From the congested e-mail inbox of the A&E editor: R.E.M. and the iPhone


R.E.M.'s music played a big part in the early stages of my relationship with my now-husband. I owned a copy of 1994's Monster and, like everyone else listening to college radio, I knew the words to "What's the Frequency Kenneth?" But then-boyfriend/now-husband introduced me to R.E.M's 1982 Chronic Town EP, and we soon shared a love of their earlier releases. Chronic Town's "Gardening At Night," and Document's (1987) "Finest Worksong" still make their way onto our roadtrip CDs.

But while I have a big nostalgic love jones for R.E.M., I rarely consider them much any more. Until now.

The band recently launched a free app for the iPhone. Direct from R.E.M. HQ in Athens, GA, super fans can stay up to date with news and tour dates, listen to 30-second streaming song clips, watch full-length fan videos from the 2008 tour, learn about some R.E.M.'s hometown landmarks and shop for band merch. And share pictures of themselves listening to R.E.M.

The app has a few hitches: The band videos require WiFi and if it's a spotty connection, the stop-and-start stutters are painfully annoying. The fan videos are on YouTube, so you have to exit the app. Ditto the exit strategy if you want to look at the Google maps of the band's hometown (which, unless you're planning a pilgrimage, is kind of an odd feature). And, you need a Flickr account to upload photos of yourself listening to the likes of "Shiny Happy People."

And while I don't need a map to the field of kudzu where they shot the cover photo for their 1983 debut full-lengthMurmur, looking at the list of R.E.M.'s song and video clips reminded me of how vast their catalog is and how much of it I still really like. I don't think we'll be going to Athens, but I'm definitely going to make a new R.E.M. mix CD for the next time my husband and I head out of town.