In my defense, I’ve always had a thing for cellos, so I was always going to be a sucker for this song. But R.E.M.’s “At My Most Beautiful” came into my life (via the Up album, I guess) at a time when I was that sad boy whose girlfriend was overseas studying and receiving homemade tapes filled with overly emotional music all of which had deep emotional meaning that wasn’t exactly hidden to anyone with ears, and so, of course it went on one of those tapes, probably between something from Big Star’s Third album and, God knows, an Oasis b-side or whatever else I was listening to at the time.
That’s not the reason I’m bringing this song to light, however. No, for that, you have to jump forward a few months and the girlfriend is back in town and we’ve split up, and “At My Most Beautiful” is about to be released as a single. I’m lying on my bed, reading the NME or the Melody Maker review of the single and it’s as cutting and cruel as the song deserves (Really, this is a horribly sentimental, rather dull song at heart, lovely cello moment aside) and in the review, there’s a line along the lines of “This song is so bad, the only people who’ll find any value in it are sad boys lying in their bedrooms making up mix tapes for girlfriends who are overseas” or the like. Something that literally described me.
I read that line and blushed, embarrassed at being so predictable, so obvious, and thought to myself, “I can never tell anyone about this. Ever.”
Apparently, more than a decade later, I’m a little bit better at laughing at myself.