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Automatic for the People, R.E.M.

Warner Bros. Records, October 6, 1992

Track Listing: 1. Drive, 2. Try Not to Breathe, 3. The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite, 4. Everybody Hurts, 5. New Orleans Instrumental No. 1, 6. Sweetness Follows, 7. Monty Got a Raw Deal, 8. Ignoreland, 9. Star Me Kitten, 10. Man on the Moon, 11. Nightswimming, 12. Find the River

You are on the way to the most fulfilling day of your life. Visiting us at Li is the first step toward enlightenment, and it is a pleasure to share your company. Everyone involved with the library’s construction hopes that you make the most of your stay. You may kick off your socks and relax inside. Shut your eyes to dream. Or, you may scream until your vocal chords wear silent. Whatever you do, know you are welcome anytime. Doors never shut. There are no rules. Best of all, exit with whatever you check-out and keep the material forever. Due dates are not part of our vernacular.

Comfortable? Go ahead! Pour a glass of wine. Let the world still. Take deep breaths. Nothing matters but now.

Take the next step. Hear the music playing. Listen. Really, really listen. Isolate yourself from everything but the unforced vocals and soothing instrumentation filling the space. Concentrate on the control, the release, the joy and the pain. There are no distractions—only songs worn like a blanket bundling someone—you—curled upon a sofa on crisp fall night, awaiting the return of a soul mate.

Disappear into a place of reflective bliss. Dramatics are uninvited, as you drift toward your destination of elevated awareness. The atmosphere soaks in somber clouds of memory and destiny. Everything is aligned. Surrender. There is no resistance, and sweet rhythms take over as your guide, meeting your consciousness like a bride and groom holding hands at the altar on their wedding day. You pass hope, calm and sadness. A panoply of human emotion brushes nerve endings left un-groomed. If you did not feel so alert, then you would swear you were walking in sleep.

A laugh—so sincere, so organic—from the lead vocalist sneaks into the room, heightening the immediacy and freedom. The song is titled “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite.” The moment is fleeting, but you are grateful for its existence at all, comprehending such vulnerability is usually sheltered far from earshot—excised in a second take. The music and you breathe in steady grace.

Beauty is yours for the taking, and you vouch to keep it nearby because the connection with the music is the deepest you have felt in a long, long time. The release of a tear—a saline trickle that only drops when in the presence of overwhelming dignity—marks a trail of the encounter. You have arrived, and repose is bittersweet. Anticipating the end never tips into fear, though, since there is knowledge that feeling this alive would not be unique if it lasted longer or occurred with greater frequency. That final note reverberates from this instant onward.

The inclination to take a step back is resisted, and the opportunity to absorb your surroundings with renewed vision is seized. Sensations are richer than before. The moment for the final step, recognizing where you have been and never losing sight of the treasures that shape life into such an extraordinary experience, is in your hands. Embrace how the time spent has illuminated possibilities waiting in the precious hours ahead or minutes carelessly forgotten, while remembering where to find us and every item removed from the stacks during your visit. We are always at your service. We are ready. We are quick, and, we, too, are efficient.