I just returned from a trip to New York and London, always two of my favorite places and essential to the history of R.E.M. In New York I saw Peter and he filled me in on his recently-recorded solo record, about which details will soon be forthcoming–very exciting stuff. I also saw Michael and caught up on some of his artistic activities–some pretty fascinating stuff on his Tumblr page and michaelstipe.com. Then I went to London where Mike was playing in the fourth iteration (following Chapel Hill, New York and Austin) of the Big Star THIRD album recreation, joining core participants Chris Stamey, Jody Stephens and Mitch Easter as well as a cast of Chapel Hill’s young brilliances, and for the London show at the fabulous Barbican Arts Centre, Ken Stringfellow and John Auer of the Posies and latter-period Big Star itself, along with Norman Blake, Robyn Hitchcock, and many other bright British stars as well as a string section conducted by the formidable Terry Edwards, who occasionally played some saxaphone from his conductor’s perch. It was another very special night of that great almost 40 year old music and the largest crowd yet for the aggregation– a lot of joyful music being made for the sheer love of music. This Big Star thing goes from strength to strength (read review), speaking of which they have moved on to Barcelona for the Primavera Festival tonight.

People ask me somewhat joshingly “how’s retirement suiting you?” After a week like this, just fine thank you.