My Top 1000 Songs #575: Crazy

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

Like (I assume?) a lot of people, my introduction to Pylon's "Crazy" happened when their fellow Athens, GA act R.E.M. covered it on the b-side of 1985's "Driver 8." The song was at least as great as many R.E.M. originals, and a stand-out on their 1987 Dead Letter Office b-sides/outtakes collection. Yes, the trademark R.E.M. guitar jangle is there, and the "your arms are shaking and your feet are shaking 'cuz the earth is shaking" chorus is exhilaratingly anthemic, but there's also a mysterious, uncomfortable undercurrent.

Naturally, those of us at the college radio station immediately went about digging for the original (as Pylon was pretty obscure even among the college DJ crowd, at least further up north); and were pleasantly surprised to find that R.E.M. had left the original largely intact, the slightly askew jangle-pop still there but fronted by Vanessa Briscoe Hay's vocals, alternating behind gentle croon and on-edge wail. The 1982 single (included on Pylon's 1983 LP Chomp) remains an essential document of the early 80s college radio aesthetic, catchier and less jagged than much of their more experimental work (which bridges Gang of 4 and the B-52s with R.E.M.) but still steering clear of slicker, more straightforward pop. 

The R.E.M. version:
Briscoe Hay with a reunited R.E.M. (less Michael Stipe) in 2019:
R.E.M. live 2003: