ROCKVILLE, MD – Business leaders and homeowners associations announced a lawsuit today against the legendary jangle-pop band R.E.M., seeking a formal apology and millions of dollars in damages stemming from the band’s song (Don’t Go Back to) Rockville.
Speaking at a Rockville Chamber of Commerce press conference they described “decades of embarrassment, shame and lost economic activity” from the song.
In an emotional speech, 53-year-old Stewart Samuelson of Rockville described the searing experience of trying to convince his teenage son, Alex, that R.E.M. was actually cool, when they stumbled across some stunningly offensive lyrics.
“We were listening to my vinyl copy of ‘Reckoning’, and it just jumped out at us,” explained Samuelson. “I had told my son there was a cool song about where we live, but never really thought about it much until that day. I mean, how many of Michael Stipe’s mumbling lyrics can you understand anyway?”
It’s obvious that the 1984 song that never cracked the Top 100 charts refers to the former girlfriend of a band member whose parents wanted her to return to Rockville for the summer, but residents and business leaders say the song embarrassed their town, which is at risk of losing its religion.
Not all residents of Rockville felt the same. “I’ve never even heard of this song, nor do I know what the big deal is,” said Jacob Landry, 32. “It’s not like it’s the end of the world as we know it.”
Rockville Chamber of Commerce President Olive Cash claims the infamous song costs private sector businesses millions in lost revenue over 35 years since its debut. “People now unfairly associate Rockville with suburban ennui, stated Cash. “In reality, Rockville is home to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s grave, and actually has some of the D.C. region’s best Chinese food.”
James Hedrick, a housing economist and former candidate for Rockville City Council, said the R.E.M. effect has artificially depressed housing prices since 1984, causing a slight reduction in wealth from neighboring Bethesda. “We would have a lot more shiny, happy people in Rockville if [R.E.M] hadn’t been dissing us all these years,” Hedrick said.
Asked for comment, Stipe, 60, dismissed the lawsuits as frivolous, adding “Everybody hurts, sometimes.” However, he did state that for the right price, he’d consider rewriting a few bigger hits to promote Rockville and greater Montgomery County to make amends. Tentative titles suggested by Stipe include “Losing My McMansion”, “Nightshopping”, “Shiny NIMBY People” and “What’s the Frequency Kensington?”