The End of the Road Festival is an annual festival at Larmer Tree Gardens in southern England. As part of the promotion for the festival, magazine Best Fit does “secret sessions.” For one of this year’s, Runnner, aka Noah Weinman performed a solo show. During the show he covered “Driver 8.”
“Driver 8” was REM‘s seventh single and second biggest hit when it was released in 1985. Very much a classic ’80s REM song, it’s about a train and fully embodies their jangly, folk-tinged college rock aesthetic from that period of their career.
Weinman plays the opening riff pretty much as written, though on a regular 6-string acoustic it sounds considerably less jangly. It sounds to me like he’s playing it slightly slower than the original. He otherwise sticks to the form and pace of the song. Stripped of all the original’s ornamentation though – including the harmonica that echoes a train whistle – the song sounds considerably more traditional. The original has a classic college rock sound and Weinman has stripped all of that away. His delivery feels more plaintive even if it may not be, just because it’s him and his guitar alone on stage.
It’s faithful and earnest and a nice version of the song. Check it out below.