R.E.M. Lyric Annotations FAQ
R.E.M.: Document: Exhuming McCarthy



Exhuming McCarthy
To "exhume" is to dig up the remains of the dead. Joseph McCarthy was a right wing Senator who led anti-Communist witch hunts in the 1950s and who wrongly accused many Americans of treason. [Ron Henry]

"Loyal to the Bank of America"
The Bank of America is a giant banking corporation. [Ron Henry]

"You're sharpening stones, walking on coals"
Sharpening stones as in making primitive spear heads. Walking on coals is a test of bravery. [Ron Henry] * I suspect that it is not likely that it was specifically Anthony Robbins [firewalking guru] that Michael had in mind - because I don't think he was the big deal back then and I'd be surprised if Michael had heard of him -- maybe though -- Robbins had his first book published in 86 -- Document was Sept 87 -- so I guess it's possible Michael saw something on the TV or in the press about him. Even so -- I'm wondering if maybe Robbins wasn't the first self development guru to use the firewalking gimmick. [murray]

"To improve your business acumen"
"Acumen" is knowledge and skill. [Ron Henry]

"Vested interest united ties, landed gentry rationalize"
Vested interest as in owned share, as in a company. The landed gentry is the land-owning upper class. To rationalize is to invent seemingly plausible but false explanations for one's culpable actions, esp. by finding a way to blame others. [Ron Henry] * In "Vested Interest, united ties", Stipe has pulled off a very neat little double-entendre, invoking the vests and ties of the clothing of businessmen. [billg3man]

"by jingo"
A colloquial interjection of agreement; also, jingo is chauvanistic patriotism. [Ron Henry]

"Enemy sighted, enemy met"
Military jargon for attacking the enemy. [Ron Henry]

"I'm addressing the realpolitik"
Realpolitik is "a usually expansionist national policy having as its sole principle advancement of the national interest." [American Heritage Dictionary]

"Let us not.."
[The] spoken-word middle eight [was] lifted from a McCarthy documentary the band watched during the album's mixing stage. The film, Point of Order, takes as its climax a key moment during the televised army-McCarthy hearings of 1954 (the Senator was engaged in trying to root out subversives in the armed forces). On June 9th, McCarthy repeatedly tried to ruin, by associating him with a left wing group, a young law associate of the Army counsel Joseph N. Welch. The associate was not involved in the hearings, and Welch replied to McCarthy's irrelevant and spiteful harangues thus: 'Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you no sense of decency?' [ICFTS]

"(Meet me at the book burning)"
Book burnings were political rallies of the 1950-60s by conservatives to destroy books and records that were considered either morally or politically dangerous. [Ron Henry]

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Lyrics from Kipp Teague's Lyric Archive.