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R.E.M.: Fables of the Reconstruction: Green Grow the Rushes


 [Fables of the Reconstruction]

Green Grow the Rushes
The title may refer to the poem, "Green Grow The Rashes," by the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796). A historically-unconfirmed story says that immigrants to the New World from the British Isles were especially fond of the song, and to the Spanish born population the Anglo-Americans who sang this work song became known as "greengrows" (later shortened to "gringos"). [Ron Henry]

"surplus, cheaper hands"
According to Stipe, migrant day-workers. [Ron Henry]

"Pay for your freedom, find another gate"
This refers to illegal immigrants paying for passage into US; the "other gate" is presumably along the guarded US/Mexican border. [Ron Henry]

"The grasses that hide the greenback"
A "greenback" is a U.S. dollar. [Ron Henry] * Perhaps also a play on "wetback", a derogatory term for Mexicans who enter the U.S. illegally. [Chris Piuma]

"The amber waves of gain"
A play on the "amber waves of grain" from "America the Beautiful". [Ron Henry]

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Lyrics from Kipp Teague's Lyric Archive.