R.E.M. Lyric Annotations FAQ
R.E.M.: Green: Turn You Inside-Out


"Divide your cultured pearls and paste"
The familiar 'pearl' we're used to seeing is a crystalline substance, called mother-of-pearl, formed from the mollusk interior. In the process of "culturing", a mother-of-pearl bead, about three-quarters the size of the desired product, is introduced into a real oyster, where it is cultured. The process was invented in Japan, it provides spherical pearls, and only experts can distinguish them from genuine pearls. Artificial pearls, on the other hand, are entirely artificial, made largely of glass. This would presumably be the "paste" in the song, and yield the contrast: 'real' pearls (cultured) should be divided from 'fake ones'(paste). [Tad Schirz]
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Lyrics from Kipp Teague's Lyric Archive.