Begin the Begin
The title plays on Cole Porter's
song Begin the Beguine. [Chris
"Birdie in the hand"
According to Mills, a middle finger
gesture ("[flipping someone] the bird"); it's also
play on "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"
(i.e., it's better to have possession of a little of something
than the potential to have a lot). [Ron
"The insurgency began"
An "insurgency" is a
political revolt. [Ron Henry]
"Miles Standish proud"
Miles Standish was a soldier who
accompanied the Pilgrims to the New World. [Ron Henry]
"A philanderer's tie, a murderer's
A philanderer is someone who is
sexually promiscuous. [Ron
Henry] * The original version of this
lyric was supposed to be "a philanthropist's tie, a murderer's
shoe", but according to ICFTS, Stipe "got it mixed
up". [Chris Piuma]
"Life's rich demand creates supply
in the hand
Of the powers, the only vote that
This is an echo of "birdie in the hand" and wordplay
on the economic "supply and demand" theory. The "only
vote that matters" is presumably the "supply in the
hand", economic power. [Ron
"Silence means security, silence
"Silence means security"
was a WWII slogan. [Ron Henry] * I believe this song predates the AIDS activists'
slogan "Silence = Death". [Chris
Piuma] * In early 16th century, during
England's break with the Roman Catholic Church, Sir
Thomas More was on trial for refusing to sign a testimony
to the effect that King Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of
Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn were religiously orthodox.
When asked by the examiners if he thought he should be beheaded,
More refused to answer, and the prosecutor argued that the old
Roman law custom of "silence means approval" proved
that More wanted to be a traitor. More responded that, technically,
his refusal to sign the oath was his silence, and under the Roman
law should be considered patent approval of the King's divorce.
The prosecution was flustered, but More was, of course, killed
"On Zenith, on the TV, tiger run
around the tree/Follow the leader, run and turn into butter"
It's a direct reference to the
book [Little Black Sambo]. Though it may sound
politically incorrect in the '90s, "Little Black Sambo"
displayed both the universal struggle of man against nature and
the universal appeal of pancakes. [William
T. Anderson] * I imagine it refers
to watching a cartoon of the story on tv. The story as I recall
it is that to avoid being attacked by the tiger, Sambo gets the
tiger chasing him around the tree and then jumps out of the whirlwind
(seems to me Bugs Bunny used to pull this stunt a lot too); the
tiger, being butter-colored after all, after churning around
and around the tree, turns into butter -- not only unthreatening,
but nutritious! Sambo's mother makes breakfast and they eat the
butter on his griddle cakes. (Hence Wm's comments above about
pancakes...) [Ron Henry] * "Zenith" is both a brand of TV set
and a word meaning "a culminating point or peak". [Chris Piuma]
* "Follow the leader" is a children's game of blind
obedience to the leader. [Ron
"like Martin Luther Zen"
Martin Luther lead Protestant protest
against Catholicism. Zen is an Eastern philosophy of non-attachment
to material world. [Ron Henry]