R.E.M. Lyric Annotations FAQ
R.E.M.: Lifes Rich Pageant: I Believe


 [Lifes Rich Pageant]

"When I was young and full of grace"
"Grace" is divine influence in a person. [Ron Henry] * It also means effortless charm or beauty. [Chris Piuma]

"and spirited a rattlesnake."
"Spiriting a rattlesnake" refers to snake handling Christian cults of US Appalachian region who incorporate the handling of poisonous snakes into services as fulfillment of Biblical verse about the holy taming the serpent. [Ron Henry]

"on your honor"
This is taken from a Boy Scout oath. [Ron Henry]

"I believe in coyotes"
"Coyote" being the wild canine, but also the Native American holy trickster spirit. [Ron Henry]

"What you want and what you need"
See also Finest Worksong. [Ron Henry]

"the horns of the day"
That is, dawn and dusk. [Ron Henry] * According to ICFTS, the original version of this lyric was "the hours of the day", but someone misread Stipe's handwriting, and Stipe preferred the new version. [Chris Piuma]

"Silly rule golden words make"
This refers to the Golden Rule, "Treat others as you would have them treat you". C.f previous line: "Think of others and the others will think of you." [Ron Henry]

"Perfect is a fault, and fault lines change"
This is word-play linking fault as in character flaw to fault as in geologic seam. [Ron Henry]

"Example is the checker to the key"
The "checker" is a Checker Marathon cab, which Stipe drove, but according to Stipe not significant except for rhythm and sound of line. [Ron Henry] * re:checker. i needed a rhyme and drove a checkcab.doesnt mean a thing. its featured on the cover of document behind me for the never believers. [Stipe, on AOL]

"And I believe the poles are shifting"
Major geologic and climactic shifts in the Earth's history have been accompanied by a reversal of the north and south magnetic poles. [Ron Henry] * It could also be "polls" that are shifting; i.e., popular opinion is changing. [Chris Piuma]

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Lyrics from Kipp Teague's Lyric Archive.