Swan Swan H
I have a live version where Michael
Stipe says "This next song is about a part of our American
history that was very, very ugly." [cb2749] * According
to Stipe the song was inspired by a book of post-Civil war correspondence
of former slaves. [Ron Henry]
* Stipe suggests this should be pronounced
"Swan Swan Huh", starting to say "hummingbird",
but getting cut off before reaching the "ummingbird"
part. [Chris Piuma]
"Johnny Reb, what's the price of
Johnny Reb was the name that Northern
Troops used to refer to the Rebels in the South. [erankin] *
It's the southern answer to Yankee Doodle. [Ron Henry]
"Some bone chains and toothpicks?"
"Bone chains and toothpicks"
are rather gruesome souvenirs made from casualties' bones. [bellaire]
"Here's your wooden greenback"
A greenback is US (Union) currency.
[See also Green Grow the Rushes.]
"Wooden" suggests fake. [Ron
"Wooden beams and dovetail sweep"
A "dovetail" is a joint
between two wooden beams with interlocking tongue and grooves
(tenon and mortises). [Ron
Henry] * It may not be relevant, but
guitars have dovetail joints. [Chris
"The whiskey is water, the water
See "Water from wine"
under How the West Was Won...
"Six in one, half dozen the other"
"Six of one, half dozen of
the other" is colloquial for "it's all the same".