R.E.M. Lyric Annotations FAQ
R.E.M.: Reckoning: 7 Chinese Bros.



7 Chinese Bros.
Five Chinese Brothers is a story about five Chinese brothers who can each do one marvelous trick. One Chinese brother can swallow the whole ocean and is persuaded to do so by a young child wanting seashells. The brother makes the child promise to return quickly and not go out of sight. The child does not heed him, of course, and dies when the brother can hold it in no longer. The brother is brought up on charges and sentenced to death. They first try to hang him, but his brother with an extendible neck replaces him and escapes injury. Then they try to chop off his head, but his brother with an iron neck saves him in the same manner as before. They try to burn him, but his inflammable brother lives through the flames in his stead. They finally put him in a closed space with marshmallows or something to try to suffocate him, but the brother that can hold his breath forever comes through that all right. The authorities give up after that. [bragar] * The final Chinese Brother swallowed the ocean in to try to save his brothers from the evil Emperor. [Ron Henry] * There's a children's picture book roughly similar to the 5 Chinese Brothers story titled "Seven Chinese Brothers." In this story the people of China are persecuted by the emperor of China, who employs them in building the Great Wall (a reference to Shih Huang-Ti?) and the seventh brother eventually drowns the emperor by swallowing the sea and spitting it up on his palace. [remmie]

"Wrap your heel in bones of steel"
["Rap your heel"] means to tap in time to music? [Ron Henry] * [Perhaps] a reference to an Achilles heel, i.e. wrap your Achilles heel in bones of steel, so that it is no longer a weakness. [s2172268] * A possible reference to the ancient Chinese practice of wrapping the feet of young women. [kieran]

"Autumn waited hold it to you in the colored come another"
Autumn is the season when the leaves change colors. [Chris Piuma]

"Seven thousand years the Communi did reign"
["Communi" refers to] Communists. [remmie]

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Lyrics from Kipp Teague's Lyric Archive.