Song of the Day #1,404: ‘Green Grow the Rushes’ – R.E.M.

Best Albums of the 80s – #3
Fables of the Reconstruction – R.E.M. (1985)

Four artists in my 80s list also showed up on my 90s list — Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, U2 and R.E.M.

R.E.M. is the only one to place in the top five of both lists. It’s easy to forget, given their long slow fade, how dominant this band was a very long time.

I don’t mean dominant in the commercial sense, though they certainly had their share of billboard success. I mean dominant emotionally. On album after album, R.E.M. tapped into something powerful and passionate. There’s a reason I, like many people, chose R.E.M. as the soundtrack of my adolescence and early adulthood.

Fables of the Reconstruction remains my favorite R.E.M. album despite the volumes of great work they put out later. For me, this is the quintessential R.E.M. sound — jangly guitars and mumbled vocals, understated production that hinted at the Athens bar band they were not too many years earlier.

They would grow more popular, more ambitious and more sonically adventurous. But they never sounded better.

The wheelbarrow’s fallen
Look at my hands
They’ve found some surplus cheaper hands
Rubbing palms and pick and choose,
who will they choose? Here is the news.

Look at that building, look at this man
Halloed and whitewashed
Gone to find a cheaper hand
He’ll offer a pound, offer a pound.

Green grow the rushes go
Green grow the rushes go
Green grow the rushes go
The compass points the workers home

Pay for your freedom, find another gate
Guilt by associate, the rushes wilted a long time ago
Guilty as you go

Stay off that highway, word is it’s not so safe
The grasses that hide the greenback
The amber waves of gain again
The amber waves of gain

Green grow the rushes go
Green grow the rushes go
Green grow the rushes go
The compass points the workers home

About these ads

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,404: ‘Green Grow the Rushes’ – R.E.M.

  1. Amy says:

    And you chose to feature one of my very favorite songs on one of my very favorite albums… what a nice way to begin a Wednesday morning.

    I agree with all you’ve said today – this is the quintessential R.E.M. album and the soundtrack to my college years, if not my youth :)

    I just love it.

    (meanwhile, I just caught the last 30 seconds or so of the video…. what’s up with that?!)

  2. Dana says:

    While I still rank Automatic for the People as my favorite REM album, this is absolutely a great one as well.

    By the way, the amount of disdain I have for Morrisey’s voice is inversely proportional to the love I have for Stipe’s voice. He is among a handful of artists I could listen to singing the phone book and find it compelling (others include Sting, Peter Gabriel, Natalie Merchant).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s