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Lyrics submitted by Nelly, edited by echolot

Orange Crush song meanings
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  • +4
    General Comment I would guess that this site is read and commented on by mostly those 40 and under. If there were many comments by those old enough to serve in Vietnam there wouldn't be much debate on the "meaning" of this song. There are of course many songs by many artists that have more of what you might call an "inspiration" than a lyric by lyric meaning and I would bet this song does contain a bit of that. (there will always be some public ambiguity as Mr. Stipe himself has been quoted and misquoted about the song and has made or has been reported to have made conflicting statements on its meaning) but there is so much of this song that could have been taken out of dialogue that I have heard with my own ears that I have no doubt that not only did the author intend to call up the specter of Vietnam but he had the assistance of someone who was there. (of course, perhaps, Michael Stipes father - if not his father directly, there could have been so many other connections...sadly, there is often much that fathers never say directly..I do not know how it was for his family, I am speaking unfortunately from my own experience) There are terms like "Orange Crush" itself, which, yes, referred to Agent Orange, but there are lesser known habits of speech like the reference to "counties" and "truck stops" ..."all the trucks jacked up and our wheels in slush" This whole song echoes with things I can almost smell when it plays... I could explain more but I would like everyone who has or will question this song to go and find a veteran and discuss the experience of war with them. It does not have to be a Vietnam vet, each war and each experience was different (my own Father was a WWII vet and some things were so different and some were appallingly the same...and some I will never know about, as my father is gone now and so much - even of what we knew in common was left unsaid) but if you will forget about the politics of any given war for awhile or whether or not you agree or disagree as individuals with whomever you may find, who will speak to you (you also might be surprised at the wide range of views..) and just listen, I guarantee you will learn something worth knowing...perhaps even more of what was referred to in this song... But in listening and should you decide to take that story with you, regardless of of what you decide it means to you, you will be one more who will not forget...
    donotforgeton October 15, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Commentway to copy/paste from songfacts and pretend u found all that out for urself...
    ZinbobDanon February 16, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAgent Orange, in 'Nam, with the M16!!!

    Thats interesting though, I had always wondered if this song had any real meaning.
    (I love the part where he's yelling on the megaphone)
    ZidaneTribalon June 09, 2004   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationFrom what I make out, Stipe's voice sings 'serve your conscience overseas' and the chorus replies 'over me, not overseas', so the chorus is kinda in a contradiction with the established patriotic opinion. Also, I think that the band had much to say about how the video would look like and you have this child that is now a man and, thus, a possible hint to a father-son relationship: the son is now a man and he will wage his own war, possibly a pacifist struggle. The fact that Stipe's father was in Vietnam is, I think, significant in this context.
    avalonbyrneon September 13, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaningit doesn't take a rocket scientist to see its about agent orange and how they would fly overhead and spray it on the Vietnamese.

    And the thing about spines refers to courage!
    CorgiKidon July 22, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation"Follow me, don't follow me
    I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
    Collar me, don't collar me
    I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
    We are agents of the free
    I've had my fun and now it's time to
    Serve your conscience overseas
    (Over me, not over me)
    Comin' in fast, over me"

    Right so this is how the song opens. It's when the soldier is a 18 year old or so in the states. He's just got out of high school and has been enjoying the summer but he gets his draft notice. He's conflicted as to whether he should go or not, (Follow me, don't follow me) but ultimately his patriotic feeling wins over. He wants to be a man and keep his respect by going to war (I've got my spine --> doesn't want to be seen as spineless or weak), but he's still childish at heart (I've got my orange crush --> it's a kid's drink, a soda). He still believes in the benevolent intentions of America in Southeast Asia (We are agents of the free) and he's going to do his patriotic duty overseas. And it all happened so fast; just a month ago he was in school. (Comin' in fast, over me)

    "High on the booze
    In a tent
    Paved with blood
    Nine inch howl
    Brave the night
    Chopper comin' in, you hope"

    So this is pretty hard to hear in the song but it's pretty obvious. Vietnam sucks: they drink to keep down the depression from their friends dying, homesickness, doubt in the justification for the war; there's fear everywhere and the VC 'own the night;' the soldiers just want to go home, and pray for a chopper to come and save them from this hell.

    So this is where I get annoyed, because all of the lyrics sites that I've gone to say that the rest of the song is just repeating the chorus part. But I think the lyrics should change. Cause this is how I heard them when I first heard the song, and I think it makes more sense this way:

    "Follow me, don't follow me
    I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
    Collar me, don't collar me
    I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
    We are agents BY DECREE
    I've had my fun and now it's time to
    SELL your conscience overseas
    (Over me, not over me)
    Comin' in fast, over me"

    So now the whole meaning of each of these has been flipped. Now the stress is on "DON'T" follow me and "DON'T" collar me. He's angry at the government for forcing him into this war and doesn't want others to go through what he went through. Now he says "I've got my spine" meaning he's glad that he hasn't been deformed by Agent Orange (tons of people, mostly Vietnamese, got cancer, had horrendous birth defects, etc. Some of those affected were our own soldiers), because he was somehow involved with spreading it (maybe he flew the planes that dropped it or was a foot soldier in areas that had been hit by it) and that it's his "crush" because he hates it. Like he's been told it's for the better by the government, he's been 'made to love it,' (crush) but he sees its evil. And yeah, the soldiers are agents of the government unwillingly, and they are 'agents' just like the herbicide Agent Orange -- they're simply tools of the government. "I've had my fun" is clearly like 'Okay I've seen Nam, I'm done with this sh*!t, get me out' whereas before it meant 'I've had my childhood, my good high school memories, my last normal summer, now I'm ready to become a man.' Then "sell your conscience overseas" is pretty simple, either referencing Monsanto (so evil) or just that soldiers returning from Nam had lost their conscience during the war. And then "Over me, not over me/Comin' in fast, over me" could mean both Agent Orange is being dropped over the soldier or that the chopper is finally "comin' in fast", and he's going home.

    But those AREN'T the lyrics. I just misheard them and thought they were the real ones, but according to 2 different lyrics sources he actually does repeat the exact same chorus over again, without "SELL" or "BY DECREE." But I think it works better! And the interpretation still works either way, really.
    Outthereon May 27, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is the song ,for me, when REM changed there sound from subtle little folky janglepop rock sngs to the same but bigger and catchier...this is one of their best
    rieveon August 15, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about Agent Orange
    thenarratoron August 15, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentagent orange and bioterroism over in desert storm.
    i think thats what they said in an interview i was listening to.
    i might be wrong
    sepronon August 17, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAbout Agent Orange.........no, he is not a Cluedo character
    thenarratoron September 05, 2002   Link

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