"Exhuming McCarthy" as written by and Peter Buck Bill Berry....
You're beautiful more beautiful than me
You're honorable more honorable than me
Loyal to the Bank of America

It's a sign of the times
It's a sign of the times

You're sharpening stones walking on coals
To improve your business acumen.
Sharpening stones walking on coals
To improve your business acumen.

Vested interest united ties landed gentry rationalize
Look who bought the myth by jingo buy America

It's a sign of the times
It's a sign of the times

You're sharpening stones, walking on coals
To improve your business acumen.
Sharpening stones, walking on coals,
To improve your business acumen.

Enemy sighted, enemy met, I'm addressing the realpolitik
Look who bought the myth, by jingo, buy America

"Let us not assassinate this man further Senator,
You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir?
At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

We're sharpening stones, walking on coals
To improve your business acumen.
Sharpening stones, walking on coals,
To improve your business acumen.

Enemy sighted, enemy met, I'm addressing the realpolitik
You've seen start and you've seen quit
(I'm addressing the table of content)
I always thought of you as quick
Exhuming McCarthy
(Meet me at the book burning)
Exhuming McCarthy
(Meet me at the book burning)


Lyrics submitted by xpankfrisst

"Exhuming McCarthy" as written by Peter Buck Bill Berry

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Exhuming McCarthy song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThe quotation in the middle comes from an actual 1950s US government hearing that McCarthy was involved in. I can't think of the name of the person who said it, but he was saying it to McCarthy.

    To me, this song is about the Reagan/Bush I years when the extreme right-wing anti-Commie mentality of Joe McCarthy was brought back again. The Reaganites symbolically "exhumed McCarthy," or brought him back from the dead.
    Jerrybearon April 28, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentRight on, Jerrybear... and now in 2004 its back again with Bush 2. What are you, some kind of terrorist lover?

    Anyone interested in the Communist 'reds under the bed' fever of the 50s and 60s should read James Elroy's novel American Tabloid.

    As for the song, the quote in the middle is from a trial in 1954 in which McCarthy had been tearing down a (plainly innocent) young man's reputation and painting him as an evil Communist. This was actually not even the issue in the trial, it was in fact an army draft case, but McCarthy decided to make allegations against a junior lawyer at the firm handling the opposing side of the case.

    Joseph Welch was the attorney for the army in the case, and the quote is his. First he said: "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness," as McCarthy began to slander the young man. When McCarthy continued, Welch said "Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator; you've done enough." McCarthy continued, so Welch interjected: "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

    This trial was televised, and this event was the beginning of the end for McCarthy and his anti-Communist witch hunt.
    caitsith01on October 17, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe trial which produced the quote from the middle "Have you left no sense..." is featured in the film "Good Night, And Good Luck" if anyone wants to know more.

    The song is about the way that fear can be used to motivate people and was then applied to Reagan and the way he focused on supposed external threats from the USSR which we now know to be fabricated.

    It is very, very easy (and correct) to apply this song to the period from 2001 to 2006.
    michaelwoodon June 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, what the heck is this song about? its a good one. just an idea though; maybe it has something to do with McCarthyism?
    heythere81201on March 05, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've never heard this song. The lyrics are good-- and R.E.M. never fails to produce great music, so I'm sure it's excellent.

    Hah. When I read the title on the list page, I saw "Exhuming MacCartney." Like Paul-- you know. I was thinking, "Wait a second, he's not dead..." This song would have a very different meaning were it Paul MacCartney. In fact, it wouldn't make sense. lol.

    Peace.
    Greyshoeson December 19, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is about people who are so afraid of themselves failing and so self centered that they try to take others down so that they can rise up; in effect, they are reliving Mccarthy and doing what he did.
    rockmanon January 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhile most of what has been said above is accurate, I think there's another theme here: the deification of corporate America. Stipe is pointing out that one of the elements of fascism (besides suppressing dissent as McCarthy did) is rule by corporations.
    -"Bank of America"=the savings & loan scandals during this time (the Enrons of the 80's)--most of the perpetrators weren't prosecuted due to their political connections.
    -"walking on coals"=refers to a corporate training fad where employees would walk on hot coals in order to build team unity or some such bullcrap.
    -"landed gentry"=the aristocracy created by the presence of inherited wealth. The Founding Fathers were unanimously against this concept, but the supply-side concepts of the Reagan administration were pushed in order to create such a system.
    -"by jingo"=jingoism is hyper-nationalism. The word was coined in the buildup to WWI.
    -"enemy sighted, enemy met"=euphemistic military jargon. Likely has to do with the Iran/Iraq war going on at the time and the US involvement for financial purposes (oil).
    -"I always thought of you as quick"=probably a direct jab at Reagan who famously testified at the Iran-Contra hearings that he didn't remember the decisions he'd made.
    dontkillwhiteyon May 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcaitsith01

    I remember the quote from the movie GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK.
    Susan_The_BassPlayeon December 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe band were comparing the last days of Ronald Reagan, the Iran-Iraq war, and global recessions to the early 50's "Red Scare" period. The same song could still be done today, which is slightly disconcerting.
    dafunkon May 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about the Reagan administration. To "exhume" means to bring back, with obvious references to McCarthyism. Ends don't justify the means etc.
    ponyinducedon June 18, 2008   Link

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