"Green Grow The Rushes" as written by and Peter Buck Bill Berry....
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
Haloed 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


Lyrics submitted by rieve

"Green Grow the Rushes" as written by Peter Buck Bill Berry

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

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Green Grow The Rushes song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentI think this means that even though something tempts you to go away and leave the good stuff behind, you should be happy with the stuff you ahve already.
    rockmanon January 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe the song describes some sort of farm,and the workers being selected for harvesting work,like picking cotton for example.
    local_151_fellaon May 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it has to do with unionization and being shut out of work (cheaper hands, guilt by associate)
    silasbrockon December 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsilasbrock,I agree -I always thought about migrant workers being taken advantage of,"haloed in whitewash"is pretty harsh (but great) depiction of what I thought could be the "religious" farm boss.
    indierodon September 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsilasbrock,I agree -I always thought about migrant workers being taken advantage of,"haloed in whitewash"is pretty harsh (but great) depiction of what I thought could be the "religious" farm boss.
    indierodon September 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentvery simply, this song is about American foreign policy back in the 1980's, particularly in Latin America. Exploitation colonialism, in the name of corporate capitalism, has always been the nom du jour for stated American foreign policy. But no one ever calls it that. Today, of course, it's easily understood (why do you think every call you make to a help desk is answered by some one in India??) But back at the time this song was written (1984) this wasn't so self-evident. It was to Michael (stipe) though.

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

    the amber waves of gaaaaaain.

    Lastly, this song - or at least its main theme - was re-written on REM's last album as "I Wanted To Be Wrong."
    peacefrogxon February 05, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm pretty sure peacefrogx is correct here. I remember reading there was a sort of 'trilogy' of songs across three albums REM recorded. 'Green Grows the Rushes' from Fables, "The Flowers of Guatemala," from Life's Rich Pageant, and "Welcome to the Occupation" from Document were all songs dealing with US Policy towards Central and South America.

    I found these links dealing with these three songs, which may be more helpful:

    flim.com/remlafaq/fables/…
    flim.com/remlafaq/lrp/…
    flim.com/remlafaq/document/…
    lucid42dayon December 21, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentExploitation. Yep. Right on.
    criminaltypeon May 06, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningMichael himself maintains the song concerns the plight of Mexican guest workers in the US. Adds Peter Buck, "The chorus is an old Irish song Michael had heard a drunk singing on a Sunday in New York, or something like that".
    painxtremeon February 16, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningJust read this article with Micheal S and Natalie Merchant, wherein she states that this song was written as part of a pact between her and Michael and is about the plight of Native Americans.

    independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/…
    songasauron January 11, 2013   Link

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