I can't see myself at thirty, I don't buy a lacquered thirty
Caught like flies preserved for tomorrow's jewelery again
Lighted in the amber yard, green shell back, green shell back
Listen for tomorrow's eyes in tree beer tar black brer sap

The biggest wagon is the empty wagon is the noisiest
The consul a horse, Jefferson, I think we're lost

Who will tend the farm museums? Who will dust today's belongings?
Who will sweep the floor, hedging the givens?
Rally round your leaders it's the mediator season
Diane is on the beach, do you realize the life she's led?

The biggest wagon is the empty wagon is the noisiest
The consul a horse, oh man, think we're lost

The biggest wagon is the empty wagon is the noisiest
The matter of course, Jefferson drive

Lighted in the amber yard, green shell back green shell back
Skylight, stock tight, nero pie-tied, in tree tar black brer sap
Reason has harnessed the tame, a lodging, not stockade's game
Another Greenville, another Magic Mart, Trevor grab your fiddle

The biggest wagon is the empty wagon is the noisiest
The consul a horse, Jefferson, I think we're lost
The biggest wagon is the empty wagon is the noisiest
The consul a horse, Jefferson, I think we're lost, lost

Lyrics submitted by xpankfrisst

"Little America" as written by Peter Buck Bill Berry

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Little America song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentREM was the perfect mix of New Wave/Punk and Southern music that I was looking for in 1984. Sometimes you’re just waiting to hear a sound, and it appears. That was my experience in 1984. Lyrically, I was always impressed their ability to include the local/regional flavors, sites, and sounds without the tendency toward maudlin, sentimental, and sometimes cliche in country music.

    What’s more the ambiguity (sometimes incomprehensible) had a kind of sense to it. Little America is definitely about touring, but there is a deeper commentary about American life. They are singing about the future and a past that was fading. Who will tend the farm museums and dust today’s belongings? The insight might come from rapid and constant traveling, but it is about a world losing its meaning. There is always this gothic southern tinge in their early stuff too.
    Chazzoon May 18, 2020   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of my all time favorite R.E.M. songs.
    If you ever drove any where in the south then the line "Another Greenville" makes sense... since there seems to be one in each state. Magic Mart was an old quck stop type of store.
    versustheseaon July 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe ultimate 'man, we're always on tour' state of mind song. but anyone whose known REM since way back when knows without being told that this song was originally recorded when the band was playing over 200 gigs a year, going show to show in an old green Ford cargo van. There is no mystery here.
    peacefrogxon August 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've always thought that "The consul a horse" refers to Emperor Caligula's horse Incitatus, who was made a senator and nearly became a consul.
    Reckoningon April 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLOVE THIS SONG.

    The reference to "Jefferson" is not a historical reference, but a reference to R.E.M.'s manager at the time, Jefferson Holt. Somewhere in the late 90's / early '00's, Jefferson got fired by the band, I think because of some indiscretions with a member of R.E.M.'s crew. Now when Stipe sings this song, he changes "Jefferson" to "Washington."
    PencilNeckedGeekon January 21, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was never lucky enough to see R.E.M. live back in the day, but I've heard/seen a number of bootleg shows from this period, and I can honestly say that their 1984 "Little America" tour in support of Reckoning generated some of the greatest live bootlegs in my collection. I could never imagine having to play over 200 shows a year, much less being able to do so while all the while retaining my enthusiasm for the songs and my ability to play them as well as R.E.M. did. That fact alone shows that R.E.M. truly was one of the greatest live bands to ever play during their prime. The shows included with the deluxe editions of Murmur and Reckoning are only the tip of the iceberg. This band was something truly special.
    HyperBullyon February 25, 2011   Link

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