Green Grow The Rushes
August 15, 2007
“Green Grow The Rushes” may be the first obviously political R.E.M. song, with lyrics that unambiguously address the plight of Mexican guest workers in the United States. It’s a fairly laid-back form of protest song — the band seem more interested in simply raising awareness of a problem than in directly scolding Americans who exploit their neighbors in order to maximize their profits — but the lyrics don’t entirely gel, and the words recede into the background of a tune that mostly just sounds very pretty. “Green Grow The Rushes” isn’t exactly a technical mind-blower, but it surely features some of the loveliest Peter Buck guitar parts of the IRS era, particularly the sweet, mellow sequence that comes just after the chorus. The simple beauty of the piece almost certainly overshadows Michael Stipe’s well-intentioned message, but it’s not exactly a major problem.