Friday, February 20, 2015

R.E.M. -- "Orange Crush" (1988)

Follow me
Don't follow me

Make up your mind, Michael Stipe!

As for me, I'm choosing the "Don't follow me" option.  That's because I think you'd have to be nuts to follow Michael Stipe anywhere.

I'm not a big fan of R.E.M., but you don't have a lot of choices when you need a song with "orange" in the title.

Michael Stipe -- the exceedingly brown-eyed lead singer of R.E.M. -- has said that "Orange Crush" is about a young American football player who goes to fight in Vietnam.

R.E.M. lead guitarist Peter Buck had this to say about our featured song:

I must have played this song onstage over three hundred times, and I still don't know what the f*ck it's about.  The funny thing is, every time I play it, it means something different to me, and I find myself moved emotionally.  Noel Coward made some remark about the potency of cheap music, and while I wouldn't describe the song as cheap in any way, sometimes great songwriting isn't the point.  A couple of chords, a good melody and some words can mean more than a seven-hundred-page novel, mind you.  Not a good seven-hundred-page novel mind you, but more say, a long Jacqueline Susann novel.  [Although] I really liked Valley of the Dolls.

(I don't think I'd follow Peter Buck anywhere either.)

The title of "Orange Crush" isn't a reference to the carbonated soft drink.  Rather, it's a reference to the herbicide popularly known as Agent Orange.

Agent Orange (which got its name from the orange-striped plastic barrels it was shipped in) became famous during the Vietnam War. 

A U.S. Army helicopter applying
Agent Orange in Vietnam
In November 1961, President John F. Kennedy authorized "Operation Ranch Hand," the code name for a U.S. military program designed to destroy food crops as well as jungle foliage in Vietnam.

Over the next decade, the military sprayed about 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other chemical herbicides in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

The health effects of Agent Orange have been debated for years, but the Department of Veterans Affairs has officially acknowledged that several cancers and other diseases are associated with exposure to the herbicide.

Here's the official music video for "Orange Crush":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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