Album: Automatic For the People (1992)
Charted: 11 28
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  • Smack, crack, bushwhacked
    Tie another one to the racks, baby
    Hey kids, rock and roll
    Nobody tells you where to go, baby

    What if I ride, what if you walk?
    What if you rock around the clock?
    Tick-tock, tick-tock
    What if you did, what if you walk?
    What if you tried to get off, baby?

    Hey, kids, where are you?
    Nobody tells you what to do, baby
    Hey kids, shake a leg
    Maybe you're crazy in the head, baby

    Maybe you did, maybe you walked
    Maybe you rocked around the clock
    Tick-tock, tick-tock
    Maybe I ride, maybe you walk
    Maybe I drive to get off, baby

    Hey kids, shake a leg
    Maybe you're crazy in the head, baby
    Ollie, Ollie, Ollie, Ollie, Ollie
    Ollie, Ollie in come free, baby
    Hey, kids, where are you?
    Nobody tells you what to do, baby

    Smack, crack, shack-a-lack
    Tie another one to your backs, baby
    Hey kids, rock and roll
    Nobody tells you where to go, baby

    Maybe you did, maybe you walk
    Maybe you rock around the clock
    Tick-tock, tick-tock
    Maybe I ride, maybe you walk
    Maybe I drive to get off, baby

    Hey kids, where are you?
    Nobody tells you what to do, baby
    Hey kids, rock and roll
    Nobody tells you where to go, baby
    Baby Writer/s: Michael Mills, Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, William Berry
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 12

  • Carol from North CarolinaSeveral years ago, this song was featured in the opening scene of a show that I caught on TV- with one man practicing a martial-arts type sequence to it. Does anyone happen to remember what show this is?
  • Rautry from Athens, GaMichael Stipe is a full fledged, card carrying hypocrite! I went to school with him. Less than a week before Stipe took out this full page ad in the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, USA Today, Atlanta Journal & Constitution, and Athens newspaper, actually the day before Thanksgiving, right before that election, Michael Stipe and REM performed at the Fabulous FOX Theater in Atlanta. During that concert, Stipe lashed out at U2 singer and humanitarian, Bono, accusing him of HERD POLITICS...trying to herd the masses into your political way of thinking and voting. Everyone I knew at the show from Athens was astonished. I didn't even know what HERD POLITICS meant until Stipe used it, then he is guilty of blatantly personafying the word.
  • Adam from Boyce, VaDefinetly an eerie and haunting song.
  • Elissa from Manhattan Beach, CaI was actually in this video. It was filmed on an August night in 1992 at the Sepulveda Dam in L.A. I'm fairly certain it was already known as "Drive" at that time because they gave us hats that said "Drive- R.E.M. Filming in August" on them. An amazing experience, by the way!
  • David from Denver, CoOllie Ollie In Come Free - has nothing to do with politics, income, Oliver North, etc., though you can read politics into anything I suppose. It was shouted at the end of a kids' hide and seek game, and probably started around the turn of the 20th Century, because of its mix of German/English, etc.

    Lots and lots of theories from lots and lots of sites. Most from Jesse at Random House:

    1. The phrase is used in a variety of children's chasing games, especially hide-and-(go-)seek. The rough form of this game is that a player (called "it") gives other players a chance to hide, and then tries to find them. When "it" finds the first hider, he calls out some phrase indicating that the other players are "safe" to return "home," at which point the person "it" found will succeed him as "it."
    The original form of the phrase was something like all in free or all's out come in free, both standing for something like all who are out can come in free. These phrases got modified to all-ee all-ee (all) in free or all-ee all-ee out(s) in free; the -ee is added, and the all is repeated, for audibility and rhythm.
    From here the number of variants takes off, and we start seeing folk etymologies in various forms. The most common of these has oxen replacing out(s) in, giving all-ee all-ee oxen free; with the all-ee reinterpreted as the name Ollie, we arrive at your phrase, which, according to the Dictionary of American Regional English, is especially common in California. Norwegian settlement areas have Ole Ole Olsen's free. For the out(s) in phrase, we also see ocean, oxford, ax in, awk in, and even oops all in.

    2. One guess is that the original was something like "all in free" for "all who are out can come in free", to indicate that the person who is "it" in the game of hide-and-seek has caught somebody to become the new "it", and so everybody else can come out of hiding without the risk of being caught.
    Oral transmission has garbled this in fascinating ways, with all in, for example, being translated by a series of mishearings to the name Ollie (short for Oliver, once more common than it is now). And oxen may have come from an intermediate form out's in free - other recorded versions are awk in, Oxford, and ocean.
    Various subscribers remember versions that suggest the first part of the catch was once something like "all of you". Charles Wilson wrote: "When I was growing up in the American South we actually said, 'All ye all ye outs in free' when playing hide-and-seek (although we called it 'hide-and-go-seek)".

    3. Its root seems to be an English-Norman French-Dutch/German concoction: "Alles, Alles, in kommen frei"or "Oyez, oyez, in kommen frei!"
    "Allez, allez" was a Norman addition to the English language, pronounced "ollie, ollie" and sometimes written "oyez, oyez" and meaning "everyone." "In kommen frei" was a phrase popular in Dutch/German New York and Pennsylvania, where many Zonians came from, meaning "come in free."
  • Fredrik from Stockholm, SwedenThis is one of my all time favorite songs. Even to day i can remember the first time I heard the song. I thougt: "Wow, this is realy f.....g great". I sounded like nothing I ever heard before.
    The song is so haunting.
    I remembered that they played this song live when they were in Stockholm in January 2005. Stipes singing sounded realy desperat. He somtimes screamed out the lyrics in som kind of anger and dread. They did it a bit different then the original but it was so beautifull and powerfull that it make me shiver sometimes even to day when I think about it. It sounded allmost better then the original.
  • Andrew from New Bethlehem, Pa"Maybe I ride, maybe you walk, maybe I drive to get off, baby." I've always loved those lyrics
  • Ben from Bristol, Englandthis song is amazing and so is the album. R.E.M are such a great band
  • Patrick from Cleveland, OhI think the line is "Ollie ollie income free", referring to the conservative position on income taxes.
    And I think the reason this song sticks with people is that it's so haunting. No one knows quite what the lyrics mean, but there's something ineffably sinister about them. Coupled with the very ambient and minor guitar lines, this song becomes almost scary (especially when alone at night).
  • David from Haskell, Njas a conservative REM fan...
    It just says so much about the early 90s.
    Music was splitting apart. The shifts of music, from a grunge, hair, college etc.
    Rock music was changing and if you will growing
  • Athena from Athens, Greecei really don't have a clue why but this song is definately one of my all time speaks straight to my heart it's just so powerful..."hey kids rock and roll nobody tells where to go baby/hey kids where are you?nobody tells you what to do/hey kids shake a leg maybe you re crazy in the head"
  • Marvin from East Brady, PaIn addition to the "bushwhacked" line, I have always thought the line "Ollie, Ollie, Ollie come free" was a reference to Oliver North's getting out of his role in the Iran-Contra scandal as a hero rather than a criminal.
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