Are they supposed to be wealthy or with relatively low-income? And what's the cultural background about this phrase?

This is from a song called 'the upper classes' by the Auteurs.


And some of the lyrics:

House guest here

Can't believe that the vanishing point appeared

Can hardly believe people live in houses behind trees

I had thought this is a fixed phrase because in China only the richest people can afford trees in their yard. And I guess the expression refers to monetary status. But I can't make sure

closed as unclear what you're asking by Gilles 'SO- stop being evil', hjpotter92, chrylis -on strike-, Persian Cat, Hellion Oct 30 '13 at 21:22

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    This is not a fixed phrase in English, so you will have to give us more context. It might mean people living in large houses on tracts of land so large they have many trees out front; but it might not, too. See this. – StoneyB Oct 25 '13 at 10:52

Houses behind trees is not an idiomatic expression in English, and as song lyrics (like poetry) are left to the listener's interpretation, there isn't necessarily a single correct way to interpret this lyric.

There is, of course, the literal interpretation of a house behind trees, perhaps behind a hedgerow for privacy, or perhaps behind a tree garden, or even on a street which is lined with trees. These would be the mark of someone with an abundance of land, and perhaps the money or pedigree to accompany it. This interpretation is congruent with the preceding lyric mentioning the vanishing point appearing, suggesting a plot of land so large that the house would be far in the distance, perhaps even unseen, from the gate.

But the phrase also recalls others that reference bourgeois living: along quiet tree-lined streets behind white picket fences across well-kept lawns, in what The Economist will invariably call a leafy suburb. These clichés do not necessarily evoke a life of wealth, but of order, gentility, and security when used positively— or conformity, vapidity, and phoniness when used negatively.

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