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This song appears on the album 'For the Roses'

This song appears on the album 'The Studio Albums, 1968-1979'

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Electricity

by Joni Mitchell   Printer-friendly version of this lyric

The Minus is loveless
He talks to the land
And the leaves fall
And the pond over-ices
She don't know the system Plus
She don't understand
She's got all the wrong fuses and splices
She's not going to fix it up
Too easy

The masking tape tangles
It's sticky and black
And the copper
Proud headed Queen Lizzie *
Conducts little charges
That don't get charged back
Well the technical manual's busy
She's not going to fix it up too easy
And she holds out her flashlight
And she shines it on me
She wants me to tell her
What the trouble might be
Well I'm learning
It's peaceful
With a good dog and some trees
Out of touch with the breakdown
Of this century
They're not going to fix it up
Too easy

We once loved together
And we floodlit that time
Input output electricity
But the lines overloaded
And the sparks started flying
And the loose wires
Were lashing out at me
She's not going to fix that up
Too easy
But she holds out her candle
And she shines it in
And she begs him to show her
How to fix it again
While the song that he sang her
To soothe her to sleep
Runs all through her circuits
Like a heartbeat
She's not going to fix it up
Too easy


© Joni Mitchell

Additional information:

*Footnotes

Proud Headed Queen Lizzie refers to the Canadian one cent coin (penny). In Canada, the front side of all coins have had Queen Elizabeth 2 on them since 1953. The above pictured effigy appeared on Canadian coins from 1965 to 1989. Joni may have been looking at this one when she wrote the song.

In the song, I think, she is referring to the penny coin replacement in a fuse box as described below. I'll let you figure out a deeper meaning, but for me it might be that she is referring to the protagonist (the women in this case) "who has hot wired herself despite having blown a fuse - the protection and thus defeating the fuse box - self control" , but don't quote me.

If your home was built around 1950 or before, you probably have fuses. If it was built after that time, you probably have circuit breakers. Although they look different, they serve the same function - to protect the wire (from overheating and causing a fire). Fuses are glass with a lead band that is visible through the glass base and screw into a fuse socket. Fuses and circuit breakers have nothing to do with electricity. Their only purpose is to protect the wire they are attached to by keeping it from overheating. Oversized fuses or circuit breakers do not enhance the electric circuitry or the equipment they serve. The use of a too large fuse, the installation of a metal disk such as a coin in the fuse box, or the use of tape to keep a circuit open defeats the purpose of the fuse box or circuit breaker and comprises its integrity, increasing the possibility of an electrical fire. 

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Comments on Electricity

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cmgrb on 2012-Jul-06 at 02:19:05 GMT-5:
my favorite on the album...musical genius effective lyrical manipulation
oh you poet you

thank you

my son james became a joni mitchell fan after hearing this song and the rest of the fine album it's embeded in
epigene on 2011-Mar-24 at 22:50:51 GMT-5:
Simply the best. I appreciate and enjoy Joni's music, lyrics, poetry, artistry and musicianship.

You have been a positive emotional and inspirational source for many people.

What a great gift you have given everyone that has listened to your music! Thank you.