LAURIE ANDERSON lyrics - Dance Of Electricity

"Dance Of Electricity"

A while ago, I got a call from the Tesla Institute in Belgrade, long distance. The voice was very faint and it said, "Understand do we that much of your work has been dedicated to Nikola Tesla and do we know the blackout of information about this man in the U.S. of A. And so we would like to invite you to the Institute as a free citizen of the world... as a free speaker on American Imperialist Blackout of Information.. Capitalist resistance to Technological Progress... the Western World's obstruction of Innovation. So think about it." He hung up. I thought: Gee, really a chance to speak my mind, and I started doing some research on Tesla, whose life story is actually really sad.
Basically, he was the inventor of AC current, lots of kinds of generators and the Tesla coil. His dream was wireless energy. And he was working on a system in which you could plug appliances directly into the ground. A system which he never really perfected.
Tesla came over from Graz and went to work for Thomas Edison. Edison couldn't stand Tesla for several reasons. One was that Tesla showed up for work every day in formal dress-morning coat, spats, top hat and gloves-and this just wasn't the American Way at the time. Edison also hated Tesla because Tesla invented so many things while wearing these clothes.
Edison did his best to prevent conversion to AC and did everything he could to discredit it. In his later years, Edison was something of a showman and he went around on the Chautauqua circuit in upstate New York giving demonstrations of the evil effects of AC. He always brought a dog with him and he'd get up on stage and say: "Ladies and gentlemen! I will now demonstrate the effects of AC current on this dog!" And he took two bare wires and attached them to the dog's head and the dog was dead in under thirty seconds.
At any rate, I decided to open the series of talks in Belgrade with a song called "The Dance of Electricity" and its beat is derived from an actual dance-an involuntary dance-and it's the dance you do when one of your fingers gets wedged in a live socket and your arms start pumping up and down and your mouth is slowly opening and closing and you can feel the power but no words will come out.

United States Live (1984)