Monday, 12 October 2015

My Top Ten Songs For Electricians

Some time ago (well, 2+ years... my, how time flies) when I unveiled My Top Ten Carpentry Songs I fully intended to follow it up with songs devoted to other popular trades. Finally, I decided to have a go at electricians - but I wanted to avoid all the obvious Electric songs (Dreams / Friends / Avenue / Ladyland / Spanking of War Babies etc.) because they'll fit into their own post one day. So here, instead, are ten songs specifically about electricians... or about the things they deal with on a daily basis.

Special mention to Cliff Richard - Wired For Sound which is as close to a guilty pleasure as I get (considering how broad and cheesy these lists do sometimes go). I tried to find room for Sir Cliff here, but in the end I had to admit that it's a song more about speakers (tall ones and small ones - Cliff has no time for midi). The rollerskating video is always worth a look though...

Further special mentions to Elvis and George Harrison, both of whom (according to t'internet) started out as apprentice electricians before more successful careers beckoned...

10. Robert Palmer - I Dream Of Wires

Perhaps I should have gone with Gary Numan's original version, but I was always a huge fan of Bob Palmer's voice and I consider it a tragedy that he died as young as he did because I bet he could have gone on and on... as Numan himself has done.

Anyway, I Dream Of Wires is one of the few songs I know that actually mentions an electrician in its lyrics, though it actually tells of a completely "wireless" future wherein the "last electrician alive" looks back fondly on a world that was a little less alien...
We opened doors by thinking
We went to sleep by dialing 'o'
We drove to work by proxy
I plugged my wife in, just for show

New ways, new ways
I dream of wires

So I press 'c' for comfort
I dream of wires, the old days
Other songs to mention electricians directly include Better Things by Massive Attack & Tracy Thorn  (You say the magic's gone / Well, I'm not a magician / You say the spark's gone / Well get an electrician), Demystification by Zounds (My electronic shaver won't plug into the wall /
Now I can't go to the party, the electrician didn't call) and Nick Cave's amazing Babe, I'm On Fire. Oh, and this...

9. John Parish - Kansas City Electrician

An artist whose solo work I only discovered quite recently, though he's been knocking around for years, working with the likes of PJ Harvey, Eels and Sparklehorse. KCE sounds like classic American alt-rock, so I was surprised to find out that Parish is actually from the UK (Yeovil), though I guess his lyrical slang ("nowt", "that bloke") should have given him away. A great song: made me go out and buy the album.  

8. Muse - Plug In Baby

I have a curious relationship with Muse. I liked their early material very much and even went to see them playing live when they were just starting out (at The Leadmill, I think). Matt Bellamy spent most of the show with his back to the audience... and I never really recovered from that. (Believe it or not, I much preferred the support act. They were called Cold something. No idea what happened to them.)

7. Teenage Fanclub - Sparky's Dream

A cracking single from the Fannies, one of their best. The Byrds have a lot to answer for.

6. Electric Six - Danger! High Voltage

Very silly.




Good, though.

The video's a work of art.

5. The Wonder Stuff - Change Every Light Bulb

The opening track from what is sometimes my favourite Stuffies album, Construction For The Modern Idiot. Not heard this in ages.

4. Athlete - Wires

A very emotive song, more so when you know that it's about the premature birth of lead Athlete Joel Pott's daughter and the life support system that kept her going.

3. Slaves - Sockets

I haven't made up my mind yet, but Slaves are definite contenders for the best new band of 2015. They've got the snotty punk appeal of early Supergrass, but a little more to say for themselves lyrically. They're just two lads from Kent (Laurie Vincent on guitar / bass and Isaac Holman on drums: they both sing) but they make a hell of a satisfying racket.

On first listen, the Sockets they sing about here appear to be the ones in your head rather than the ones an electrician would fix. The video suggests otherwise...

2. Barenaked Ladies - Light Up My Room

The Barenaked Ladies are a clever band - sometimes a little too clever - but this is the closest they ever got to capturing my heart as well as tickling my funny bone. Here, a whole town is infected with electricity thanks to a nearby Hydrofield (what the Canadians call a bunch of pylons, basically), making every resident into an amateur electrician.
I can put a spare bulb in my hand
And light up my yard...
1. Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman

Longtime readers of my ramblings may have seen this one coming: but I'll be honest with you, when I started planning this post I hadn't even considered that a lineman was an electrician. Once I'd made the connection, it had to be Number One, for the sheer fact that it is the greatest song ever written (Jimmy Webb Is God) and, though there are many fine versions in existence, no one will ever top Glen's haunting and heartbreaking delivery. I could go on and on about what makes it so special (the way that the melody and the lyrics merge together to create a seamless jewel; the yearning romanticism and evocative imagery; "And I need you more than want you / And I want your for all time") but I've probably said it all elsewhere. Simply put, there is no finer recording and if I could make it Number One every week, I would.

Which one would you get to wire your house (for sound)?


  1. Electric Six Classic!

    HWMBO gives you ACDC Flick of the Switch - I think it sounds like everything else they've ever done...he sees this as a good thing.

    I know you mentioned George Harrison as an honourable but that made me remember a plug in one from him and I think I know it because it is instrumental and I was very into that sort of thing for a while because I thought it was cool and clever - I was mostly wrong but perhaps this time I was right maybe this was cool Probably should have stayed there rather than toddling off to Jean Michel Jarre!

    1. Tell He Who... that I almost went with AC/DC's Livewire.

      Good call on the George though.

  2. I immediately thought of Sparky's Dream - glad to see it feature
    Across the Wire by Calexico?

    1. I can see potential in a Top Ten Wire Songs...

  3. You did that gig with me. It was the crappeat gig I have been to except for Coldplay but the rest of the tour got Soulwax which would have been far better. I

  4. You did that gig with me. It was the crappeat gig I have been to except for Coldplay but the rest of the tour got Soulwax which would have been far better. I

  5. You did that gig with me. It was the crappeat gig I have been to except for Coldplay but the rest of the tour got Soulwax which would have been far better. I

  6. Nothing by Sparks? (I'll get my coat...)

    1. No, I should have done that one. And Wire. But maybe not The Lighthouse Family...

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