Electric guitar gets run over by a car on the highway
This is a crime against the state
This is the meaning of life.

To tune this electric guitar

An electric guitar is brought in to a court of law
The judge and the jury (twelve members of the jury)
All listening to records
This is a crime against the state
This is the verdict they reach:

Never listen to electric guitar

Electric guitar is copies, the copy sounds better
Call this the law of justice, call this freedom and liberty
I thought I perjure myself, right in front of the jury!
Is this a crime against the state? No!
This is the verdict they reach:

Someone controls electric guitar.

Lyrics submitted by Chris_Gough

Electric Guitar Lyrics as written by Jerry Harrison David Byrne

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Electric Guitar song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentIt's "copied" not "copies", though that was probably a typo.

    I have this idea that this song is kind of about the gradual rise of the synthesizer in popular music. For a while people seemed kind of threatened that electronic instruments would entirely replace "real" ones, and this seems to be ridiculing that idea by taking it to the ludicrous extreme of electric guitars literally becoming outlawed.
    destroyalltacoson April 11, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThat's an interesting theory, destroyalltacos. I quite agree.

    I read somewhere that Byrne wanted the person listening to "Fear Of Music" to be able to take almost every theme from that album and substitute the title for the word "music." So, fear of electric guitar, fear of heaven, fear of mind, fear of cities, fear of drugs, fear of animals, etc. Taking that in mind, it's a bit easier to understand the meanings behind most of the songs on that album.
    majestikmoose9on June 20, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentKiller song. Yeah, it can be about what destroyalltacos said, interesting point of view. It covers quite well the whole song.
    The last line maybe points out to the idea of a speech behind music, kind of like when you "listen to electric guitar" you're getting brainwashed. Hence "someone controls electric guitar". Bands and artists can have any kind of attitude, even seem rebellious to society, but in the end - saving a handful of exceptions - they are controlled up to some point by, say, the music industry. They're electric guitars, and someone controls them.
    Going a bit further, replace "electric guitar" with "rock band" on the 2nd verse and it doesn't sound out of place at all! It's commonplace to think about an opposition between rock bands ("electric guitars") and society ("this is a crime against the state", the judges - judge = authority - say when they're "listening to records").
    After all, when examining the attitude of electric guitars, they reach the conclusion: Someone controls electric guitar. They're just puppets.+
    As for the part of "copies", I have to admit I'm not so sure. I agree with destroyalltacos' theory on that part. I think it could be about both ideas exposed on this comment!

    Brilliant album, so true, so fresh still today.
    Santiagofon May 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI had not heard that, majetikmoose9. It's very interesting. "Fear of I Zimbra" doesn't make a great deal of sense, but most of the others certainly do. Most of the album's lyrics do convey a sense of fear or paranoia.
    Theyuchethon March 31, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment...After all, "never listen to electric guitar", i't's not the freedom you might think about, someone controls it! I forgot to add this to the previous comment.
    Santiagofon May 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationCensorship comes to my mind but the other theories above are really good as well
    guertin11on December 31, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can sort of see both the themes of "synths taking over" and "censorship" as concepts to base this song on... but what about the first verse? "Electric guitar is run over by a car on the highway. The meaning of life is to tune this electric guitar."

    How's *that* fit in????
    Stiglron March 04, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSuch a great, great song from a phenomenal album. Talking Heads' triptych of albums from 'More Songs ...' to 'Remain ...' were just a hattrick of brilliance. Even the Eno/Byrne collaboration in 1980 is a masterpiece. Byrne is such a talented guy that Eno helped to sculpt into a great art-piece for modern music. This is the verdict I reach
    exobscuraon October 26, 2020   Link

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