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This song appears on the album 'Night Ride Home'

This song appears on the album 'Misses'

This song appears on the album 'Complete Geffen Recordings'

This song appears on the album 'The Beginning of Survival'

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Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free)

by Joni Mitchell   Printer-friendly version of this lyric

Magdalene is trembling
Like a washing on a line
Trembling and gleaming
Never before was a man so kind
Never so redeeming

Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Ecstasy
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)

I am up a sycamore
Looking through the leaves
A sinner of some position
Who in the world can this heart healer be
This magical physician

Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Misery
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)

Enter the multitudes
The walking wounded
They come to this diver of the heart
of the multitudes
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done

Oh climb down climb down he says to me
From the middle of unrest
They think his light is squandered
But he sees a stray in the wilderness
And I see how far I've wandered

Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Apathy
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)

Enter the multitudes
The walking wounded
They come to this diver of the heart
of the multitudes
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done

Oh all around the marketplace
The buzzing of the flies
The buzzing and the stinging
Divinely barren
And wickedly wise
The killer nails are ringing

Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Tragedy
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)


© 1988, 1991;

Additional information:

Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free) has been recorded by 5 others

Big Yellow Taxi (from "A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2002)
Dorsey, Gail Anne (from "(live performance)" - 2002)
Frans, Brenda (from "Touching Souls" - 2010)
Henning Olsen Band (from "A Tribute Minus Mitchell" - 2004)
Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet (from "Safaris to the Heart - The Songs of Joni Mitchell" - 2010)
» [more information on recordings by other artists]

Comments on Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free)

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rpraborn on 2012-Apr-17 at 05:00:38 GMT-5:
This is a very moving song for me. However my analysis seems very different than others and seems so obvious that it's biblical. It is as if she is confronting the devil and saying who are you going to get to do your dirty work once i set my people free. There are so many references to the life of Jesus, and scripture, but she is also multi dimensional. Exxon blue?? I have worked in an Exxon plant and there uniforms are blue, and its capitalized. This song really touches a special place in my heart.
danno on 2012-Apr-06 at 09:56:03 GMT-5:
i love this song... the rolling rhythm, the lush guitar, but it drives me crazy. who are the f'ing "slaves" and what "dirty work" is being done?
chernobyl red?
valdez oil blue?
verdi678 on 2010-May-28 at 20:56:24 GMT-5:
well i'm sure joni can tell how free your not-maybe we'll define the meaning of historical masculinity when we do the dirty work that comes with 3 dimensional imaginations-
karenvega on 2009-Jun-26 at 13:30:44 GMT-5:
I was just thinking of Joni's mother.
This is what she read at her funeral.
I remember the moment I first heard these lyrics, and how I felt as a child, understanding the meaning.
I know she misses her mother, and being with her father and dealing with her own health issues.
I just wanted her to know that I care.