Song Lyrics

The Three Great Stimulants

by Joni Mitchell

play
Printer-friendly version of this lyric

I picked the morning paper off the floor
It was full of other people's little wars
Wouldn't they like their peace
Don't we get bored
And we call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice brutality and innocence
Artifice and innocence

No tanks have ever rumbled through these streets
and the drone of planes at night has never frightened me
I keep the hours and the company that I please
And we call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice brutality and innocence
Artifice and innocence

Oh and deep in the night
Our appetites find us
Release us and bind us
Deep in the night
While madmen sit up building bombs
And making laws and bars
They'd like to slam free choice behind us

I saw a little lawyer on the tube
He said "It's so easy now anyone can sue"
"Let me show you how your petty aggravations can profit you!"
Call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice brutality and innocence
Artifice and innocence

Oh and deep in the night
Appetites find us
Release us and blind us
Deep in the night
While madmen sit up building bombs
And making laws and bars
They're gonna slam free choice behind us

Last night I dreamed I saw the planet flicker
Great forests fell like buffalo
Everything got sicker
And to the bitter end
Big business bickered
And they call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice brutality and innocence
Artifice and innocence

Oh these times, these times
Oh these changing times
Change in the heart of all mankind
Oh these troubled times

© 1985; Crazy Crow Music

Footnotes to Three Great Stimulants

Joni's lyric here is inspired by reading Nietzsche's essay on Wagner ("The Case of Wagner: Nietzsche Contra Wagner; The Twilight of the Idols, The AntiChrist"):

Wagner's art is morbid. The problems which he brings upon the stage - nothing but problems of hysterics- , the convulsiveness of his emotion, his over-excited sensibility, his taste, which always asked for stronger stimulants, his instability, which he disguised as principles, and, not least, the choice of his heroes and heroines, regarded as physiological types (a gallery of morbid individuals!): altogether these symptoms represent a picture of disease about which there can be no mistake. Wagner est une nevrose. Nothing is perhaps better known at present, at any rate nothing is studied more than the Protean character of degeneracy, which here crystallises as art and artist. Our physicians and physiologists have in Wagner their most interesting case, at least a very complete case. Just because nothing is more modern than this entire morbidness, this decrepitude and over-excitability of the nervous mechanism, Wagner is the modern artist par excellence, the Cagliostro of modernism. In his art there is mixed, in the most seductive manner, the things at present most necessary for everybody the three great stimulants of the exhausted, brutality, artifice, and innocence (idiocy).

Comments on Three Great Stimulants

Comment using your Facebook profile, or by registering at this site.

You must be registered and log in to add a permanently indexed comment.

Facebook comments