The Electric Co.
by U2

Songfacts®:

  • The title refers to Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT), which was a popular treatment in Irish mental hospitals, but one that the band felt was inhumane.

    There was a real mental institution in Dublin that inspired the song. It's was called Grangegorman District Mental Hospital (or "The Grangegorman"), and later renamed St. Brendan's Psychiatric Hospital. A school friend of the band was confined to the institution, and when Bono visited him, this friend talked about killing himself as a way out of the place.
  • A live favorite, this was first released on U2's debut album, Boy, in 1980, but found a much larger audience when it was included on their 1983 live album Under A Blood Red Sky, released after their breakthrough album War. On that version, recorded at the Rockpalast festival in Germany, Bono sang 27 seconds of Stephen Sondheim's "Send In The Clowns." Because they did not get permission, they had to pay Sondheim $50,000 and edit it out of US releases. It remains on non-US releases because the US copyright law does not apply. The song is listed as 5:18 on US versions of Under A Blood Red Sky, but the actual length is 4:51.
  • U2 included this on the set list for many of their 2005 shows.

Comments: 3

  • Mickey D. from Fremont, CaAfter the break, lyrics go like this...

    "...One three four, I can't stop
    You stay still in the song
    You stay still in the song, say reach out..."


    And near the end, it goes like this...

    "...See someone breaks the willow
    To say the sound go, to the top of Cassandro
    Covering me...Just to hear me...
    Two hours, two hours and two hours
    Listen I can't find my way home
    So alone...(Can't you, can't you get it)
    You know...And you know...And you know...
    And you know...And you know..."
  • Acrobat from Adelaide, AustraliaOne of their friends was put through ECT and that is where the idea of the song came to light.
  • Marc from Zwolle, Netherlandsthe first song I know with a fade-out ánd a fade-in at the end.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Cheerleaders In Music Videos

Cheerleaders In Music VideosSong Writing

It started with a bouncy MTV classic. Nirvana and MCR made them scary, then Gwen, Avril and Madonna put on the pom poms.

Bryan Adams

Bryan AdamsSongwriter Interviews

What's the deal with "Summer of '69"? Bryan explains what the song is really about, and shares more of his songwriting insights.

Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde of The PretendersSongwriter Interviews

The rock revolutionist on songwriting, quitting smoking, and what she thinks of Rush Limbaugh using her song.

Intentionally Atrocious

Intentionally AtrociousSong Writing

A selection of songs made to be terrible - some clearly achieved that goal.

He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss): A History Of Abuse Pop

He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss): A History Of Abuse PopSong Writing

Songs that seem to glorify violence against women are often misinterpreted - but not always.

Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)

Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)Songwriter Interviews

"Come On Eileen" was a colossal '80s hit, but the band - far more appreciated in their native UK than stateside - released just three albums before their split. Now, Dexys is back.