The Light Went On
(By Jonathan Sprout & Dave Kinnoin)
There he sat by the candle flame,
Thomas Alva Edison was his name.
In search of a way to bring light to the night,
He kept thinking, but he couldn't get it right.
Then something in the waxy glow
Told him what he had to know.
Set his imagination free.
REFRAIN: That's when the light went on in his head.
The light went on.
Working night and day
To find a better way,
When the light went on in his head.
There he sat with a pad and pen,
Thomas Alva Edison inventing again.
In search of a way he could capture sound
And then play it back to everyone around.
Then something made him stop and laugh.
Dreaming of a phonograph
Set his imagination free.
BRIDGE: Glass bulb, filament, stretch into an arc.
Vacuum seal it up. Add a tiny spark.
Stand back, turn it on. Glowing in the dark!
He left his mark in Menlo Park.
©1995 Kanukatunes (ASCAP) & Song Wizard Music (ASCAP)
Often called the greatest inventor who ever lived, he patented over 1,000 inventions. These included the motion-picture projector, the phonograph and the electric light bulb. Though he completed only three months of schooling, he loved to read. It was his powerful imagination, his firm optimism and his complete self-confidence that enabled him to spend long hours inventing things that would make life better for all of humanity.
“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison
“The world owes nothing to any man, but every man owes something to the world.” – Thomas Edison
“If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas Edison
I visited the Thomas Edison home in Ft. Myers, FL where Edison (and Henry Ford, his good friend and next door neighbor) would spend his winters. I highly recommend this place (especially in the winter)! You can see the sleeping cot that Edison’s wife thoughtfully placed in his office, as he had been in the habit of napping on his desk. You can see the huge beautiful banyan tree, brought from India and given to Mr. Edison in 1925 by Harvey Firestone. The tree is now approximately 400 feet!
In the museum here, you can see a car Edison built using tires that were made from goldenrod. Yes, goldenrod, the weed! In the days when the tire industry was dependent on rubber trees from South America (before tires were made from oil products), Edison wanted to find a way to make a rubber-like material from a plant that could be grown in the United States. After much experimenting, he came up with a specially grown very tall version of goldenrod. (When the world began making tires out of oil products, this project became unimportant.)
My favorite story from a guide on the tour of this winter site: The swimming pool story. Since he was involved with re-inventing concrete (making it stronger and longer lasting), Mr. Edison built on his property one of the first concrete swimming pools in the world. It was used by his family and guests, but evidently, Mr. Edison never once swam in it. When asked by one of his gardeners why he never exercised in the pool, Edison is reported to have said he thought exercise was silly, that the sole purpose of the body is to hold up the head!
Somehow Mr. Edison managed to live a long life without exercising and with out much sleep. He would sleep, on average, four hours a night. This wouldn’t work for me, but somehow, it worked for him!
I visited the Edison Historical Site in West Orange, NJ and recommend it highly. I’ve enjoyed performing there on a couple of occasions. The park rangers there confirmed something I’d heard: Yes, it’s true that Thomas Edison not only invented the phonograph and the light bulb, he also “invented” the word…. “Hello!” Evidently, that’s what he would say on the telephone line when he was testing his improvements on Alexander Graham Bell’s invention.
We can be thankful every day for Mr. Edison’s inventions. Each one of us benefits from this man’s hard work and genius. Today, we are the ones experiencing the benefits of his hard work.
Edison National Historic Site, West Orange, NJ
The list of Edison’s 1,093 successful patent applications