Here is what I think of each Tori song I've ever heard. These may not
be "true" or correct or what Tori herself thought, but this is what I
get from them. If you have a comment, another view, please e-mail
me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get back to you. I'll post
any alternate views I get on this page.
CHOOSE BY SONG:
~Little Earthquakes and related singles~
CRUCIFY~ GIRL~ SILENT ALL THESE YEARS~ PRECIOUS THINGS~ WINTER~ HAPPY PHANTOM~ CHINA~ LEATHER~ MOTHER~ TEAR IN YOUR HAND~ ME AND A GUN~ LITTLE EARTHQUAKES~ TAKE TO THE SKY~ THE POOL~ SWEET DREAMS~ UPSIDE DOWN~ SUGAR~
~Under The Pink and related~
PRETTY GOOD YEAR~ GOD~ BELLS FOR HER~ PAST THE MISSION~ BAKER BAKER~ THE WRONG BAND~ THE WAITRESS~ CORNFLAKE GIRL~ ICICLE~ >CLOUD ON MY TONGUE~ SPACE DOG~ YES, ANASTASIA~ SISTER JANET~ DAISY DEAD PETALS~ HONEY~ HOME ON THE RANGE (WITH CHEROKEE ADDITION)~
~Boys For Pele and related~
BEAUTY QUEEN~ HORSES~ BLOOD ROSES~ FATHER LUCIFER~ PROFESSIONAL WIDOW~ MR. ZEBRA~ MARIANNE~ CAUGHT A LITE SNEEZE~ MUHAMMED MY FRIEND~ HEY JUPITER~ WAY DOWN~ LITTLE AMSTERDAM~ TALULA~ NOT THE RED BARON~ AGENT ORANGE~ DOUGHNUT SONG~ IN THE SPRINGTIME OF HIS VOODOO~ PUTTING THE DAMAGE ON~ TWINKLE~ GRAVEYARD~ TOODLES MR JIM~ SAMURAI~ FROG ON MY TOE~
~From The Choirgirl Hotel and related~
SPARK~ CRUEL~ BLACK-DOVE (JANUARY)~ RASPBERRY SWIRL~ JACKIE'S STRENGTH~ I I E E E~ LIQUID DIAMONDS~ SHE'S YOUR COCAINE~ NORTHERN LAD~ HOTEL~ PLAYBOY MOMMY~ PANDORA'S AQUARIUM~ PURPLE PEOPLE~ BACHELORETTE~ NEVER SEEN BLUE~ BEULAH LAND~
~To Venus and Back and related~
BLISS~ JUAREZ~ CONCERTINA~ GLORY OF THE 80'S~ LUST~ SUEDE~ JOSEPHINE~ RIOT POOF~ DATURA~ SPRING HAZE~ 1000 OCEANS~
This song is one about organized religion, and Tori's opinion that we should stop "killing ourselves" for everyone else, including God. Tori speaks of "looking for a saviour beneath these dirty sheets". Tori's position in the song is one of always behaving and doing as she's told. Be this, be that; it's the story of how we are told to behave by any religious sect. The theme also connects to being "everybody else's girl".
Crucify is a song where one stands up and says, "I am not going to take this anymore! I'm not free; I'm imprisoned by someone else's life (namely Jesus)". Christianity is a religion filled with mentions of our sins, pointing the finger at us. Tori refuses to accept this form of blame anymore. None of us should have to die cruelly for everyone else's sins. We need only accept responsibility for our personal actions. We should be loved regardless. Angels should always be there for comfort.
One of my fave quotes from this song is "You're just an empty cage girl if you kill the bird". To me this means, if you kill your spirit, and forget the part of you with your own beliefs, hopes and dreams, you're a hollow shell of a human being.
If you want to fully understand this song, a brief refresher on basic Bible stories will help. :) Though I was never raised with a religion, I caught on easily without any readings; "it's your choice babe".
This is a song that rings of Tori's days with Y Kan't Tori Read, and how she listened to far too many people trying to make her a star. In the end, she flopped, and was never less true to herself. In a sense this song begins with the concept of Tori's true self calling from within, saying "Tori honey, listen, we need to have a cup of tea and chat about this. You're forgetting what you've always been: a girl and the piano. Your soul is there. Be who you want to be. Stop being what everybody else wants to see."
It's a contemplation about letting go of oneself in all manners, in all ways, from religion (again) to the pressures of "the man". "The white coats enter her room and I'm callin' my baby..." refers to, for me anyways, a numbing, a sedation of your true self. Tori is screaming to her real self to break free before it's too late, to re-emerge and speak up. It's truly a song of liberation for me.
This song again relates to the idea of "sit in the chair and be good now". It speaks to me of allowing people to walk all over you, and biting your tongue when really, you just want to scream at the world. It calls out to everyone who's kept silent and afraid to speak up, be heard, and not be ashamed to be honest. One of the most inspirational tracks for sexual assault survivors, it was used as a "theme" song for RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network - cofounded by Tori herself).
One of the quotes I get asked about by friends as to meaning is "What if I'm a mermaid in these jeans of his with her name still on it?" Honestly? I still try to take the best meaning from this. This is how I appraoch it (and I'm sure there's better):
Mermaids are supposedly made of fantasy, but are believed in by some. Beautiful creatures on the outside, they are often quite cruel, vengeful and, in a word, "bitchy". Which is perhaps how Tori views herself..... The part about the jeans implies that for her latest man, she is fulfilling a fantasy that he's tried to fill over and over, the perfect, beautiful, special creature. Tori could be saying here, "Well what if I open my mouth and people think I'm a bitch when I speak and be me?"
The next line goes along with this: "Hey but I don't care......" This would seems to say, "Well who cares? I've finally found my voice and I need to let it out, regardless of what others think. So FUCK him and everyone!"
I love this song. The bridge especially calls to me..... "Years go by - will I choke on my tears til finally there is nothing left?"
This song speaks of the pain of childhood, and the conflict between a desire to be virtuous and the human yearning to be loved and touched. It also speaks of the pain of not fitting in, and learning life's truths too young. It's a song about letting go of those bad memories, no longer letting them hurt you.
This song is one of Tori's more brutally honest ones, and she doesn't hold back. Perhaps one of my favourite Tori quotes ever is "So you can make me cum - that doesn't make you Jesus". You can take the obvious meaning from this song: a man does not rule the world simply because he can provide sexual satisfaction. Or you can look at it from the point of view and remember that Tori's inner conflict with her sexuality versus strict Christian principles and her hiding away masturbating. Either way, this quote, and the entire song, are powerful and sincere.
"When you gonna love you as much as I do?" echoes Tori, summing up all that those who love us say and do. This is a song of growing up, growing apart from our peers and feeling different. It is also a reminder that we all deserve to be loved, and should love ourselves. Each of us is special, though we seldom remember that.
As we grow up we deny gender roles and stereotypes, or embrace them. In this song, Tori speaks of being pulled back and forth, knowing that she will grow into a woman, but fighting typical expectations and the inevitable arrival of the moment when she will have to part with childhood and be an adult. The song also speaks about the love of a father who wants what's best for his daughter, and sees the hard times approaching ("Things are gonna change so fast"). A beautiful song that moves me deeply.
This song is far more upbeat than the others on Little Earthquakes -- at least, upon the surface. Shrouded by upbeat piano, this somewhat light-hearted take on dying and feeling one's time drawing to a close has its more emotional lines upon reflection ("And the atrocities of school I can forgive/The happy phantom has no right to bitch").
It also speaks of what happens when we leave this earth, and how we question our loves and wonder, "Would he REALLY remember me if I died?" To me, this could be a more upbeat speech for a modern Hamlet -- "To be (a happy phantom) or not to be -- Tori answer the question". :)
The lack of communication in relationships, and the use of sex as the only means of intimacy is revealed in the lyrics of Leather. Tori speaks as a woman questioning why she continues to sleep with someone despite the fact that he only loves what she can do for him. She tries to rationalize this behaviour by maintaining, "Love isn't forever anyway, so why not?"
The last verse refers to the movie "It's A Wonderful Life". This allusion could be a symbol of the fact that Tori feels alone, feels the woman within that craves love dying and slipping away. Perhaps she feels this part of her should die since no one seems to care about it. This is my take on this last verse, but I'd love to hear others.
Pretty Good Year is a song that was born from a letter sent to Tori by a man who had difficulties with women. The song, refered to by Tori as "Ode to the Banana King pt 2", is about the confusion when things die, like relationships. The love lost is evidences in the allusion of the "eternal footman", taken from a poem about a man in love. It speaks to me of all the things one tries to make things alright again, while thinking, "It was a pretty good year, all in all". A beautiful song.
Another of Tori's comments on organized religion, and how so many seek him out and are let down. Tori suggests that maybe the man upstairs is lonely, and needs a woman in his life. To me, it speaks of the feelings I have of God being rather ambivalent to the suffering on this earth, and the lack of mercy shown to those in pain. To me, it seems that a woman would be good to teach him caring and compassion. The video speaks volumes, with images paralleling drug use with religious practices.
Bells For Her literally poured out of Tori; luckily for us Eric Rosse had hit record "just in case"! To me, it speaks of two friends who have been close since childhood. One relies on the other for her mind, her advice. The other relies on her friend's bravery, her ability to speak up. Together, they go through life, though one of them (Tori's first person) knows that something is coming, something that will pull them apart. That something is a man.
The song ends on a sad note, with "You have her face and her eyes but you are not her." Tori realizes that the girl her friend was is gone, replaced with a new person, a new soul. And though she cannot stop loving her, she resigns herself to the end of the friendship, as she knew all along that she couldn't stop it.
Tori has said this song is about the mistreatment of young boys at some sort of facility, which I will call "the mission". To me, taking this as a clue, the song is about Tori's days as a minister's daughter, moving about with her father perhaps and helping people. This would correspond with "she said she knew what my books did not". As the song unfolds, it speaks of a woman, a "hot girl" who knows the truth of what happens at the facility, knows what is happening. From the last verse, with the line "hey they found a body", I get the sense that someone killed the owner who was being cruel, and the girl knows more than she's telling.
An alternate theory on the song's meaning posed by some is that the song is about Jesus and the crucifixion, and Mary Magdalene is the "hot girl" who knows things only she knows (about her love affair with Jesus).
This is a song about being left by someone, left alone to wonder about what went wrong. Tori speaks in this song of someone who has left her not because he doesn't love her -- I get the impression he does -- but rather because she could not open herself up to him completely, could not trust in him as he trusted her. It sounds almost as if it's foreshadowing her break-up with Eric Rosse to me, but that's just a personal ponderance. She's trying to justify to herself whether it was all her fault, or whether somewhere, he is flawed too. She can't handle the idea that she is entirely to blame. A sad song, one that I relate to all too well.
Tori has said this song refers to a woman she knew who was involved with a US Senator and knew too much about government operations and thus had to leave town. Honestly, I think this is the Tori song I like absolutely least because it says nothing to me. The only part I like is the line at the end, where Tori's friend urges her to open her eyes and be less naive. I apologize for having so little to say, but I just DON'T like this song.
A deliciously violent song, about a co-worker who Tori apparently can't stand. I love this song because it is so true. Often in our lives, we come across someone we would love to "kill", someone that everyone else views as SO WONDERFUL. Tori is in a predicament however: she doesn't believe in hurting people - she believes in peace BITCH. *L* Underlying the lyrics is the confusion one faces when one desperately wants to do something, but it conflicts with everything one stands for. A treasure!
This song, as many know now, is based on Alice Walker's acclaimed novel, "Possessing the Secret of Joy" (which I highly recommend!). It speaks of how women betray each other in patriarchal society, to save themselves, instead of uniting to overturn society's ways. And "we're sooooo good at it aren't we?", Tori points out. Tori makes one think of the more dramatic examples (female genital mutilation) to the more everyday (the way girls treat each other in high school).
Classic line from this song: "She's putting on her string-bean love". If that line isn't clear, think of how most people act when a relative or friend puts string beans on their plates.
This song has two meanings: the intended one, from Tori, and the one that many people hold to (for personal reasons, or simply because the lyrics DO lend that picture). First, Tori's version.
This song, to be blunt, is about Tori masturbating in church during services. As most of us are well aware, Tori's father is a minister. Her grandmother was also very "victorian" as Tori outs it, meaning that she held extremely conservative views about women (no sex before marriage, no sexual feelings, obey). Tori felt herself caught between wanting to please God by obeying these strict rules and her physical and emotional feelings that were being denied her. This feeling of being torn is expressed in the song.
View #2: Honestly, I didn't take the above from the song until I read in Tori's words where Icicle came from. The story I took was also quite emotional: to me, it spoke of being molested by a family monster, and needing to escape, fearing the return of the attacker. "Greeting the monster in our Easter dresses" refers to Tori's grandmother but to me, it held a more sinister meaning. "Icicle, icicle where are you going?/I have a hiding place when spring marches in" in this new light refers to dreading spring (and Easter) because that's when the molester comes to visit. Many survivors take this second interpretation, or at least relate in this way to the song. Either way, this song is most powerful.
One of the most powerful songs, and most beautiful to me. The inspiration was alluded to recently by Tori at a private intimate session on the all too brief "Venus" tour. Tori mentioned that a young man asked her to go away to Borneo with him (and no it wasn't Eric - she made that clear). But she had just gotten back with Eric, and yet a part of her knew he'd forever marked her, left an impression. Honestly, taken from this context, it sounds as though this young man quite liked by Tori -- until she discovered his ways of treating women ("Hard to hide a 100 girls in your hair"; "All the girls here are freezing cold"). To me, it speaks of deception by someone loved dearly, and wanting them to leave and take all trace of their memory. A cloud on one's tongue could mean that one wants to speak, the words are there but they don't emerge until he's gone ("He goes and it goes"). Or this may refer to her lingering feelings for him. Sad yet an underlying bitter current make this song memorable.
One of the quirkiest songs to Tori's credit (along with Agent Orange and Mr. Zebra). I've read in places that it was inspired by someone Tori saw in a diner, who was rambling, off in his own world about "space dog". To me, it speaks of the paranoia in our lives, how we see a conspiracy wherever we go. "So sure we were on something/Your feet are finally on the ground. girl" refers to (in my opinion) how sometimes when we realize how life works, we are unable to believe it. "This must be a drug-induced trip" we think.... But then we are told: "Nope. You've finally returned to earth, finally come back to reality."
This song is Tori's idea of what may have happened to Anastasia, the famous princess who disappeared and was never found (or at least, no one could prove that the girl claiming she was Anastasia was who she said). For a bit of quick history, Anastasia's entire family was killed and she disappeared that night, never to be heard from again. Impostors tried, but no one ever convinced all that she was the princess. Tori "hopes she told the story right". For me, this song is written from the point of view of the real Anastasia, returning home to claim what was hers, only to face doubts ("If you know me so well then tell me which hand I use"). It also flashes back to the loss she suffered ("We'll see how brave you are"). A tragic story woven in an unforgettable symphony of emotion.
This album marked the appearance of Tori's "mini-songs"; there are 3 on this disc, beginning with Beauty Queen. To me, this song speaks of someone who is confused about their outer appearance, and how it conflicts with what's inside. The beauty queen is Tori, who is perceived as sexy and gorgeous out in public, in the "laundry scene" (which represents mass media to me because they air people's dirty laundry). She can't understand what people see in her, what beauty they see, but she lies and pretends it makes perfect sense to her. Inside, she feels anything but pretty. This is my guess anyway; anyone else want to take a shot? :)
Horses, to me, speaks of someone who is battling demons from relationships past and gone. It speaks of a need to escape through the imagery of the horse and riding away. Tori has commented that the horses from winter are back to take us on a journey, and they do; they take us on a journey through love lost, and the pain women must face. "As long as your army keeps perfectly still" says to me that Tori can get away, as long as the memories stop attacking, stop advancing and remain still, back in the past. She speaks of ways to heal herself ("maybe I'll find me a sailor, a tailor").
At the same time, Tori doesn't want to escape from this person; rather she wants to track him down and make him stay. She describes the relationship as her chasing, only to find she has gained nothing in the search ("opened my hands and they were empty"). She is trying to maintain a brave facade, one of "I don't need you", yet she knows that "if there is a way to find you, I will find you". What she wants to know is if this person knows her, or would care to have her at his side ("will you find me if Neil makes me a tree"). The last part ("Threads that are golden don't break easily") suggests to me that this person left in pursuit of his own fame, and told her she couldn't be part of this life he sought. Perhaps, now she's famous, this song is a way of saying, "I'm famous too now, can we be together now?" A beautiful song...
This song is about obedience, to the point of sacrificing oneself for a man. It speaks of a man who takes and takes all that he can from a woman, expecting complete co-operation in return, expecting his woman to be "nothing but meat". The imagery of chickens tasting meat conjures up an image of someone who is being pecked at, pecked away piece by piece by other people.
"He likes killing you after you're dead" is the most memorable line from this song, next to "I think you're a queer". The first refers to someone who destroys your soul after abusing the body, using it for one thing then throwing it away. My opinion of the latter is that any woman who resists this man is told she must be "queer" not to want to be with someone. Tori counters with "you must be queer to have to be with so many woman, using them for sex and crowing about it to prove you're straight". Another line which sticks out from this song is "I shaved every place where you've been boy"; this line is about cleansing.
The song ends on a very negative note, with the woman still sacrificing herself, quietly crying, knowing she is nothing but meat. A vicious, powerful song.
Inspired by a trip Tori went on (and I don't mean on a plane :) ), Father Lucifer refers to Tori having visions of Lucifer as being an ice cream man, or so the story goes. The meaning of the song can be summed up with "Father Lucifer you never looked so sane". Sometimes, when one is not rational, one can see the method in anyone's madness. The song is filled with images of sins or wrongs that occur all around us in a kaleidoscope ("girls that eat pizza and never gain weight") and the idea of how sometimes we seek the bad ("don't go yet"). The bridge is noted by many Tori fans to be one of the most amazing pieces of Tori's work.
This song is rumoured to be written about Courtney Love, and when I think of this song in that light, I laugh a hell of a lot because I see why people think that. Just look at the line "Don't blow those brains yet"
This song, to me, is about a woman who has been hardened because of how she has been treated by men, namely her father. She speaks of Starfuckers, which I interpret to be people who sleep their way to where they wish to be, and worship those who can take them farther. She has watched how her dad "sold" his daughter to get what he wanted, and how she is using her boyfriend/husband to be "big". She insists that he must keep it up, keep going, make more money, do more. It's "proportion boy". The last verse speaks of drugs, and how "she" will supply. Who is she: Mother Mary? Our dear Professional Widow? You decide. :)
A nursery rhyme-like quality permeates this second "mini-song" of BFP, but I don't imagine you'll hear it being sung to newborns. A delightful tale from someone who has held witness to much backstabbing in her "hole hole hole". She tells us of Mrs. Crocodile, who wields great power because she believes she is powerful. She also has a tendency to bury people alive, thought not literally I'm sure. Keep your friends close, but your Crocodiles closer, is the moral of this story *L*
This song was written for Marianne, a girl who was said to have committed suicide while Tori was in high school. It speaks of the grief one feels, and what is said around you when someone has died. " She was so pretty/Why why why did she crawl down in the old deep ravine" is a shot at those who think looks determine one's happiness and cannot imagine a "pretty girl" committing suicide, nor can they understand the pain one feels when one is suicidal. Tori also mentions her imaginary friends from childhood (purple monkey, the weasel), coming to visit her in her time of grief and loss, as she struggles to understand and let go. A poignant song.
This song is about breaking up, and the pain that comes with it. The imagery of the video captures the essence of this song: Tori is pushing herself back and forth between giving up and ending her life or fighting to move on, a struggle between allowing the past pain to consume her or moving forward. It speaks of the pain of realizing that a loved one could throw away something she valued, but he obviously didn't, and the loneliness of being without someone. Although she tries to hide her pain, she knows she needs a "big loan from the girl zone".
Muhammad My Friend is a very pointed jab at religion, and something that Tori has noted she brought up to her father, Reverend Amos, at a young age: what if Joseph had emerged from the stables and said "It's a girl"? Throughout the song, references are made to various religious figures including the Pope, Moses, Muhammad. It's a comment on the state of religion and the loss of its true meaning underneath the patriarchy and control it has come to mean. The fact that the baby is described as a girl, and that it has been kept secret, is Tori's way of saying that from its inception, the organized form of Christianity has been crucifying women.
Tori herself has commented that this song began in a time where her love life was a complete mess, and nobody would answer her calls (particularly Eric who, we know, split up with Tori sortly after UTP. There are mumblings that Tori has miscarried a baby with Eric but that's beside the point. Tori was sitting alone and, according to her on Storytellers, John Lennon came and sang HJ to her. The song itself is a heart-wrenching recognition that a relationship is over, and coming to terms with one's mistakes in that relationship, and having to let it go. "This little masochist is lifting up her dress" is probably one of the most gut wrenching lyrics Tori has ever written, and it always strikes a chord with me. Devastation abounds. There is a throwback to Tori's song Leather in this song: "Took my leather off the shelf". To me, that line signifies that Tori has sort of given up on finding love, and will return to the attitude of Leather e.g. "oh well if love isn't forever, screw it I'll just do this for the sex".
Short and wonderful, this song is a personal favourite of mine. It marks the midpoint, and a turn musically on the album, as Tori begins to find more inner strength and power. To me, it's a resolution to expore the lowest place one may be in willingly, to go there and learn and explore.
The flavour that comes with recording in the South emerges on this song, as Tori tells the tale of a woman in love with the wrong man, and the division of race. This song's always been a bit of a puzzler for me, maybe because I've never been too fond of it. But from what I gather, to keep her coloured lover safe, the woman in this story screws around with the sheriff. Things take a twist and the woman ends up dead, in my opinion from the sheriff's hand. Perhaps she was married to the sheriff and he discovered her elicit affair? Eiether way, this song sort of reminds me of the movie Rosewood. In that movie, a white woman is having an affair with a coloured man in 1920's Florida. Based on true events, when the affair is discovered, the woman claims the black man raped her, leading to the slaughter of most of the black residents in town. Disturbing and sad.... like Little Amsterdam.
Talula, to me, is about abortion. I look at lines like "Wrapped in your papoose, your little fig newton" and see images of a woman carrying a child, and choosing whwther or not to abort it, knowing it "must be worth losing if it is worth something". The song allused to a Russian skater who died of a heart attack *blanking on his name here, but he skated with his wife. Sergei something*. There's also a jab at Sesame Street prostuting Christian values and being used to garner cash from parents ("he's my favourite hooker of the whole bunch"). The other line that strikes me as making this song about abortion is "And it's in God's hands but I don't know who the Father is". I get this sense of a woman being pressured into abortion yet wanting to somehow keep the child.
Tori has described this as a song to the men she was burned up in her life, the image that they are crashing in little planes and while she has been seeking fire in them, she has been consuming them. This is sort of, from that sense, an apology for things gone wrong. The song takes on a more general view of men crashing down, and Tori singing them a little comforting tune as they pass on. The end line "The prettiest red ribbons" is often taken by fans, including myself, to be an allusion to AIDS and the gay men who have died from it. Tori, being very gay friendly, would be likely to make this allusion, which is why I believe it.
Agent Orange is a silly little song about Tori's long time bodyguard, Joel. She often plays it if doing a concert on his birthday. If you've never met Joel, he's rather tan, very muscular and blonde. He really looks like one of those guys who you would see working out on some beach in Florida. With that image in mind, take the song as you will
Continuing with the theme of break-ups and relationships, this song has a different edge to it when compared to CALS or HJ. Instead of pure devastation and feeling weak, Tori is beginning to see that maybe it isn't completely her fault. That perhaps, the love of her life isn't as perfect as she is painting him in her mind. And the fact she is still hung up on him makes her realize she is definitely a bit crazy, for lack of better terms (I'f I'm hanging on to your shade, I guess I'm way beyond the pale"). There is also the sense that maybe he has never learned to appreciate Tori, as opposed to Tori being some burden ("And if I'm wasting all your time, this time/I guess you never learned to take"). This song is a very good friend of mine.