Monday, April 30, 2012

Top 20 Tori Amos songs



Rarely do artists have such dedicated fans as Tori Amos. Tori is an artist who inspires either hatred or pure love, there seems to be no in between. To compile a list of top Tori Amos tracks seems an exercise in futility, since no two fans can agree on anything, whether it be song interpretations, let alone which songs are essential. There is never a consensus on which songs are essential and many throw away some popular tracks for unknown ones, which is good but still missing some essentials. Tori Amos is a unique artist and no two albums sound the same. She has gone from baroque pop, to simple piano or harpsichord melodies, to electronica to classical on her latest release. There's no telling where her next album will lead. Looking through her work you do see some common themes. The most common are womanhood, femininity, religion, relationships, motherhood (lately), selfdiscovery, and heartbreak. Throughout her 12 (13 if you count Y Can't Tori Read) albums she has approached all these topics and has always managed to maintain true to herself and her diehard fanbase. She has also had some pretty interesting friendships with writers and musicians such as Neil Gaimain (who she mentions in song frequently), Trent Reznor (who sang on Past The Mission and Tori herself has made several references to Nine Inch Nails songs and albums), and Maynard James Keenan of Tool (there's a live version of Mohammed My Friend with him on backing vocals). She has also cofounded the foundation RAINN (The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), a toll-free help line in the US connecting callers with their local rape crisis center. Amos herself was a victim of rape (and has inspired some songs such as Me and A Gun and Silent All These Years). She is an inspiration musically and as a person and here are 20 songs which are some of my personal favorites.I would also like to add how much of an incredible live performer she is. She really gets into the songs and has such a passion for what she does. Here is my list of top 20 songs. I know some notable songs are missing but it's very difficult to narrow this down to 20 but here goes.


#20 Virginia from the album Scarlet's Walk (2002)
This song is about America, Native Americans struggles and the bloody history America has been through. The last line is especially interesting "Virginia, you can't remember your name". Virginia was the first state admitted into the nation, many early states and cities had Native American names, and also the name itself, Virginia..virgin, maybe about how the land was pure but then was corrupted.

#19 Concertina from the album From Venus and Back (1999)
A song about being all the different personalities inside you. Tori had this to say about it back in 1999. "Do you ever feel like you walk in a room, and you don't know why, but you're just so uncomfortable you're crawling out of your skin, even though nobody's touched you, physically? That's in 'Concertina,' when you feel like you haven't excavated enough of your different personalities that when one pops up, you're not sure where it came from, and you try to hack it out of yourself. It shocks you that you could have this kind of fault, or that other people could bring it out in you."

#18 Take to the Sky b-side of Winter
Great song! It's about living your own life and not caring about what anyone things. An empowering song. Having confidence even when it's hard. This song should be more popular.

# 17 Bouncing Off Clouds from the album American Doll Posse (2007)
The Beekeeper album deals with topics such as death, adultery, and the Gnostic gospels. This song is a simple song. It's about keeping a relationship with a person by not making things to complicated. It's about keeping things easy.

#16 A Sorta Fairytale from the album Scarlet's Walk (2002)
A song about being open to receive love. not fairytale, real love. Love which means accepting people with all their flaws, quirks..everything. It also mentions travel, which is a theme on the Scarlet's Walk album. A very weird video featuring actor Adrian Brody where Tori is a head attached to a leg and Adrian is a head attached to an arm.

#15 Cornflake Girl from the album Under The Pink (1994)
One of Tori Amos best known songs. The inspiration for "Cornflake Girl" came from Alice Walker's novel Possessing the Secret of Joy, about a young African woman going through the ritual of female genital mutilation. Amos was angered by the idea that a mother could subject her daughter to such a brutal act, and the song arose as an exploration of the idea of betrayal between women. In the song two factions of women are referred to: the "raisin girls" are "multicultural" and open-minded, while the "cornflake girls" of the title are "narrowminded and full of prejudice"

#14 Bliss from the album To Venus and Back (1999)
It's about people wanting to enter your mind, know your every thought. Sometimes you kill your own thoughts so others won't have access. It's basically about taking control of your own life and having it be your own.

#13 Crucify from the album Little Earthquakes (1991)
A reminder that we are not perfect and we shouldn't continue to crucify ourselves every day. There are also religious undertones, which is a theme in a lot of Tori Amos' songs such as the line "Just what god needs...one more victim" This song is also about religious guilt especially in the lines about dirty sheets, how religions shames us and makes us feel guilty for things like sex, etc..

#12 Strange from the album Scarlet's Walk (2002)
Many of the songs on Scarlet's Walk was written after 9/11. It's a bit of a political record about the US after that event. The album is about a journey all across the US. There are references to Native Americans, history, a girl going to New York, etc... This song in particular is one of my favorites. It has a very sad sound to it, the radio version gave it a bit of a country sound. Nevertheless, so soothing. This seems to be about a relationship gone wrong.

#11 God from the album Under The Pink (1994)
An excellent song about how can god create such beautiful things like daisies yet also cause death and disease. It's Tori questioning religion again. It's also about how religion is so male-dominated (for example, how some women cannot speak in church and god is always reffered to as "he") This is one of my personal favorites. In the video for the song, it shows a lot of religiously-themed situations. Tori is also famously seen dancing with rats and snakes.

#10 Spring Haze from the album To Venus and Back (1999)
A strangely optimistic song. This album seems to be about Tori coming to terms with her past and a sense of relief. It's about moving forward after years of unhappiness. There's also references to JFK Jr.s death yet this song sounds so hopeful

#09 Spark from the album From The Choirgirl Hotel (1998)
From the Choirgirl Hotel was a very different album for Tori Amos. It's the first where she uses a full rock band as backup and there are hints of electronica also. This song specifically mentions Tori's miscarriage. It's a very dark song and it seems like Tori is mad at god as well for letting such a thing happen. Here is what Tori herself had to say about it. "Y'know, once you've felt life in your body, you can't go back to having been a woman that's never carried life. The other thing is feeling something dying inside you and you're still alive. Obviously when it was happening, it was already over, but in my mind, you don't know that it's over yet. You're doing anything, thinking, 'Oh God, maybe if I put a cork up myself, maybe it'll keep this little life in.' That's why in 'Spark', I say, 'She's convinced she could hold back a glacier/But she couldn't keep baby alive.' You just start going insane. There's nothing you can do, so so you surrender and then... start again."

#8 Pretty Good Year from the album Under The Pink (1994)
Growing up, getting older, the passing of time. Greg was a guy who had written to Tori for advice, this is Tori consoling him in song. It's also about shaking the feeling of numbness. The burning CDs line refers to literally burning CDs, not recording blank CDs.

#7 Marys of the Sea from the album The Beekeeper (2005)
About Mary Magdeline, and possibly her relationship with Jesus. mary was a sinner and is afraid of being chased away from town. "Last time I checked he came to light the lamp for everyone" might be about how everyone has an idea of Jesus' message but it's universal

#6 Caught A Lite Sneeze from the album Boys For Pele (1996)
One of Tori Amo's best known songs. The video is extremely psychedelic and colorful. The album Boys for Pele was written after Tori broke up with her boyfriend and it does mentions her relationships with other men. It's a very interesting album in that it heavily focuses on women's role in religion and relationships. This song is rumored to be about Trent Reznor because Tori mentions pretty hate machine, which was the debut album from Nine Inch Nails. Tori says this album is about female's self-discovery in a male dominated world.Voltaire does a pretty neat cover of this song as well.


#5 Father Lucifer from the album Boys For Pele (1996)
There's a funny story about this song. Tori's father thought she wrote it about him but it happened to be about this time she took drugs with a shaman and had visions of the devil. Powerful song, the lyrics are way out there, even for a Tori Amos song. The lyrics seem to be about looking for those hidden places, those places we hide from others. Many Tori songs talk about this, it seems to be a universal theme. There's a really cool part in the song where all the voices all crash together, which I guess is like the voices guiding you, yet it all seems so confusing.

#4 Silent All These Years from the album Little Earthquakes (1991)
This song is about finding your voice in spite of all the relationships you find yourself in. Tori says she was inspired after reading Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid to her niece and the story deals with the character losing her voice and essence for something else. The single was released to cause awareness of the RAINN foundation.

#3 Blood Roses from the album Boys For Pele (1996)
The angriest song Tori has ever done. This opens up Boys for Pele and what an opening! I think the song is about use and abuse. It's how you feel after being wronged. “God knows, I know I’ve thrown away those graces” I just love those lyrics. This song is solely played on a harpsichord, there's no other instruments but it totally rocks! One of the most requested songs from Tori Amos. Intense performance.

#2 Precious Things from the album Little Earthquakes (1991)
This list is pretty Little Earthquakes heavy. I couldn't make a Tori Amos list without including this song. It starts slow yet builds in intense anger. It's about letting go of bad things. It also seems to be about insecurities and a girl who feels ugly, so she does sexual things to compensate. She feels insecure next to those "beautiful girls" and "christian boys". When she talks about "precious things, let them bleed, let them wash away" it could be referencing virginity. It also talks about moving forward and forgetting the bad things.

#1 Winter from the album Little Earthquakes (1991)
This song is about Tori and her relationship with her father. It's about a father wanting to take care of his daughter, and about her growing up into her own person and learning to love herself. He tells her to stand up for herself because he won't always be around. Powerful song and I love the music on this one.


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