‘So you found a girl who thinks really deep thoughts.
What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts?
Boy, you best pray that I bleed real soon.
How’s that thought for you?’
American Alt-Rock Goddess Supreme Tori Amos may arguably be considered one of the pioneers and key figures responsible for the uprising of the female singer-songwriter phenomenon that began in the early 90’s.
Along with Canadian songstress Sarah McLachlan (who would later create the hugely successful Lilith Fair Tour – celebrating the music of successful singer-songwriters ranging from everybody including Erykah Badu to Bonnie Raitt), Tori Amos had essentially kicked off a movement that literally opened doors for artists like Jewel, Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette to chart their own paths and create history in the process.
Tori’s 1992 solo début ‘Little Earthquakes‘ easily remains one of the most important albums to be released in the history of contemporary music. Of course when the very first song by an artist is a dark, spine-chilling a cappella description of what goes inside a rape victim’s mind (based on her personal experience a few years earlier) – the world sits up and takes notice.
‘It was me and a gun and a man on my back
And I sang “holy holy” as he buttoned down his pants
You can laugh, its kind of funny, things you think at times like these.
Like I haven’t seen Barbados so I must get out of this.
Yes I wore a slinky red thing
Does that mean I should spread for you, your friends
Your father, Mr Ed.’
These words were enough to propel ‘Little Earthquakes‘ to # 54 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, while the follow-up singles slow-burned the album to a double platinum certification in the US, for over 2 million units sold.
What followed was an enviable discography spread out over a period of 22 years, including 7 top 10 albums on the Billboard Charts, a UK # 1 album and single, 7 multi-platinum, platinum or gold records, multiple top 10 albums in Europe, Australia and Asia, 8 Grammy nominations and a global fan-following that cut across all barriers.
One of my fave songs off all time by Tori Amos would be the poignant ‘Silent All These Years‘ – the second single to be released from ‘Little Earthquakes‘. There’s really no easy way to describe the stellar productions and lyrics of the song – it deals with the struggle to find one’s own voice.
The simple and subtle piano riff is a marked juxtaposition to Tori’s heavy lyrics – her quivering vocals strain to assert her thoughts as she helplessly cries ‘Years go by will I still be waiting for somebody else to understand / Years go by will I choke on my tears, until finally there is nothing left?‘. The quiet rage is almost palpable as the song lavishly soars towards the end.
It’s like a tinkling nursery rhyme that slaps you straight across the face – much like ‘Me And A Gun‘.
The best part about Tori’s music? It’s really easy to interpret her songs as your own personal struggles. It’s like she creates a template – the listener just completes his or her story through Tori’s music.
The music video for ‘Silent All These Years‘, directed by Cindy Palmano, quickly became a staple on MTV- receiving heavy rotation in 1992 – and eventually ending up with 3 nominations at the 1992 MTV VMA’s, including Best Female Video, Best Cinematography and Breakthrough Video.
Even today, ‘Little Earthquakes‘ gives me some major chills every time I give the album a listen.
Amos once famously said – “I’m an acquired taste. I’m anchovies. If I was potato chips I could go more places,”. After over 2 decades of consistently slaying the charts and releasing music that captivates and bares the soul, I believe Tori Amos has easily surpassed most of the female singer-songwriters who have made a mark in our generation, let alone go places.
Y’all need to pick up ‘Little Earthquakes‘ if you haven’t already, and give it a thorough listen. Follow that up with 2 of my fave Tori albums ever, 1994’s ‘Under The Pink‘ (her only # 1 album in the UK) and 2005’s ‘The Beekeeper‘ (the title track of this one gives me goosebumps).
Check out the gripping ‘Silent All These Years‘ right here :