Welcome to England
Welcome to England
My husband used to think that the hymn said, “No hell! No hell! No hell!”
A nice fanvideo set to my favorite Tori Amos Christmas song. I have no idea what the movie is, though. Anyone know?
My favorite version of this song ever. Shocking, I know.
What we need is solar power.
In my last Sister Songs post, I talked about two songs that I feel like are the same character at different points in their life. (I actually think Curtain Call is also that character.) But this time, I feel like these are two alternate takes on the same event, like the same character taking the same journey, covering the same exact days, but in one take they are “a sorta fairytale” kind of days and in the other they have a more positive spin.
A Sorta Fairytale
Sometimes I feel like Tori Amos writes songs that are sisters to each other, or possibly they are the same song character showing up at different places and times, aged, changed, morphed. For example, Lady In Blue and 16 Shades of Blue. I’m pretty sure 16 Shades of Blue happened first in the timeline of this character’s life, despite being recorded later, and that Lady In Blue is the same character a few months or years down the line.
16 Shades of Blue
Lady In Blue
I’ve been a fan of Tori Amos since I was seventeen years old and something that never fails to amaze me is how often her music seems to tap directly into a particular vein of my life in incredibly unexpected ways.
For example, the song “Selkie” from the latest album. Well, my daughter has long been obsessed with the story “The Selkie Bride” as told on the Tell Me A Story audiobook compilation. She listened to that story almost every night for over a year and while she’s moved on at this point, it remains one of her all-time favorite stories that she returns to for comfort.
When this album came out and the song “Selkie” was on it both she and I felt like once again Tori had tapped into the most important veins of love, comfort, joy, inspiration, and wonder in our lives.
Tori Amos’s catalog, for me, has always been about how safe I feel listening to it. Her albums function equally well as works of art and as practical field guides, sending GPS data every few years from new coordinates in the thicket of self-actualization that she and her listeners have been navigating together for two decades. Tori is our flame-haired, first-name-basis, mezzo-soprano GUIDANCE counselor. “When you gonna love you as much as I do?” she asked as a 28-year-old, ten minutes into her first album. She arrived beckoning toward self-discovery and love. Little Earthquakes was a debut, but there is nothing half-baked or under-developed about it. She sailed to shore on a seashell, fully-formed, and offered a vision of identity that demanded acceptance. Her music was strange, her voice was strange, and her message was clear: “There is room for what I’m doing in the world, even if I’m the only one doing it.” We heard that, we pupils, and took it to mean that there’s room for what we’re all doing in the world. Her unflinching career has paved the way for innumerous other unflinching, glorious marchers to their own beat. —Katie Presley
It has been a dream of mine forever to share my love of Tori with a daughter, and I am lucky enough to say that my little girl loves Tori. We spend time listening to her albums together, talking over lyrics, and just being unusually quiet together appreciating the sounds.
This August my daughter is going to her first Tori Amos concert with me, so we’ve been listening to back catalog stuff so that she’ll be familiar with what might be peformed and not just the newer stuff. The other day in the car we were listening to “Crucify” after a discussion of what it is about (how hard we are on ourselves–something my daughter can relate too all too well, unfortunately) and I looked into the rearview and saw that she was crying. I asked, “Why are you crying, honey?” She said, “I don’t know. The music. The song.”
That’s why Tori Amos connects. My life is enriched by her always and ever.
For the record, my daughter’s favorite song on the new album so far is “Selkie” because it is a retelling of one of my daughter’s all-time favorite fairy tales–The Selkie Bride.
More quotes from the NPR piece:
Tori Amos still loves you. She isn’t fucking around. —T. Cole Rachel
More than 20 years after Little Earthquakes, Amos’s guidance has been disseminated and focused. It’s still Tori singing strength to Tori, and Tori singing strength to the women whose stories she’s telling, and to the wider listening public, but there is another, more specific life she is now shepherding: Her daughter’s. Strange Little Girls was for Natashya, about re-imagining the rock canon so that a girl might grow up and feel a part of it. Night of Hunters featured Tash as the supporting character Annabelle in several songs. And Unrepentant Geraldinesshowcases her as a musical peer; as fully half of the conversation, from her own point of view. Good guidance, particularly of the MATERNAL variety, is subtle enough that it’s not immediately apparent when one has graduated to guiding oneself, and Natashya’s development from inspiration to concept to self-fulfilling musician is the precedent and promise of Tori’s earlier albums made manifest. Every Tori Amos record is about breaking free of the stories we’re told and telling our own, but Unrepentant Geraldines is the first with physical proof of the journey. —Katie Presley
[spotify id=”spotify:track:3ZZS2pYJmjkjyw8VDPowcU” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]
This duet between Tori Amos and her daughter Tash Hawley makes my mother’s heart clench and my eyes get all wet. It might be cheesy, but I dunna care. I love it like so much whoa.
So, Tori Amos has a new album coming out, and at the writing of this post, I have as yet to hear it. I’ve heard from various sources that it’s a good one and seen many comments that Tori Amos is “back”, like maybe she was gone for awhile. I guess that confuses me. Sure, she’s put out albums that I didn’t love every song or feel like it was an album that I needed to listen to over and over and over again, but every album she’s ever released has at least one song that speaks to me and I feel like it makes my life better by having it exist in the world.
For example, my least favorite album as a whole is Abnormally Attracted to Sin, but I love the following songs from it:
1) Fast Horse
2) That Guy
3) Maybe California
4) Welcome to England
And while for some reason Lady In Blue doesn’t move me on the album, when I saw it performed live, it was utterly mesmerizing. There are others from that album that I also enjoy, but it is also my least listened to album of hers.
I guess what I’m trying to say, though, is that every album doesn’t have to be perfect for it to deserve to exist. I guess I just get sad and defensive, what with being a fan and all, at seeing so people being down on her, and even sort of tainting what looks to be a great new album with implications that her brilliance has been missing in action for some time now. Aside from the compilation records of hers, which never work for me, she’s never put out an album that I didn’t find something amazing about. I’m sure this album will be no different in that regard.
1. Come On Home to Me by Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl
One of my favorite songs. Wrote a story about this song once.
2. Car Radio by Spoon
3. Another Mystery – Dar Williams
Preach, Dar. Preach. I’ll c/p something I posted to Facebook the other day about this song.
Man, this song speaks to me more and more as I get older. I was thinking about it in the car this morning because I’d read some Tumblr posts from girls who say they want to be like Laura Palmer (the mysterious, beautiful, girl who is loved/wanted by everyone) and another post about how Laura Palmer was a Mary Sue (which, uh, was the entire point of her! She was impossible! Lynch was clearly critiquing society’s expectations of women with Laura! She couldn’t have existed in reality and her monstrosities were due to her Mary Sue-ness — all things to all people, sex machine, goddess, whore, virgin, daddy’s girl, best friend, volunteer, star student, cheerleader, etc, etc). And the posts about wanting to be like her just gave me the shivers. I was like, “Oh, God, no. I don’t want to be a mystery. Preach Dar.”
4. Who Is Like This One? – Hello Saferide
Damn, I love this song. I titled a story after a lyric from it once.
“But you are the only one I’ve met who’s ‘God Only Knows’
I liked you the first time I met you
and it grows and grows and grows”
5. Witness by Tori Amos
I am a weirdo because I like this one and a lot of folks don’t. *shrug*
As I mentioned in a previous post, I always write to music. The following songs definitely influenced or inspired aspects of Training Season. This first song? Absolutely inspired the meet-cute in the book.
For some reason, “Decimate” by David Ford has always been Rob’s song in my mind. I’m not sure why, but I think this represents how he feels about Matty. I’d listen to this one when I was trying to figure him out. If anyone can figure out what makes this a Rob song, let me know. 😉
What things does Leta love?
Tori Amos? CHECK
The Light Princess? CHECK. (In fact, I love it so much that Keira and I based our first m/m fairy tale, Earthly Desires, on the story. One prince floats, the other is bound to the earth.)
Angsty Love? CHECK
My beloved people, clearly I am meant to travel to London to see this at the National Theater! Clearly. Now, someone just convince my bank account of that!
Once, in opposing kingdoms lived a princess and a prince who had lost their mothers. Althea, unable to cry, became light with grief and floated, and so was locked away. Digby became so heavy-hearted that he could never smile, and so was trained as a warrior.
One day, he declares war. Althea is forced out of hiding and down to ground but, in defiance of her father, she escapes, only to encounter the solemn prince on contested land. Beside a lake the warring heirs begin a passionate and illicit affair. But for Althea to find real love, she must first confront the world’s darkness and face her own deepest fears.
I am truly, ridiculously excited by this! I cannot wait to see it! It’s starring the gorgeous Rosalie Craig! And Clive Rowe! I hear good things about them!
Just found a video of Rosalie singing old skool Tori. Interesting. It gets pretty dang good midway through. Hmmm.
I’ve seen plenty of Tori Amos concerts. Unfortunately, I’ve lost count, but the number is somewhere in the 20s at this point. But it is not enough!! I read about Ears With Feet (Tori fans) who have been to 100 concerts, or who have saved up a bunch of money, taken a leave of absence from work, and followed her around the world, and instead of having the reaction of a normal human, I think, “Oh, wow, I want to do that. A year of seventy Tori concerts? Are you kidding me? Yesssssss. All the yeses ever to yes!”
The issue? Money, job, responsibilities. If I ever get to do this, I’m sure it will be after my daughter is grown. Maybe she’d even want to come with me. If not, though, I’m pretty sure I could convince my BFF will come along for the ride.
If I were to rate the likelihood of any particular one of these, I’d have to admit this one is pretty low in terms of chances. It’s the sort of thing a person can maybe pull off in their early twenties, but as life creeps in, it becomes more and more difficult to make time for something like this. Perhaps it would make more sense if people understood that Tori Amos concerts are my church. There is literally no other time that I feel so completely connected to the universal, so in touch with my heart and spirit and soul, so uplifted and moved. There’s nothing that even touches it.
Before I die, I’d like to follow my church around the world, experiencing the service in far away lands.
Sometime before I die, I want to attend a Tori Amos concert with my daughter. It’s been a dream of mine since before I ever had her, and when it became clear that she loves Tori Amos, too, my dream only intensified. One day, we will sit in the audience together. Maybe we’ll hold hands. Maybe she’ll ignore that her mommy cries half of the show. Or maybe she’ll cry too.
A question I get a lot is “Why m/m? Why do you write so many books with gay main characters?” I’ve got a lot of reasons behind that, some of them incredibly deep and involved, based in feminism and gay rights and freeing the mind. But let’s leave all that behind for now, and focus on how things change meaning when you change the sex/gender of any particular person within a certain expected dynamic.
I feel like the easiest way to illustrate this is with music, so let’s start there.
Everyone knows Adele’s song “Someone Like You”. What happens to the meaning and to your understanding of the song when a man sings it without changing any lyrics.
Jay Brannan also did a cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games”. When he performed it live, he said, “My favorite thing about this song is knowing that by singing it I make you all picture me in a sundress.” I practically jumped up and down when he said that because it told me that he gets it and isn’t just covering it because he likes it, but that he sees a wider implication in his choices.
Another example might be Tori Amos covering “I’m Not In Love”. As she said in an interview, people grew up in the 1970s and 80s slow-danced to this song, not really listening to the lyrics. She covered it to point out how the meaning of it changes when it’s sung by a woman. What opinions do we have about a woman who sings, “I’m not in love, so don’t forget it. It’s just a silly phase I’m going through, and just because I call you up, don’t get me wrong, don’t think you’ve got it made. I’m not in love, no no, it’s because…I like to see you, but then again, that doesn’t mean you mean that much to me.” How do we feel about her compared to how we might feel about a man singing the same thing.
And then there is the more obvious commentary of “Real Men”.
For me, aside from just wanting to tell good stories with characters that I like, I enjoy the challenging nature of writing away from expectations and exploring how changing the sex, gender, sexuality of characters changes the consequences of certain behaviors within relationships. As I said, this is only the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a nice fat tip. Enjoy it. (Heh. See what I did there? LOL!)