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Playboy Mommy

21 Jan

A conversation Slcurwin and I had over in the comments section of her last post got me thinking a bit about Tori Amos. For some reason, I always end up going back to her during difficult times and lately I’ve found myself embracing her again.

I know that some of the people who read this blog don’t know who the heck I’m talking about – in short, she’s a singer songwriter.

The long version is that before oprah, before exposes, before a lot of things, Tori spoke openly about being raped.

Her second album – “Little Earthquakes” (which most count as her first because her “actual” first album is sort of a glam-rock mess that really didn’t go anywhere) speaks openly about her experience and takes the listener through her journey of healing. First, talking about her own self hatred in “Crucify”, then on to her silence in “Silent All These Years”, and ending with her story “Me and a Gun”, and the beginnings of her healing in the song “Little Earthquakes”.

She has been a loud and proud anti-rape advocate for as long as she’s been in the public eye, and for most of the time I’ve loved her, that’s where I connected with her the most.

Tori is kind of a strange artist to take in. Her lyrics are kind of cryptic, and sometimes harsh. She sings with sometimes hard to listen to pain and rage in her voice.

She’s released quite a few albums, but I’ll admit that I stopped buying her new stuff at one point because I no longer related to those particular journeys.

You see – that’s the thing with Tori – every single album is a different story. Sometimes there’s debate about what story the album tells, but sometimes it’s pretty clear.

Little Earthquakes – Rape

Under the Pink – Reclaiming her femininity

Boys for Pele – Heartbreak

From the Choirgirl Hotel – well – I’ll get to that in a second

To Venus and Back – there are several theories – mine is drugs.

Scarlet’s Walk – Motherhood, happiness, marriage, etc.

I “lost” her somewhere around “Scarlet’s Walk” because her journey was no longer mine.

Well – actually, her journey was no longer mine quite a bit earlier, but that was the point where I no longer felt her words pierce me through the heart with their usual fierceness.

Which brings me back to “Choirgirl”.

It was released in 1998. It is the “Miscarriage Album”.

After the two that I had, whenever I put my ipod on shuffle, and something from that album popped up, I immediately skipped it. I didn’t even think about it. It was a reflex. It was “I can’t deal with this right now”

Which when you come to think of it is a bit dumb of me. Her journeys have impacted me in such a positive way in the past.

But I wasn’t equipped to handle facing things in the way that Tori makes me face them.

I mean, how can you really handle an album, where the first song  has the lyrics

She’s convinced she can hold back a glacier

But she couldn’t keep baby alive

Doubting if there’s a woman in there somewhere

Here Here Here

(from “Spark”)

But the lovely SLC got me thinking today about the power of music. I’ve been slowly allowing myself to listen to more and more of the album. And today, I dug up this snippet of an interview (which apparently refuses to embed – so just click over there for a sec – it’s very short).

As usual, this amazing woman speaks powerfully and eloquently about a topic everyone else refuses to address.

As usual, she is a voice for millions of silent women.

I know that some of you won’t like her music. I know that for some it may well be too painful. But for me, I’ve always found that hearing her express my pain through her words has always helped me expel the poisonous venom of my own internal chaos.

Some of you know that during my senior year, I spent the entire year painting and blasting Tori at full volume. This was after a summer in which I had my first bout of depression and anxiety, and also confronted my rape for the first time – four years after it had happened. when the year was over, just before my 18th birthday, I got a faerie tattooed on my back. I named her Tori. It was my little reminder that I always have a way back.

As you know from my previous post today, I’m getting another little reminder on March 1st. But today, the first reminder popped in and said hi, and asked that I share a bit of her with you guys.

I’m embedding two songs here. The first is “Spark” which I quoted above. The second is “Playboy Mommy”.

I am warning you  – you may find them hard to listen to. I’ll put the lyrics under each of them. But look back up at that album list. Scarlet’s Walk is about motherhood. Eventually, Tori made it out of the muck and became a mother. And she shares her journey with the world precisely for women like us.

I lost her somewhere around there a few years ago. Now I hope to catch up to her sometime soon.

Much love to you guys.

Spark

She’s addicted to nicotine patches
She’s addicted to nicotine patches
She’s afraid of the light in the dark
6:58 are you sure where my spark is
here here here

she’s convinced she could hold back a glacier
but she couldn’t keep baby alive
doubting if there’s a woman in there somewhere
here here here

you say you don’t want it again and again
but you don’t, don’t really mean it
you say you don’t want it this circus were in
but you don’t, don’t really mean it
you don’t don’t really mean it

if the divine master plan is perfection
maybe next I’ll give Judas a try
trusting my soul to the icecream assasin
here here here

you say you don’t want it again and again
but you don’t, don’t really mean it
you say you don’t want it this circus were in
but you don’t, don’t really mean it,
you don’t don’t really mean it

how many fates turn around in the overtime
ballerina’s that have fins that you’ll never find
you thought that you were the bomb yes well so did I
say you don’t want it, say you don’t want it

how mant fates turn around in the overtime
ballerina’s that have fins that you’ll never find
you thought that you were the bomb yes well so did I
say you don’t want it, say you don’t want it,
say you don’t want it again and again
but you don’t, don’t really mean it
you say you don’t want it this circus were in,
but you don’t, don’t really mean it
don’t really mean it

she’s addicted to nicotine patches
she’s afraid of the light in the dark
6:58 are you sure where my spark is
here here here

Playboy Mommy
In my platforms I hit the floor
Fell face down
Didn’t help my brain out
Then the baby came
Before I found
The magic how to keep her happy
I never was the fantasy
Of what you want, wanted me to be 

But don’t judge me so harsh, little girl
So you’ve got a playboy mommy
But when you tell ’em my name
You wanna cross that bridge all on your own
Little girl, they’ll do you no harm
‘Cause they know your playboy mommy
But when you tell ’em my name
From here to Birmingham
I got a few friends

I never was, was there when it counts
I get my way
You’re so like me
You seemed ashamed
Ashamed that I was
A good friend of American soldiers
I’ll say it loud, here by your grave
Those angels can’t ever take my place

Don’t judge me so harsh, little girl
You got a playboy mommy
But when you tell them my name, and
You wanna cross that bridge all on your own
Little girl, they’ll do you no harm
Because they know your playboy mommy
But you just tell ’em my name
You tell ’em my name
I got a few friends

Somewhere, where the orchids grow
I can’t find those church bells
That played when you died
Played Gloria
Talkin’ ’bout Hosanna

Don’t judge me so harsh, little girl
You got a playboy mommy, come home
But when you tell them soldiers my name
You cross that bridge all on your own
Little girl, they’ll do you no harm
‘Cause they know your playboy mommy

But I’ll be home, I’ll be home
To take you
In my arms

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8 Responses to “Playboy Mommy”

  1. slcurwin January 21, 2011 at 05:58 #

    You’ve had to deal with way more than counts for awful. I’m so sorry you’ve been betrayed that way. I can’t say anything to make it better but you know we’re here if you need us.

  2. runnyyolk January 21, 2011 at 15:30 #

    I’ve always been a big Tori fan, but I didn’t know that album was about miscarriage. I’m going to have to go back and take a look.

  3. bodegabliss January 21, 2011 at 20:55 #

    After chatting about this in the comments of slcurwin’s blog, I looked up the lyrics to “Spark” and when I read “she’s convinced she could hold back a glacier/but she couldn’t keep baby alive/doubting if there’s a woman in there somewhere,” I lost it. How perfectly and beautifully said. I also watched the interview above and both the hubby and I were blown away about how poetic she is, even when she speaks. I guess when I was in high school, I never took the time to find out what her lyrics were really about, I was too busy internalizing them and making them mine.

    (Also, I’m so sorry you’re going through this.)

    • mommyodyssey January 22, 2011 at 13:37 #

      One of my best friends in the last 15 years used to be a tori super-fan, so I was exposed to in-depth commentary by the time I was 17. thing is – I’m only now really starting to appreciate it. 🙂

      • me0me January 25, 2011 at 20:47 #

        🙂

        • mommyodyssey January 26, 2011 at 02:29 #

          Just so you all know – that smiley face is courtesy of the very same friend. Methinks someone is feeling very smug right now – no? 🙂

  4. Betsy January 22, 2011 at 08:22 #

    Hi, I’m stopping in from ICLW and haven’t had a chance to check out your whole blog yet, but wanted to comment. Tori got me through my third miscarriage. I would sit in the tub and play “Spark” and “1000 Oceans” (my personal fav) on repeat. Those are still two songs I could listen to over and over again.
    I have a feeling I’m really going to like your blog. Love the Simpsons header.

    • mommyodyssey January 22, 2011 at 13:35 #

      Hi Betsy – thanks and welcome!
      I’m still amazed that it took me so long to realize that I need to listen to choirgirl to get me through – Tori has a magical way of externalizing the things we try to keep tucked away, and I love her for it.

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