(Way back) when I was in high school one of my favorite albums was Tori Amos’s Little Earthquakes. I wore out multiple copies of the cassette and CD and the entire album is still on my Ipod. I have attempted a handful of times to get other people to see what I do in the lyrics, but most just shrug. I’m over it. This album may not have rocked but it DID kick ass. Today I bought myself the 2015 Deluxe Edition because hell, I deserve it. I listen to these songs almost as much now as I did 25 years ago when it first came out. Surprisingly, for many of the same reasons. Although at that time I was listening to everything from Sex Pistols to REM to Danzig and Pearl Jam, this album was and remains an anthem to my teenage struggles and now my adult bindings in a way angsty Punk, Grunge, and what would eventually be known as Emo couldn’t. It was Tori Amos that opened me up to the Indie music I love now.
She had a few other albums that were on point as well, but Little Earthquakes was unparalleled for me. There is not a track on the original album that didn’t speak to me, not a single lyric that I couldn’t hold a mirror to. And while some of the triggers may have changed, they still hold context for me today.
The anger of not being good enough in “Precious Things”
He said “you’re really an ugly girl
But I like the way you play”
And I died
But I thanked him.
Tear in your Hand. One of the most poetic breakup songs ever. When the reason you get for being dumped isn’t the reason at all.. Yet we’ve given them all that damn power.
I don’t believe you’re leaving
‘Cause me and Charles Manson
Like the same ice cream
I think it’s that girl
And I think there are pieces of me
You’ve never seen
Maybe she’s just pieces of me
You’ve never seen, well
Silent All These Years speaks of my childhood traumas that no one cares to know about or deal with because nobody likes damaged things or wants to hear how you got that way.
…And it has a bridge that I used to scream…
Years go by, will I still be waiting
For somebody else to understand?
Years go by if I’m stripped of my beauty
And the orange clouds raining in my head
Years go by, will I choke on my tears
Till finally there is nothing left?
One more casualty, you know
We’re too easy, easy, easy
The extremely personal and powerful a cappella Me and a Gun. I wasn’t the only girl to hear this the first time and be shocked that someone managed to put this experience to words. It’s raw and honest and needs no interpretation. And to this day when my back is against the wall I still whisper…
“I haven’t seen Barbados so I must get out of this.”
Leather, Mother, Girl, China, Winter….all beautifully worded and expressive and still touch me deeply today.
and then there’s Little Earthquakes,
Doesn’t take much to rip us into pieces
And of course Crucify, which I’m tempted to quote the entire song here because every single word has a significance to me still, but I’ll just give you the first verse.
Every finger in the room
Is pointing at me
I wanna spit in their faces
Then I get afraid of what that could bring
I got a bowling ball in my stomach
I got a desert in my mouth
Figures that my courage would choose to sell out now
I realized today while I was clicking Prime shipping for my tunes that pain doesn’t feel any better at 40 than it does at 16, traumatic events still feel traumatic, Heartbreak still crushes you and finding your voice when others are silencing you is still a struggle. You’ll still wonder why you weren’t good enough to love. You will continue suffer for those you hold dear. You get more resilient, better at coping and clawing your way out, but the emotions are the same, and the music that moved you 25 years ago, can undeniably still move you today.