Viewing posts tagged boys in their dresses

A Man On My Back (Me and a Gun)

CW: Rape

 

Me and a Gun (1992)

Me and a Gun (live, 1992)

Me and a Gun (TV performance, 1992)

Me and a Gun (live, 1996)

Me and a Gun (live, 1997)

Me and a Gun (official bootleg, 2007, Pip set) 

Ibid, video version

It is one of the most harrowing things in the history of pop music. The bulk of adjectives for it seem to fall short, fatally undermined by the fact that they’ve already been used for so many lesser songs. Brave? Raw? Powerful? Obviously. But all of these are understatements. Ultimately, the vocabulary of pop music begins to falter here. “Me and a Gun” exists in a different space than anything else. Alex Reed, writing about industrial music in Assimilate, notes that nose forms an extreme limit that you cannot progress past: there is simply a boundary past which you cannot create more or harsher noise. In its own way, “Me and a Gun” does the same thing. Its aesthetic project is closed definitively after four minutes; nothing else like this can ever be done except as a pale and frankly offensive imitation.

In January of 1985, a few months after moving to Los Angeles ...

Fair Boy Your Eyes (Song For Eric)

Song for Eric (demo, 1990)

Song for Eric (live, 1991)

Song for Eric (1992)

Song for Eric (live, 1994)

Song for Eric (live, 1996)

The b-sides for Little Earthquakes are a mixture of fine songs that it’s difficult to see how missed the album, or that if it is clear, it comes down purely to tonal fit instead of quality—“Upside Down” and “Take to the Sky”—and the usual mix of songs that fall just short of the album tracks that did make it—“Mary” and “Sweet Dreams.” And then there is “Song for Eric,” the only song among the Little Earthquakes sessions to simply be bad. An a capella love song framed entirely in fantasy romance pablum about a “fair maiden” who will “wait all day for my sailor” that unironically includes the phrases “over hill and dale” and “you know me like the nightingale,” it is at best a cut rate version of “Etienne,” and at worst a rehash of the character-based love songs she wrote as a teenager. (It’s worth comparing specifically to “Rubies and Gold,” which is essentially the same song only with a baroquely complex musical arrangement instead of an a capella ...

The Dream King (Tear in Your Hand)

Tear in Your Hand (1992)
Tear in Your Hand (live, 1992)
Tear in Your Hand (live, 1998)
Tear in Your Hand (TV performance, 2002)
Tear in Your Hand (official bootleg, 2005)
Tear in Your Hand (official bootleg, 2007, Tori set)
Tear in Your Hand (live, 2014)

 

Preludes and Nocturnes

We all know where this is going, but let’s start with the actual song: a comparatively uptempo breakup song. The temptation to make another Y Kant Tori Read comparison is obvious from the description, which makes the song all the more surprising given how radically far from that it actually ends up. There are obvious reasons for this. For one, “Tear In Your Hand” is, like most of Little Earthquakes, built around Amos’s piano, which offers a jaunty descending riff doubled by Amos’s initial “yai la la lai lai lai lai” vocal line. This is not a song of swaggeringly wounded pride or of pained yearning, but something altogether more trickster-like. Amos is teasing in her vocal, maintaining a sense of humor throughout, as with “I don’t believe you’re leaving cause / me and Charles Manson like the same ice cream / I think it’s that girl.” Amos is clearly hurt ...

Kings Never Afraid to Burn (Little Earthquakes)

Little Earthquakes (1992)

Little Earthquakes (live, 1992)

Little Earthquakes (live, 1997)

Little Earthquakes (live, 1998)

Little Earthquakes (live, 2003)

Little Earthquakes (live, 2007, official bootleg, Clyde set)

Little Earthquakes (live, 2014)

There are two approaches to choosing a title track for an album. One is to pick something that seems a thesis statement for the album, capturing its major musical and lyrical themes while not risking confusion by wanting to be a single. The other is  to pick something with a cool title. It is this latter approach that explains why an album dominated by fairly simply arranged piano ballads featuring confessional lyrics flecked with spots of idiosyncrasy is named after an austerely ominous song whose lyrics are basically wall to wall crypticness. 

Much of Little Earthquakes feels as though it appeared sui generis from nowhere save for the interior of Tori mos’s head. There are a few exceptions—the ruins and traces of Y Kant Tori Read and of the 80s at large lurk throughout the album. But for the most part, Amos feels profoundly singular. On top of that, Amos is historically extremely reticent to talk about her musical influences—one is left to infer them from what ...

The Pain of the Respect Thereof (Girl)

The traditional Eruditorum Press post-holiday ebook sale is running from now until January 2ndDetails are here.

Girl (1992)

Thoughts (1992)

Girl (live, 1992)

Girl (live, 1996)

Girl (live, 1998)

Girl (live, 2009)

Girl (live, 2017)

In many ways the slightest song on Little Earthquakes, “Girl” is hamstrung most obviously by its positioning as the second track on the album. Coming off of “Crucify,” it is doomed to be the markedly inferior of the two post-80s empower ballads. Coming immediately before the jaw-dropping triple threat of “Silent All These Years,” “Precious Things,” and “Winter,” it is subsequently doomed to be forgotten by “that doesn’t make you Jesus” at the absolute latest. That it made the album over “Upside Down,” ”Take to the Sky,” or even “Flying Dutchman” is in hindsight one of the more baffling decisions made about Little Earthquakes.

It’s not fair to say that “Girl” is a bad song. Indeed, individual moments are as fine as anything on the album—the haunting, arrhythmic male vocal over “sit in the chair and be good now,” or the mad spaghetti of sounds that make up the bridge. Really, the overall soundscape of the ...

Let Them Bleed Now (Precious Things)

Precious Things (live, 1991)

Precious Things (1992)

Precious Things (TV performance, 1994)

Precious Things (live, 1996)

Precious Things (live, 1997)

Precious Things (TV performance, 1998)

Precious Things (live, 1998)

Precious Things (live at Glastonbury, 1998)

Precious Things (TV performance, 1999)

Precious Things (live, 2003)

Precious Things (TV performance, 2003)

Precious Things (official bootleg, 2007, Tori set)

Precious Things (live, 2011)

Precious Things (2012)

Precious Things (live, 2014)

In September of 1990, Amos submitted an initial version of the album that would eventually be called Little Earthquakes. The track list was in several regards perverse, even given that Amos only had the Siegerson sessions to go on—most puzzlingly, “Mary,” and “Sweet Dreams,” both made it on while “Silent All These Years” and “Upside Down” both missed out. Atlantic rejected this version of the album, however, and so Amos went back to work.

With next to no budget left for improving the album, Amos found herself working at a home studio with her then-boyfriend Eric Rosse. They brought in a handful of session musicians including Steve Caton, Amos’s guitarist from Y Kant Tori Read, and Amos set out to write a new batch of songs. The songs from these sessions ...

The Sea is the Sky (Flying Dutchman)

Flying Dutchman (1992)

Flying Dutchman (live, 2001)

Flying Dutchman (2012)

Flying Dutchman (live, 2017)

Some time early in Amos’s time in LA, while she was still playing the airport Holiday Inn to pay her rent, a friend of hers helped her move, and asked her kinda sorta boyfriend Rantz Hoseley to help. Hoseley was attending art school in the city, and the two hit it off immediately (Hoseley cameos in the video for “The Big Picture”). A few years later, in the wake of Y Kant Tori Read, Amos called her friend to chat. Hoseley, an artist who wanted to make it in the comics industry, had recently left Los Angeles after a number of setbacks that included being told by Marvel editor Tom DeFalco that he should give up and become a plumber and what he describes s “some very scary near-fatal experiences,” and was living with his parents in Washington, but the two remained close. Amos was starting to bounce back from her own setback and in the early stages of Little Earthquakes, and asked her friend how he’d describe himself. Hoseley’s response, delivered from the depths of his depressive spiral, was to say, “Tori, I’m the ...

A Little Warm in My Heart (Winter)

A fitting entry for a day I'm snowed in with a foot of snow. Anyway, quick update about where we stand on Doctor Who Series 12 reviews, as it's just under a month until it debuts. The answer is that we are very, very far from them—the Patreon is at its start of month lull due to declined pledges, but as it stands we're over $100 from the $800 tier where I'll do Series 12 reviews. If you'd like me to howl into the void about Chibnall Who, you'll want to go to Patreon and fix that. And in the process you'll unlock 26 more Dalek Eruditorum entries.

Winter (live, 1991)

Winter (1992)

Winter (music video, 1992)

Winter (TV performance, 1992)

Winter (live, 1997)

Winter (TV performance, 2003)

Winter (live, 2005, official bootleg)

Winter (live, 2007, official bootleg, Tori set)

Winter (radio performance, 2009)

Winter (2012)

Winter (live, 2017)

Fathers are, of course, a standard of women’s art, whether about an invented relationship (“Papa Don’t Preach”) or an authentic one (“Daddy Lessons’). And traditionally there is a fraught tone to these. The character changes—the father can be treacherous, unreliable, abusive, authoritarian, or any ...

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