Viewing posts tagged little earthquakes b-sides

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 ...

Any Kind of Touch I Think Is Better Than None (Upside Down)

Upside Down (live, 1991) 

Upside Down (1992) 

Upside Down (live in Cincinatti, 1992) 

Upside Down (live, 2007, official bootleg, Clyde set)

Upside Down (web concert, 2010)

Upside Down (radio performance, 2011)

Upside Down/Upside Down (live, 2014)

By some margin the best of the Little Earthquakes b-sides, to the point that Amos in 1994 described its omission from Little Earthquakes as her “only regret.” (She would eventually say something similar about “Honey” missing the cut for Under the Pink and “Cooling” not making it onto Boys for Pele.) And Amos is right—without being so crass as to name names, “Upside Down” is straightforwardly better than at least two songs on Little Earthquakes, and is heads above the next best b-side. This is, presumably, why it found an almost immediate release, coming out as track two of the “Me and a Gun” single in the UK, and showing up on both the “Winter” and “Precious Things” singles in the US—a clear and easily justified decision to make it the primary b-side of the album. 

Much of Little Earthquakes is built in the balance between Amos’s more gnomic tendencies and a confessional approach that relies on a ...

Choke Him to Death Daddy (Sweet Dreams)

Sweet Dreams (demo, 1990) 

Sweet Dreams (1992) 

Sweet Dreams (live, 2001)

Sweet Dreams (2003) 

Sweet Dreams (official bootleg, 2007, Isabel set) 

A political song (973.928—History of North America:Politics of Illusion, according to Tales of a Librarian), but let’s immediately be cautious of treating that as a way of distinguishing it from other songs we’ve talked about, as if “Crucify,” “Leather,” or “Silent All These Years” are not also political. The more accurate assessment is that “Sweet Dreams” is a song that is overtly about electoral politics, with a second verse that makes overt reference to George Bush’s “thousand points of light” speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention. 

For the most part, there is something vaguely unsatisfying about this sort of thing. It’s not that there aren’t good songs about electoral politics in pop music. But it’s a routine quagmire in which artists turn out badly over-earnest and strident songs about how bad the President is. The problem is not that Amos is wrong that George Bush is “a constipated man” whose friends “got the earth in a sling / the world on her knees / they even got [his] zipper between their ...

Butterflies Don't Belong in Nets (Mary)

Mary (1992)

Mary (1992, live)

Mary (2003)

Mary (2003, web concert)

Mary (2007, official bootleg, Clyde set)

Let’s begin on January 11th, 1967, in London, where the Jimi Hendrix Experience went into the studio and to cut “Purple Haze.” With twenty minutes left in the session, they decided to cut a quick demo of a newly written song as well, “The Wind Cries Mary.” Written by Hendrix following a screaming fight with his then-girlfriend Kathy Etchingham (Mary being her middle name, which Hendrix would use to annoy her) over whether her mashed potatoes were too lumpy, the song is a downbeat R&B number with lyrics that can be best described as a sad man’s psychedelic whinge. 

A quarter-century later, Tori Amos stepped into a Capitol Records studio with Davitt Sigerson to pen a response of sorts. “Mary” is no straightforward response song reimagining events from Etchingham’s perspective—indeed it’s not even about her in any sense. Nor is it hostile to Hendrix to any real degree—he’s invoked on a chummy first-name basis in the second part of the chorus by way of reassuring the eponymous Mary that “even the wind cries your name.” 

Amos, instead ...

Some Magic Buried Deep in My Heart (Take to the Sky)

Take to the Sky (1992)

Take to the Sky (TV performance, 1998)

Take to the Sky (webcast, 2001)

Take to the Sky (TV performance, 2002)

Take to the Sky (official bootleg, 2005)

Take to the Sky (official bootleg, 2007)

Take to the Sky/Datura (webcast, 2014)

In the wounded aftermath of Y Kant Tori Read, with Atlantic demanding a new record on about six months turnaround, Amos was invited over by her high school friend Cindy Marble, who was living in LA also failing to make it in the music industry. Marble had a piano at her place, and Amos, who had gotten rid of her own piano during her excursion as a rock chick, sat down to play, finding herself so utterly engrossed by her old instrument that she lost track of hours and of Marble. Marble implored her to take the instrument back up, arguing that this was the setting in which Amos felt authentic and genuine. And so Amos rented a piano for the apartment she was sharing with her boyfriend/producer Eric Rosse and began to write.

Unsurprisingly, she began with a song that grappled with her failure. “Take to the Sky,” called “Russia” in ...

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