Looking back at Boys For Pele

09:54


Being slightly obsessed with Tori Amos, I have found my various social media feeds flooded in the last 24 hours with posts and links about the 20th anniversary of the release of her third album, Boys For Pele. One of the best I read was this one by Justin Chadwick which goes into greater detail about its themes than I will. It’s definitely worth a read.


Sadly, I cannot claim the badge of being there for all of those years. I have no stories of buying the album as a young teenager with my hard earned pocket money, like I wish I did. Alas, I was only twelve at the time, and ignorant to the amazing work entering the world. I did not get introduced to the music of Tori Amos until my final years of high school.


It was in the music classroom where one of my friends was singing Winter for one of our assessments (the same song I would use to audition, unsuccessfully, for Australian Idol three years later). I was enraptured. What song is that? What’s the album called? How can I get it in my ears? That was when I started spending my hard earned money (from car washing and working at ‘The Egg Shed’ on Saturdays) on Tori’s albums. That was the year 2000. Over the next couple of years, I got to know her (then) five albums.


Of those, it is hard to say that one particularly out-shone the others. Remember, I had a tsunami of emotionally rich and powerful music all at once, I wasn’t getting to know each album individually over time. But the strength and the ‘I feel like crap and I’m gonna own it and here’s why’ vibe of Boys For Pele was exactly what my teenage-in-turmoil-self wanted to hear.


Being that Car Boot Typewriter is about my writerly adventures, I thought I’d briefly describe the effects that my obsession with Tori has had on my writing. You can see from my Last.Fm history that she has a special place in my heart (and that’s only since 2007). Her unique style is something that influences me on subconscious and conscious levels.


With lyrics like:

Blood roses
Blood roses
Back on the street now
Can't forget the things you never said
On days like these starts me thinking
When chickens get a taste of your meat girl
Chickens get a taste of your meat yes

You gave him you blood
And your warm little diamond
He likes killing you after you're dead
You think I'm a queer
I think you're a queer
Said I think you're a queer
I think you're a queer
I shaved every place where you been boy
I said I shaved every place where you been yes



It’s easy to see that her style of storytelling is not as straightforward as some songwriters’.


In my younger years, when I wrote tragic poetry on a regular basis, I used to try and emulate her way of lacing together seemingly disparate images to make achingly deep metaphors. I’ll share one example below. But now that I predominately write prose, it’s the first drafts that I catch myself out. As an author that has steeped long in the oeuvre of a particular creative voice, I notice that my words can tumble out of me in similar ways. Nothing so crafted, I am not comparing myself at all. In fact, these turns of phrase or patterns tend to be edited out in ensuing drafts, for what works for poetry and song lyrics does not always work in prose.


I won’t go on and on, if you’ve heard of Tori Amos, you have more than likely formed your own opinion of her work, but if you haven’t and this post is your introduction, I consider it a great honour. In any case, she is an artist of immense talent who I cannot recommend strongly enough for you to re-visit, or get to know for the first time.


As promised, here is some tragic poetry/song lyrics I wrote years ago that, at the time, I felt I was channelling Tori Amos…



Solomon


Yesterday was clouded over
a letter arrived from Marianne
after reading it twice
I folded it neatly and
slipped it into the cover of that dusty bible
I never thought it would come to this
trying to work out which of the pin stripes
in your suit is me
trying to get things together
maybe trying too hard
though I might be fooling myself
and maybe I’m not trying at all


Solomon sang deep and low
as we drove up the misty coast
he sang of his heart of gold
I saw it glowing there
but he kept it all for himself
and shared none with me
I’m naked but for my fear
but it’s so thick it covers me fine


I bring myself back to this couch
where I sit waiting for you to come home
you’re on your way, you’ve just called
if I tricked you into taking my face
would you treat it gently?
I read that Joan will burn for you
so long as the price is high enough
of all the wealth in the world
you’re all I’ve got
and I wouldn’t lose you
even for salvation


Solomon sang deep and low
as we drove up the misty coast
he sang of his heart of gold
I saw it glowing there
but he kept it all for himself
and shared none with me
I’m naked but for my fear
but it’s so thick it hides me from view


I used a ball-point pen
to sketch an angel on my leg
she follows me still
her wings gently holding me
so gently sometimes I forget that she’s there
maybe she’s not
I want to know someone’s keeping watch
I just want to know who’s counting the dots
and keeping the score


Solomon sang deep and low
as we drove up the misty coast
he sang of his heart of gold
I saw it glowing there
but he kept it all for himself
and shared none with me
I’m naked but for my fear
but it’s so thick it no-one can see me at all





Listen to Boys For Pele:



Do you have a musical artist that has influenced you? That you feel shapes your writing, or your creative outlet, whatever it may be? Tell me; introduce me to other wonderful ear-parcels!


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