The B-Keeper. See What I Did There?

I have been assembling B-Sides like a fucking madman over the last couple of weeks. You know what the secret is? Torrenting. If you’re going to download music illicitly, or go hunting for rarities, use torrents. You can almost always find what you’re looking for, and if you’re missing a specific song, you can do what I do and start checking mediafire and 4shared for individual audio files and comparing minute differences in starting time and audio quality to see which one is superior. I’m sort of an accidental audiophile.

Tori’s Infamous List of Bee Sides

So, of the artists that I “collect,” Tori Amos has unquestionably the most B-Sides (although Ke$ha wins for the most demos/unreleased songs, she has over 80, but I really didn’t bother with them). So, for you Toriphiles out there, I thought I would show you my list of Tori B-Sides as a guide for anyone looking to assemble their own collection of B-Sides. My source for the majority of these files is a thread on a Spanish website called Taringa! where someone very kindly uploaded pretty much every single Tori B-Side, remix, and promo single ever released. Finding it is difficult, I still have to go on a mad hunt for this thread any time I need it, because I never bother bookmarking it, and I also think that it’s been made private now so you have to make an account there to view it (which I did, earlier this year when I first compiled my B-Sides). Also, there are quite a few Tori Amos discography torrents that have a lot of these, and if you can find the torrent with a copy of the 4-disc bootleg called “The Lost Works,” you’re mostly set.

I have done my B-Side hunting for Tori on about 5 different occasions now, always on a different computer each time, and this time I’m getting some CD-R’s and backing this stuff up. Of course I should mention that the best way to go about getting some of these songs is to just BUY the music properly, but some stuff, you’re just not going to be able to find, and some stuff isn’t actually available on CD (like the audio rips of the instrumental versions of tracks from Tales of a Librarian, or the audio rip of Garlands from the bonus DVD in the deluxe edition of The Beekeeper). And for those of you who ARE going to buy the music properly, I have some words of caution for you.

iTunes’ Woefully Inaccurate 1996 Selection

Tori’s third album (and incidentally, my favorite) is called Boys For Pele, released in 1996. If you want to get a copy of this album (and I highly suggest you should), you should know that iTunes has fucked the tracklisting all to hell. Your best bet is to do what I did and order a copy of the album from eBay. I believe I payed about 6 dollars altogether for the physical album, which gave me perfect rips of the tracks without improper audio or tracklisting, for less money than it would cost to purchase the album online. So, there are three editions of Boys For Pele: the original version is 18 tracks long, and has all of the original versions of the songs. The second edition of the album is my personal favorite, and the one you’d find if you were to order the album from any major retailer, like Amazon or Barnes & Noble: this version of the album has one difference from the original, in that the song Talula is replaced with “the Tornado Mix,” which is a version of the song used on the Twister soundtrack. This version is just better than the original, it adds more percussion, makes the song a bit groovier, although it does omit a few little sections of lyrics. If you’re hardcore and want to have everything Tori has ever released, I would suggest putting the original version of Talula in your list of Pele B-Sides, or putting the Tornado Mix in your list of B-Sides. Personally, I just use the Tornado Mix on my Boys For Pele and I’m done with it.

Finally, there is a third version of the album, and this is my least favorite version. The fourth track, Professional Widow, is followed up by the famous Armand Van Helden remix that granted Tori her biggest hit to date when his remix went to the top of the dance charts. Not only does throwing a remix right into the middle of the album mess up the flow of the whole thing, but it also caused one of the songs, In The Springtime of His Voodoo, to be cut completely from this version.

iTunes’ version of Boys For Pele is the third edition of the album, which in itself is already a misrepresentation of the album, but to make things worse, they don’t actually include Professional Widow. Both Professional Widow and the Armand Van Helden Remix are the exact same audio track. It’s just the same track twice in a row. For this reason, I highly, highly suggest buying the original album on eBay or from any major retailer. Hell, if you go into a well-stocked Barnes & Noble, you just might find it.

Now, back to our original mission: B-Sides. The album is not the only thing iTunes has wrong, the Hey Jupiter EP is in even worse shape. The version of Hey Jupiter used here is NOT the Dakota Version (the remix used as the single version of the song, which is about 6 minutes long and includes some heartbreaking additional lyrics), though it’s labelled as such, and the Merry Widow version of Professional Widow, which is an intense, emotional performance of the song live on harmonium, isn’t here either, it’s the original version of the song. Once again, my advice is to buy the physical EP from eBay or Amazon, it’s not very expensive and it’s worth it to get the real stuff.

There’s one another album that iTunes has messed up: Tori’s box set release, A Piano: The Collection. It has all the right audio files, but there are a lot of inexplicable silences at the beginning of the songs. Me and a Gun, for instance, has about 4 seconds of silence before the song begins. It’s not done by the artist, it’s a mistake that for some reasons happens to a lot of album uploaded to iTunes, and I can’t quite explain it. If you really want to support Tori and buy her music, do what I did: purchase A Piano from iTunes, and then go and download a torrent of the album with the proper audio files. That way you’ve payed for it and you’ve got the proper songs.

Apart from the above mentioned releases, the rest of the Tori selection on iTunes seems to be perfectly accurate. The rest of the EP’s are all in good order, I got Crucify, God, and Raspberry Swirl from the iTunes store and they’re the right songs. The only thing is that beginning with Scarlet’s Walk, iTunes has posted multiple versions of the same album, some with no differences from one another. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense, for instance, there are 4 versions of American Doll Posse, one with 23 tracks, one with 23 tracks and a digital booklet, another that is identical to the second one I mentioned, and a third with the digital booklet and bonus videos. It would have much more prudent to either post one edition of the album, or at very least a regular edition and a deluxe edition. But who am I to tell the geniuses at iTunes what to do.

See that? That was a pun. I was being funny. See how funny I am?

On to the B-Sides Already!

So, without further adue, I present to you, my collection of Tori Amos B-Sides. And no, I’m not going to give you download links, because firstly I can’t be bothered to upload them all, and also because collecting these songs isn’t really all that challenging, it just requires a bit of digging around.

Note on my formatting: I include studio tracks first, then songs from soundtracks, and then live tracks. I do not include remixes or alternate versions of songs. Other than that, the songs are pretty much in chronological order of release. Also, for album art, I used some of the Polaroids from the special edition box set of Scarlet’s Walk, just as a way to keep them all uniform, but it’s fun to find different single covers to use as album artwork. All of my information on these songs, as well as the photos I used for album artwork, along with pretty much anything else you would ever need to know about Tori Amos, is from my friend Jason’s very popular Tori Amos fansite, Yessaid.

Little Earthquakes: B-Sides

1 Upside Down [from Me and a Gun single]
2 Thoughts [from Me and a Gun single]
3 Sugar [from China single]
4 Flying Dutchman [from China single]
5 Humpty Dumpty [from China single]
6 The Pool [from Winter single]
7 Take To The Sky [from Winter single]
8 Sweet Dreams [from Winter single]
9 Angie [from Winter/Crucify singles]
10 Smells Like Teen Spirit [from Winter/Crucify singles]
11 Thank You [from Winter/Crucify singles]
12 Here. In My Head [from Crucify single]
13 Mary [from Crucify single]
14 Ode To The Banana King (Part One) [from Silent All These Years single]
15 Song For Eric [from Silent All These Years single]
16 Ring My Bell [Anita Ward cover – from Ruby Trax: The NME’s Roaring Forty]
17 The Happy Worker [from Toys Soundtrack]
18 Little Earthquakes (Live) [from Crucify single]
19 Crucify (Live) [from Crucify single]
20 Precious Things (Live) [from Crucify single]
21 Mother (Live) [from Crucify single]
22 Happy Phantom (Live) [from Silent All These Years single]
23 Silent All These Years (Live) [from Silent All These Years RAINN re-release single]

What’s missing: there is a single edit of China, as well as an edit of Flying Dutchman, both featured on the french China single, that I didn’t include. There’s also a remix of The Happy Worker called “Workers,” I don’t know if it’s an official release, but I didn’t include it. I also didn’t include the single remix of Crucify, not because I don’t like it but because it’s on A Piano: The Collection. In fact, A Piano saves me the trouble of including any of the single mixes, because they’re all featured in the box set.

Under the Pink: B-Sides

1 Sister Janet [from Cornflake Girl single]
2 All the Girls Hate Her [piano suite – from Cornflake Girl single]
3 Over It [piano suite – from Cornflake Girl single]
4 A Case Of You [Joni Mitchell cover – from Cornflake Girl single]
5 If 6 Was 9 [Jimi Hendrix cover – from Cornflake Girl single]
6 Strange Fruit [Billie Holiday cover – from Cornflake Girl single]
7 Home on the Range (Cherokee Edition) [traditional folk song with some added lyrics – from God single]
8 Daisy Dead Petals [from Pretty Good Year single]
9 Honey [from Pretty Good Year single]
10 Black Swan [from Pretty Good Year single]
11 Losing My Religion [R.E.M. cover – from Higher Learning Soundtrack]
12 Butterfly [from Higher Learning Soundtrack]
13 Famous Blue Raincoat [Leonard Cohen cover – from Tower of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen]
14 Down By The Seaside [Led Zeppelin cover with Robert Plant – from Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin]
15 Upside Down (Live) [from Past the Mission single]
16 Past the Mission (Live) [from Past the Mission single]
17 Icicle (Live) [prefaced with a story from Tori – from Past the Mission single]
18 Flying Dutchman (Live) [from Past the Mission single]
19 Winter (Live) [from Past the Mission single]
20 The Waitress (Live) [from Past the Mission single]
21 Here. In My Head (Live) [from Past the Mission single]

What’s missing: every remix of God, and a live performance of Little Drummer Boy that was included on You Sleigh Me: Alternate Christmas Hits as well as More Pink: The B-Sides, the second disc of Under the Pink’s special Australian/New Zealand tour edition. I didn’t include it because firstly, no recordings of it, not even the one featured on More Pink, are very good quality, secondly because I just don’t like it, and thirdly because I haven’t really bothered to hunt around for it. There’s also a single edit of Cornflake Girl that I actually really like, which skips right ahead to the bridge after the second chorus, and I enjoy it as much as the original, they don’t cut out any singing, just a bit of rhythm playing between the second verse and the bridge.

It helped with some of these that the photos are the same color scheme as the album.

Boys For Pele: B-Sides

1 This Old Man [traditional folk song – from Caught a Lite Sneeze single]
2 Hungarian Wedding Song [from Caught a Lite Sneeze single]
3 Toodles Mr. Jim [from Caught a Lite Sneeze single]
4 London Girls [Chas & Dave cover – from Caught a Lite Sneeze single]
5 That’s What I Like Mick (The Sandwich Song) [Chas & Dave cover – from Caught a Lite Sneeze single]
6 Samurai [from Caught a Lite Sneeze single]
7 Graveyard [from Caught a Lite Sneeze single]
8 Amazing Grace – Til the Chicken [the first song is a traditional folk song – from Talula single]
9 Frog On My Toe [from Talula single]
10 Sister Named Desire [from Talula single]
11 Alamo [from Talula single]
12 Blue Skies [from Party of 5 Soundtrack]
13 I’m On Fire (Live) [Bruce Springsteen cover – from VH1 Crossroads]
14 Landslide (Live) [Fleetwood Mac cover – from Y-100 Sonic Sessions: Volume 1]
15 Sugar (Live) [from Hey Jupiter single]
16 Honey (Live) [from Hey Jupiter single]
17 Professional Widow (Merry Widow Version – Live) [A very different version of the song played on harmonium – from Hey Jupiter single]
18 Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Live) [Judy Garland cover – from Hey Jupiter single]

What’s missing: Well the obvious missing links are the Armand Van Helden remix of Professional Widow, along with every other remix of the song. There are also remixes for Talula, In The Springtime of His Voodoo, and even some unreleased remixes of Horses that aren’t included here. The Dakota Version of Hey Jupiter isn’t included either, for the same reason a the Crufiy single remix: both the Professional Widow remix and the Dakota Version of Hey Jupiter are on A Piano: The Collection. I also didn’t include the Tornado Mix of Talula because I have it filed under the album itself, and just omit the original version of Talula altogether. If you wanted to include it, I’d recommend putting it right between Graveyard and Amazing Grace, since that would be where you’d find it chronologically.

From the Choirgirl Hotel: B-Sides

(the amount of B-Sides drastically decrease after Boys For Pele, both because Tori started releasing remixes of her songs, and also I assume because CD singles were beginning to become obsolete. I personally enjoy a nice single EP)

1 Purple People (Christmas In Space) [from Spark single]
2 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas [traditional folk song – from Spark single]
3 Bachelorette [from Spark single]
4 Do It Again [from Spark single]
5 Cooling [from Spark single]
6 Beulah Land [from Jackie’s Strength single]
7 Never Seen Blue [from Jackie’s Strength single]
8 Finn [from Great Expectations soundtrack]
9 Siren [from Great Expectations soundtrack]
10 Merman [from No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees]

What’s missing: Every remix of Raspberry Swirl, Spark, Cruel, Jackie’s Strength, and Father Lucifer. Although I do personally like some of those remixes, I just don’t like including remixes in my B-Sides. There’s also a track in the Great Expectations score called Paradiso Perduto that features some Tori vocals, but I didn’t include it here either, both because I just didn’t want to and because it’s annoying to try and hunt down the score.

I used the garden because of Datura. Aren't I clever?

To Venus And Back: B-Sides

(Venus doesn’t actually have any original B-Sides, they’re all live performances that I assume were scrapped from Still Orbiting. It is interesting to note that all of the live performances featured as B-Sides are Tori playing solo without the band. The only thing that can be considered a B-Side from this album is Carnival, which is a song featured on the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack. I personally think it looks weird and throws off the way the Venus B-Sides look. You might want to tack it on to the end of the Choirgirl B-Sides, even though it’d be chronologically incorrect, since Venus was the album that was out when she did the song)

1 Carnival [from Mission Impossible 2 Soundtrack]
2 Hey Jupiter (Live) [from 1000 Oceans single]
3 Upside Down (Live) [from 1000 Oceans single]
4 Baker Baker (Live) [from Glory of the 80’s single]
5 Winter (Live) [from Glory of the 80’s single]
6 Famous Blue Raincoat (Live) [from Concertina single]
7 Twinkle (Live) [from Concertina single]

What’s missing: the single mix of Concertina. However, as with the other single mixes, it’s included on A Piano: The Collection. I don’t ever let songs repeat in my collection, because as you can clearly see, I am extremely organized. On that note, this is not technically organized chronologically, because Famous Blue Raincoat and Twinkle were released on the Glory of the 80’s single first, but I prefer them in this order.

Strange Little Girls: B-Sides

1 After All [from Strange Little Girl single]
2 Only Women Bleed [from Strange Little Girl single]

What’s missing: not much. There are only two B-Sides for this whole album, and they were included on the same single, which is the ONLY official single released for the album. There is a promo single of Strange Little Girl, which contains supposed “single edits” of Strange Little Girl, ’97 Bonnie & Clyde, and Heart of Gold. I cannot find any difference between the “single edits” and the album versions, but I wouldn’t have included them here regardless.

Scarlet’s Walk: B-Sides

(some of the songs that I’m crediting as being released on Scarlet’s Hidden Treasures, the bonus CD that comes with Welcome to Sunny Florida, were originally released on Scarlet’s Web, a website that was accessible using the Scarlet’s Walk CD, but not only are the versions released on Welcome to Sunny Florida of generally better audio quality, they’re also just better in that order because it makes a very nice EP)

1 Ruby Through The Looking-Glass [from Scarlet’s Hidden Treasures]
2 Seaside [from Scarlet’s Hidden Treasures]
3 Bug A Martini [from Scarlet’s Hidden Treasures]
4 Apollo’s Frock [from Scarlet’s Hidden Treasures]
5 Tombigbee [from Scarlet’s Hidden Treasures]
6 Indian Summer [from Scarlet’s Hidden Treasures]
7 Operation Peter Pan [from A Sorta Fairytale single]
8 Mountain [from Scarlet’s Web]

What’s missing: the single mix, and the 101 mix, of A Sorta Fairytale. Both of them are good mixes, though. Also it should be noted that there are no versions of Mountain of very high audio quality, as far as I’ve been able to find at least. There are also some remixes of Make Me Come To Vegas, and some radio versions of Taxi Ride and Strange, that I am completely not interested in.

To be honest, that’s the end of the B-Sides as we know them, there have been singles or EPs released after Scarlet’s Walk, and we now get our B-Sides from poorly put-together bonus DVDs, and deluxe editions of the albums. However, for your convenience, I’ll include the remaining bonus tracks.

Tales of a Librarian: B-Sides

(there is one “reconditioned” [or “badly remastered”] version of Putting the Damage On that didn’t make the physical album, but it is on the bonus DVD, as well as the iTunes release. The live performances are taken from the sound check of the performance that was used on Welcome to Sunny Florida. I personally don’t have any of these in my library.)

1 Putting the Damage On [reconditioned version – bonus track on iTunes release of Tales of a Librarian]
2 Mr. Zebra (Instrumental) [from Tales of a Librarian bonus DVD]
3 Putting the Damage On (Instrumental) [from Tales of a Librarian bonus DVD]
4 Pretty Good Year (Live) [from Tales of a Librarian bonus DVD]
5 Northern Lad (Live) [from Tales of a Librarian bonus DVD]
6 Honey (Live) [from Tales of a Librarian bonus DVD]

What’s missing: There is a radio edit of Mary that was released on a promo single, but my rule for Tori B-Sides is that I don’t include alternate versions, all the important ones, except for A Sorta Fairytale’s single version, can be found on an official release somewhere.

The Beekeeper: B-Sides

1 Garlands [from The Beekeeper bonus DVD]

What’s missing: there are some audio rips of Tori playing live on the DVD, but I’m not interested. In my iTunes, I have this filed as Garlands – Single, and I used the Sleeps With Butterflies artwork. Just a suggestion.

American Doll Posse: B-Sides

1 My Posse Can Do [from American Doll Posse bonus DVD]
2 Miracle [bonus track from iTunes release of American Doll Posse]
3 Drive All night [bonus track from Borders release of American Doll Posse] 

What’s missing: Not a thing. And in fact, the final three tracks on the album are apparently bonus tracks themselves, but there’s no version that doesn’t feature them, so I don’t quite see how they’re bonus tracks. Incidentally, Posse Bonus is an entire song dedicated to telling you that you’re getting bonus tracks. Yeah, it’s safe to say Tori’s albums are a little less entertaining nowadays when you get an entire number about your bonus tracks… Also, My Posse Can Do is an audio rip from the bonus DVD on the deluxe edition of American Doll Posse, I don’t know of anywhere you could properly buy the audio file, but the audio file is floating around, and can be found on some torrents.

Abnormally Attracted to Sin: B-Sides

1 Oscar’s Theme [bonus track on iTunes release of Abnormally Attracted to Sin]

What’s missing: That’s it, it’s just Oscar’s Theme. It’s track 18 on one of iTunes releases of the album.

Midwinter Graces: B-Sides

(All of these are covers of traditional folk songs. There are some original songs on the album, and Tori adds/changes some lyrics on all of the carols, but these tracks are still traditional folk songs)

1 Comfort and Joy [bonus track on deluxe version and iTunes release of Midwinter Graces]
2 Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! (Silent Night! Holy Night!) [bonus track on deluxe version and iTunes release of Midwinter Graces]
3 Good King Wenceslas [bonus track on iTunes release of Midwinter Graces]

What’s missing: Unless you want to count the bonus interview on the DVD of the deluxe version and the iTunes release as a B-Sides, nothing’s missing from here.

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#26: Family

My Tori Amos collection has grown by two CDs: one album, Under the Pink, and the Hey Jupiter EP.

Under the Pink is Tori’s second album, the followup to 1992’s Little Earthquakes. Funny story: before I ever really knew who Tori was, I actually found two mint condition copies of Under the Pink, as well as the Crucify EP (and since it didn’t include Smells Like Teen Spirit, it has to have been an international version), and I bought none of them. That’s right, I left them all there, assuming that Tori would turn out to be another Annie Lennox: I’d get excited, decide to buy all  of her albums, and then decide she wasn’t quite my style, and I’d have another CD I didn’t want. I probably would have enjoyed Under the Pink had I bought it then, I’ve heard a few people say that this is the best of Amos’ albums to start with. It walks a fine line between the somewhat radio-friendly sounds of Little Earthquakes and the off-kilter obscurity of Boys For Pele. It also has Cornflake Girl, one of my favorites which includes an awesome piano breakdown in the bridge.

In preparation for the arrival of Under the Pink (I bought it on eBay), I downloaded the music video for the album’s first track, Pretty Good Year. Later on, in the Boys For Pele era, Tori would release a music video for the remix of Professional Widow, featuring clips from all of her videos up to that point. I couldn’t help but notice that some of the clips were of Tori in a white dress doing choreography, and choreography seems quite out of the norm for her. I, of course, love choreography, and constantly make music videos in my head that include it. Anyway, the choreography clip was from Pretty Good Year, during this awesome moment in the bridge where the song transforms from a soft ballad to a screaming, rocking anthem, and then back again.

The second new addition is the Hey Jupiter EP, the title track of which isn’t the album version, but a remix called the Dakota Version. This is also the version used in the music video, the version featured on her retrospective collection A Piano, and generally seems to be the one listened to the most. It seems to me almost every single from Boys For Pele was remixed when it became a single; that doesn’t surprise me since much of Pele is very out in left field as far as radio goes. The remixes aren’t always a bad thing though, I’ve heard the original version of Talula and I think it’s terrible compare to the Tornado Mix.

The rest of the EP is live performances. Sugar and Honey are both B-sides from Under the Pink, the former about a cafe boy who couldn’t remember how many sugars Tori liked in her tea after serving her for nine months, and the latter Tori says is her favorite song from Under the Pink, but it was cut during mastering. The next track is a live performance of the Merry Widow version of Professional Widow. This is a very different take on Professional Widow, slow, brooding, and emotional, with Tori literally screaming through the bridge, and the entire song is backed by a harmonium. She jokingly mentions before beginning the song that the last time she tried singing it she “gave myself a brain annurism.” The final track is my favorite, a cover of Over the Rainbow. Having been a fan of Evanescence, I’m too used to seeing the word “haunting” attached to songs, and I wouldn’t say that it is haunting in my opinion, I just find it to be very emotional. This rarely happens, but I actually can’t seem to hear the song without tearing up, and that’s special because not every song effects me like that. It’s very soft, very quiet, very vulnerable, scared, and wishing.

As for the Tori Amos material I already have, I’ve basically given up on listening to A Piano: The Collection, because I want to hear the originals before I hear their remastered versions. Even though many of the songs stay true to their originals, I would still prefer to hear them on their respective albums first, and then if I ever get the collection, I’ll enjoy it a lot more.

I’ve revisited Tales of a Librarian, and found that after some time away from it I’ve found that it’s grown on me. I still think it’s not the best of Tori Amos’ albums to start with, the feeling is too country for my tastes. The album isn’t without it’s own original material though: Angels and Snow Cherries From France are new tracks, while earlier B-Sides Sweet Dreams and Mary were completely redone for this collection. Tales of a Librarian also features the radio edit of Armand Van Helden’s Star Trunk Funkin’ remix of Professional Widow, which was included on the second re-release of Boys For Pele and the Professional Widow single.

American Doll Posse is finally beginning to grow on me, the album is radically different from Tori’s earlier works, particularly Boys For Pele, which is almost entirely instruments and vocals, with little to no studio work really done. Every now and then a bass guitar shows up, but for the most part, Boys For Pele is piano, harpsichord, and vocals. American Doll Posse comes off as being over-produced upon the first listen, but after some time the songs do begin to grow on you. Tori did say that A Piano was the end of an era, and that American Doll Posse was a step in a new direction. Her tenth album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin, seems to be just as studio-focused as it’s predecessor, and while it is kind of a shame that Tori probably won’t be making another Under the Pink any time soon, it is good to know that she refuses to become a fading memory in the mind of the music world, and that she’s trying to stay current and explore new composition styles.

In personal news, I had a brief chat with the owner of my local bookstore, he saw me wandering and asked if there was anything he could help me find. I fecetiously replied, “A job,” and he told me to fill out an application and call him. Now, that’s something that managers usually say, but he also went as far as to ask if I had a problem working in the cafe. I don’t think he would have been so thorough about it if they didn’t need new help. This is actually the job I’ve always wanted, but as it would happen I’ve had a really fucked up past week.

Emotionally, that is. I have problems with panic/anxiety/stress/etc. and they usually rear their ugly head when I’m out in public. Now they’re starting to take over my whole life. I’m having small panic attacks all the time, regardless of where I am, even in my room which is usually my sanctuary. I’ve had a hard time this week trying to stop thinking about it, and I feel a little better now that I’ve gotten away from my house, but still, it’s becoming a serious problem that I can’t handle on my own anymore. I need medication. I know that sounds like a quick fix, but it isn’t. I want a psychologist, I want someone I can really talk to about all this and get all of this off of my chest, and if need be, I want medication. I want to be able to get in a car or walk into the grocery store without feeling like I’m going to pass out, without my vision blurring, and without my heart beating out of my chest. It’s not fair, I’ve dealt with this for 3 years now and I need it to stop. I just want to be able to feel normal, like I did before I ever passed out in the middle of my classroom in 11th grade, when my life was forever changed, and I would spend every day until this very moment fearing for my health.

And that’s really what it comes down to: fear. If I’m not afraid, I don’t have any significant problems. If I am afraid, the terror follows me around, looming over me and casting a shadow on everything I do. I can’t be brave by myself all the time anymore, I need help. I need someone who knows what I’m going through and knows how to combat it to give me the tools to stop it. I don’t expect it to go away by magic, but I have to have the help I need to be able to get a job and live my own life. If not, my relationship is going to fall apart, and I’m going to become just like the rest of my family: an overgrown child. I already am.

I hate to say those things about myself, if for no other reason than because I know my mother would agree with them. Have I ever mentioned my mother? I hate her. Sometimes I can get along with her, sometimes I even find her pleasant, but when it comes down to it, I hate her in a way so deeply that I can’t stop myself from hating her. And it’s her fault. I know it’s unhealthy to blame your problems on other people, but the majority of my problems are her fault. She’s exactly the opposite of everything I think a parent should be. She has, for half of my life now, disrespected, humiliated and deeply hurt me in ways that I think I’m probably going to spend a lot of time getting over. She is the reason I have stress problems, both because I inherited them from her and because she taught me to fear life, and most importantly to fear her. I honestly have many times wished that she were dead. Because my life would be a lot brighter if she were. Not physically, because I wouldn’t have anyone supporting me, and yes, she does support me, and no, I am not happy about that. The problem is, she never taught me how to be an adult, because I don’t think she really knows how to be one herself. She didn’t raise me, she just kept me fed and clothed, and because she’s become crazier with age, she’s ruined my sister, who now is an entitled brat because her mother has always given her anything she wants. If myself and my brother are any indication, my sister might realize what kind of a person my mother is one day and try to fix all the problems she’s already created for her, but I have a feeling that in the end I’m going to be living somewhere far away from my family with no contact with them at all, and my sister along with the rest of my family will be conditioned to hate me.

Family. I don’t know what that really means. But one day, I’d like to create my own. I’d like to raise a child and teach them about truth, I’d like to try and bring a person into the world who has the ability to question, someone who isn’t fooled by society, someone who yearns to bring love and peace to the human race as much as I do. And maybe he wouldn’t hate society, or humans as a whole, the way I do. Maybe he’d be better than me, because I would give him a chance to flourish. I am a brilliant flower blooming amongst a family of weeds, and I hate them for being who they are.

#17: American Doll Posse, Boys For Pele, and Approaching the Big 2-0

I got American Doll Posse today! As you may remember if you’d read some earlier blogs, American Doll Posse is Tori’s 8th studio album, and is often described as being a “depature” for Tori. I enjoy that, because changing and evolving is always good, and this is also described as being her most rock-influenced album. I am a piano player, but I have to say I always find myself drawn more easily to songs with a rock feel. Luckily, Tori combines both on this album, and how successfully I can’t say for sure yet.

The album is 23 tracks long, some of which are “interlude” tracks, lasting only about a minute, like her 1996 album, Boys For Pele, which, by the way, has also come into my possession recently. I gave most of the album a good listen through earlier, and I think I need to hear it a few more times for it to start to sink in. That’s how I handle almost any music I come to really enjoy; I’ve almost never liked an artist the first time I heard them that I would later come to really enjoy. There’s quite a bit going on on this album, and like most of Tori’s music seems to be with me, it’s hit or miss. I think that most of her fans feel that way, because I’ve seen a lot of comments from her fans saying that a certain album was her last good one and then she changed for the worse, and I’ve seen people say that she’s not the old Tori, etc. But I’m going to give this album a good chance, and I’m happy to have it.

American Doll Posse is also a concept album. In the album, Tori plays five different personas, or “dolls.” Each are apparently derived from ancient archetypes, and heavily based on Greek goddesses. For example, the character of Pip is described as being a warrior woman, and is derived from the Greek goddess of war, Athena.

Did I also mention that this album is beautifully formatted? I’m such a geek for good formatting, and this album is just so fun to examine. I got the special edition (and if you’re going to get this album, I highly reccomend getting the special edition, it doesn’t cost too much more than the regular edition and, as I’ve mentioned, it’s gorgeous), which is paperback, and contains a bonus DVD with an extra song and some footage from the album art photo shoot, as well as give post cards featuring the five doll personas. The whole thing is printed on beautiful quality paper, and we haven’t even started on the content.

Clyde, currently my favorite member of the American Doll Posse

There are introductory statements from each doll persona, revealing some of the characteristics of each. My current favorite is Clyde, who says that she tries to see potential in people. While the posse may come off as seeming aggressive, Clyde seems to me to be the kindest of them. She looks a little scary though, and I think that may by the point: she’s so thoughtful and kind, but she doesn’t necessarily seem that way on the inside. It goes along with her message of seeing potential in others, don’t you think?

The songs on the album are sang by the doll personae. All have their own individual songs, but some of them sing backup on another dolls song, and there’s at least one duet: Body and Soul, featuring Santa and Pip, whose archetypical characteristics seem to be beauty and fierceness respectively. I think most fans of American Doll Posse can decipher their voices; I have not yet figured them all out.

Currently the only songs I’ve really heard more than once are Big Wheel, Programmable Soda, and Velvet Revolution, the latter two of which are “interlude” songs. There are a lot of different feels on this album, from the rockabilly Big Wheel to the heavy metal Teenage Hustling, to Velvet Revolution, which my boyfriend’s Dad compared to Cher’s older material (which, for the record, is my favorite material of Cher’s). There’s even a song that strikes me as being a little contemporary country, Secret Spell.

Altogether, American Doll Posse is contemporary, diverse (both of which I like), and a new direction for Tori Amos.

As I mentioned before, I also bought Boys For Pele, and it must be an older copy from 1996, because the album was later re-released. I was under the impression that there were only two releases: the original featuring two songs that would be remixed, Professional Widow and Talula, and the re-relase containing an added remix of Professional Widow immediately following the original, and the “tornado mix” of Talula. The final song of the album was also cut on the re-release. But I seem to have a combination of the two: my copy has the original Professional Widow with no remix, but the “tornado mix” of Talula. At any rate, I have an older copy of it I’m sure.

The album art is always the first thing to attract me to an album, because it’s simply the first thing you see. While you should never judge a book by it’s cover, I find that oftentimes, well-formatted albums spark my interest more than others. Another positive thing about good formatting is that when a listener has had their fill of an album and puts in the shelf, they’ll be more prompted to pick it back up if it has an appealing case. Formatting is really important to me, sometimes I think I might be well-suited to be a producer, or a person who’s in charge of formatting an album. What’s that job title, I wonder?

Something about this picture says "Stay off my lawn."

The albums cover is really cool, it’s Tori sitting on an old dirty porch of a run-down house in a rocking chair, a gun across her lap, a snake coiled by her dirt covered feet, and an expression on her face that reads “I dare you to test me.” There are dead chickens hanging beside her, and on the back cover she’s holding a pig close to her neck and smiling, as snakes slither across the porch. The artwork inside the album is pretty interesting as well, in one picture Tori suckles the piglet from within a carriage, wearing a yearning, somehow loving expression. In another photo she leans against the carriage with one leg up on the wheel, looking fierce (in both senses of the word).

Boys For Pele and American Doll Posse are similar albums in that they both seem to revolve around concepts, and both touch a great deal on religion. Boys For Pele is known to be Tori’s most lyrically obscure album, and indeed it’s lyrics are filled with nearly indecipherable images, but they seem mostly to be about the darker aspects both of people and especially women. Tori has described the album as being about the darker side of the feminine, and I’ve noticed a couple references to homosexuality too. I would wager to guess that when it comes to masculine versus feminine, the Tori we see on the cover, who figuratively “steals fire” from the men in her past, wouldn’t hold so much against we men of the homosexual persuasion. “Stealing fire” from men, and also finding her own fire as a woman, is the concept of the album, being inspired after Tori learned about the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele.

This album, like American Doll Posse, is divided into four sections, or acts as I call them. I’ve mostly only heard songs from “act one,” but I like what I’ve heard so far. I was at first a little put off by the track titled Father Lucifer, immediately jumping to the idea of a ritualistic worship song (which would be unlike Tori, regardless of what religion), but of course being close-minded is never a good idea, and I have since learned that the song is about the darker side of one’s personality. She wrote the song about an experience in which she took drugs with a South American shaman, and subsequently claims to have visited the devil. I think that sounds like a pretty harrowing experience, but there you are. It’s actually a really pretty track, and during at least one live performance (this particular performance being on the David Letterman show in 1996) segways into the theme from The Excorcist, which I just realized has relevance to the subject of the song.

Caught a Lite Sneeze immediately struck me with it’s blend of what I believe is finger-style guitar and piano played together, creating a really unique sound. Also, and this has no real relevance to anything, but I feel like including it, the song feels very “blue” to me, and not in the sad sense. When I hear it, I just see the color blue for some reason.

So, those are my two new Tori Amos albums, and I’m excited about listening to them, American Doll Posse in particular; Boys For Pele seems to be a fan favorite for Tori, and so far I’m enjoying it as well.

In another matter, I will be turning 20 tomorrow, and I’m just really happy to be celebrating my 20th birthday with my boyfriend, whom I love very much. 🙂 I’m also hoping to get a ride to Best Buy, and maybe some money so that I can afford to buy a USB Microphone. Then I can finally start recording music, and who knows? Maybe I’ll even do a podcast.

So, you all have a blessed day, and the next time I post I will have completed my 19th year in this wonderful and peculiar world of ours, and have begun on my 20th, which I am confident will be the best yet!

#12: A Music Note

So, my new interest is in Tori Amos. If you’re not familiar with Tori Amos, I’m going to fill you in on  what I’ve learned.

It’s possible that, like me, you’ve only heard Tori’s notorious cover of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, transforming it from a grunge anthem to a tragic ballad. Both are good. I read that Kurt Kobain said that Tori’s version was “a nice breakfast cereal version.”

But here’s what I’ve learned of our Miss Amos thus far: she currently has released 11 albums, and that’s not counting singles and EPs. Her first album, Little Earthquakes, contains the song by which I recently discovered her: Precious Things.

Here’s the story of how I found Tori Amos.  I’m a fan of Regina Spektor’s song, Samson, and I was listening to the orignal, slower version of it from her second album Songs. This somehow led me to someone on YouTube playing it and doing his own version of it, which was pretty good, and so I tried another of his covers, which was of Tori Amos’s Precious Things. This led me to a live performance by Tori in 1994, which blew me away, and for the rest of the night I was listening to it over and over again, it inspired a brief poem too. So, with that, I decided to investigate Tori Amos, as I do.

On her iTunes page, there were 27 albums that all had the same name! I found out these were what’s called an Official Bootleg, and it’s basically a live concert. On the tour for her album American Doll Posse, which we’ll get to in a second, she recorded every show and then allowed people to buy them on iTunes. This is a great idea on all sides because fans who’ve never heard her live or who’ve never had the experience to go to one of her concerts, or even who just want more music from her, get to experience every night of the show. On the other end of it, it’s very profitable because each individual show sells for 16 dollars. Not only are there probably a few people who might buy all of the shows, but with so many to choose from, people will feel like they ought to buy at least one, after all, there are 27.

There’s also another official bootleg, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Strange Little Girls

So, Tori Amos has eleven albums, the first of which contains Precious Things, and it’s called Little Earthquakes. I don’t remember everything that I read about all her albums, but I remember that one, Strange Little Girls, is an album of cover songs, in which every one of the original songs was sung by a male about a female, and on her album she reverses the genders, singing the songs from a female perspective (similar to Annie Lennox’s cover album, Medusa, which is what inspired me to one day possibly do a cover album). One of her albums, Boys For Pele, was recorded in a church, and if you’ve ever heard a piano played in a church or especially if you’ve played one, you know the acoustics are great.

After her first 8 albums, Tori released a compilation called A Piano: The Collection. This wasn’t a greatest hits collection per say, she released an album called Tales From a Librarian:  A Tori Amos Collection, and even that wasn’t her greatest hits, because the first track is Precious Things and it was never a single. A Piano is a four disc set containing all of the material up to that point, many are alternate versions of the originals, in their final form, and I think all of her B-Sides are included as well.

What’s cool about this is, for someone just discovering Tori, you’d think A Piano: The Collection would be perfect for someone like me to review and listen to before embarking on discovering her new albums, but it’s over 80 tracks long, which not only makes it unique of the other albums, it also presents fans of the first 8 albums something new from all of their favorite songs. Even on Tales From A Librarian, the album isn’t a collection of singles that charted well, it’s just a good collection. Everything that Tori does is unique and original.

So, Tori said the A Piano: The Collection was the summation of all of her musical work up to that point, and it kind of closed one chapter and she opened another, and I just find that really cool that after 8 albums she decided to take her music in a new direction, kind of like starting from scratch, but not at all starting from scratch, rather taking all of your musical experience and having it under your belt and starting on something fresh and new. The 9th album is called American Doll Posse, and it’s the one I’m planning on getting first, not because I feel I should start on the 9th album, but if you look at her work, and consider that the first 8 albums were a chapter of their own, it’s like dividing her music into two categories: everything up to A Piano: The Collection, and everything after. So if you look at it that way, I really only have 3 Tori Amos albums to investigate, and of course I’ll be looking into the first 8 as well.

I know, I’m such a dork, and this probably all sounds very boring, but to me it’s exciting, it’s a project.

So American Doll Posse is the 8th album, and it’s a concept album, where the songs are told from the perspectives of 5 Tori Amos alter egos, all of which are named after Greek Goddesses and who have their own personalities. This is said to be her most rock-influenced album, which is a good starting point for me too, it’s a zone in which I’m comfortable. The Legs and Boots bootlegs (I did not immediately get the very obvious connection that “Legs and Boots” were the name of “bootlegs,” but probably because I didn’t know they were called Official Bootlegs then, I just called them live albums) all feature pictures of one of the “dolls,” or personalities, depending on which personality starts the show, and throughout the show Tori changes costumes and ultimately finishes the show as herself, or at least the doll named Tori who is a caricature of herself. I haven’t yet figured out if they’re the exact same person or not.

I thought about maybe doing an album like this, since I created two alter egos for myself when I was about 12, and they lived in my mind up until I was 18. I’m glad they’re gone, I don’t want them back in my head, it was sad and sick that I needed them to talk to when I was alone, but I thought they might make interesting alter egos to play on an album. Their names were Max and Lance, they were originally created as my “good” and “bad (more in the naughty sense than anything, they’re both good)” sides, but eventually they grew up a bit. Lance was straight and Max was gay before I ever admitted to myself that I was, and eventually Lance revealed that he was bi, and one night the two of them just fell in love, and spent the rest of forever together. I think it’s a sweet ending for two characters who spent 6 years in my mind. Once one of my ex’s dumped me, I decided I didn’t want them anymore, they were unhealthy, and they resurfaced a few times after that, but eventually I moved on, and I didn’t need them anymore.

Back to Tori Amos! Remember the other bootlegs I told you about? Those are live performances of her 8th album, The Beekeper, and there are significantly fewer, I think 5 or 6, all with their own unique cover art (the cover of each Legs and Boots album is a portrait of the doll who begins the show).

So, we have American Doll Posse, a rock concept album with political undertones and probably a lot more (I just don’t know too much about it yet), Abnormally Attracted to Sin, an album which contains a lot more electronic music and synth than her previous work, and Midwinter Graces, a seasonal album with her own takes on classic winter and holiday songs, along with some original songs.

So, I’ve got my work cut out for me there. I’ve also discovered that The Hush Sound’s female lead singer, Greta, has a solo project, which is cool because she composed You Are The Moon, the song which drew me to The Hush Sound in the first place. Also, her voice is a little shaky on The Hush Sound’s second album, Like Vines (the only one I own right now), but from the previews I heard of their third album, Goodbye Blues, her voice has improved a lot, so I’m hopeful for her solo project. I don’t remember what it’s called, but I think there is an album available.

Also, I’ve gotten into Marilyn Manson. I, like many others, had always stereotyped Marilyn Manson as being ridiculous and sick, but upon further review of their music (yes, their music, Marilyn Manson is actually a band, eponymously named after the stage name of the band’s lead singer), it’s pretty awesome, and it’s all very meaningful, rebellious, and frankly, pretty cool. So, I was mistaken about Manson, and it turns out they’re actually really cool, so their Greatest Hits has been added to my wishlist (normally I don’t go for Greatest Hits, but like Tori Amos, Marilyn Manson has a lot of albums, and all the songs I already like are on this album, except for one, Heart-Shaped Glasses, the single of which I downloaded from iTunes).

So, Tori Amos, The Hush Sound, Greta’s (I can’t remember her last name) solo project, and Marilyn Manson. My recommendations, and my current projects.

So, our friend Imogen Heap has outdone herself once again. I think she’s so cool and she’s so charitable and just has such a good connection to her fans, she involves them in every way that she can. She’s currently on the North American leg of her Ellipse World Tour, and here’s what she’s doing:

There’s a song on Ellipse called Earth, which I just remembered I was going to do a blog about, so I might do that later and you’ll hear my take on the song. During the UK leg of the tour, she had cellists try out at every show to play during Aha! During this leg of the tour, she’s having people upload their own interpretations of Earth via YouTube, and she’s going to have a different person for every show come on stage and sing Earth with her! Even cooler, the person who wins for the night also gets their own 15 minute set before Immi’s begins! She can do this because she operates under her own record label, Megaphonic records (I have fantasized quite often about being signed to Immi’s label and her becoming my friend and musical mentor), and so her shows can be anywhere she wants, the tickets can cost whatever she wants them to, and anyone who she chooses can play if she so chooses! Isn’t that awesome?

Honestly, I’d really like to try out, but I don’t really have any ideas for Earth, and as much as I’d love the oppurtunity not only to see Imogen Heap perform live, but to meet her and be a part of her show, I don’t think I could do a good interpretation of Earth. It’s completely acapella, and my forte is piano, and it’s not that a good piano backup couldn’t be done, it’s just that I’m not sure I could do it. But the idea of my own 15 minute show before Imogen Heap’s is pretty awesome.

Another obstacle is that she isn’t coming to my town. The closest she’ll be to where I live is Atlanta, Georgia, and since I currently have no money and no transportation, my only hope is that my boyfriend would get us tickets and we could take turns driving there. I presented him with the idea and told him not to say yes or no, because asking him to buy us tickets and drive to Georgia is a pretty big favor to ask, boyfriend or no, and asked him just to think about it for a week or so.

To demonstrate how serious I am, my plan has been to get my license within the week, which I’d still like to do, but I don’t really know how I could. I only have my learner’s permit right now, and I’m very rusty at driving. A few days ago I drove down the street to get our umbrella out of someone’s yard, and on the way back, I literally drove on the left side of the road. I didn’t realize what I was doing at first, but I felt like I was doing something very wrong, and then it hit me. So, I need some more practice. Even good drivers get into accidents, and I’m honestly very confused about the rules of the road. I don’t quite know what to do at all kinds of stoplights, I don’t know how to handle a situation in which someone is driving stupid, and in fact, I probably wouldn’t even realize that they were driving incorrectly because I have so little driving experience. But I said I’d get my license by the end of the week and I’m going to at very least put some effort into refining my driving skills. After all, I could technically go and take my test, but I’ve failed the last three times I’ve taken it, and then was when I was driving pretty decently.

So, right now my hopes as far as going to a concert are to see Imogen Heap in Georgia. I did have my heart set on Lady Gaga, since she’s coming to my town in September, but honestly tickets are really expensive, I probably wouldn’t be able to get enough money together to get really good seats, and an Imogen Heap concert would be so much more creative and unique. While I really would like to see Gaga and the Monster Ball, especially after all my time obsessing over her, and while it would be gratifying to finally see a Gaga performance, especially this one, because her performances are just getting more and more elaborate and this will probably blow anything I’ve already seen out of the water, it’s ironically much more feasible to drive the distance to Atlanta, Georgia and see Imogen Heap. It’s in a much smaller and more comfortable setting, and Immi is really active with the audience and involves them as much as possible, and besides her music is so diverse and creative and she’s such a big idol of mine that it would really be a pleasure to see her perform before she goes back to Europe.

So, that’s the deal with me seeing Immi. Hopefully it will happen.

Oh, one more thing! I’m finally starting piano lessons. Someone is giving me free piano lessons because she says she needs to practice teaching, and we’re starting this Saturday. I can’t wait, because while the self-taught pianists I’m a fan of are all very good at what they do: Matt Theeson, Sara Bareilles, I think Hayley Williams, those who are classically trained are a million times more talented, like Tori Amos and Imogen Heap. So I think it would do me a world of good to have some good serious training under my belt, and it would also offer the option of being an accompanist if I needed some extra money.

I also spent some more money on iTunes! First, I bought Imogen Heap’s live album “An Evening With I Megaphone.” As far as I know, the album is only available via iTunes, and it’s well worth ten dollars, especially since it’s 16 tracks long, includes 2 Q & A sections, and introductions to every song explaining it, plus tons of fun Immi laughing and improvisation.

There’s also a beautiful digital booklet featuring paintings of Imogen and the set, and it’s altogether a great buy, especially if you have iMegaphone. I’ve only heard about a third of the album, but the two compliment one another so well, because the live performances are so different, that when you’ve heard the original you appreciate the simple beauty of the piano, and when you’ve heard the live version, you appreciate the layers of work in the original. It’s a great buy, and Immi is so charming and personable. During one of the songs (I’m not telling you which one, you’ll have to find out for yourself), the sound actually stops working, and as she is known to do, she just begins improvising to fill the time. As I’ve mentioned, there are also two Question and Answer portions where she takes questions from audience members and always keeps everyone laughing.

The album also features three B-Sides from iMegaphone, one called Leave Me To Love, with some really awesome lyrics, particularly in the bridge (I think Immi conciously chose to use every curse word she knew in the first verse of this one), another called Blanket, an Urban Species song that features Imogen, and so she sings the rap. The last B-Side, Kidding, is the only official recording of the song.

So yes, it’s on Imogen Heap’s iTunes page, the title is iTunes Fesitval: London 07 – Imogen Heap: An Evening With I Megaphone.

I also downloaded the Marilyn Manson single Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand). It’s a really good song, and while Manson’s vocals can be a little monotone, the song still has some great energy to it, and feels a little symphonic, along with some great guitar riffs. The song is also featured on their album Eat Me, Drink Me.

The reason I want Marilyn Manson’s greatest hits collection is similar to why I might like to have Tori Amos’ Tales From A Librarian, because it kind of wraps up one era and allows a new fan like myself to start with just a few albums to try and digest rather than listen to all 10 or more of them immediately and try to handle them all. It’s disrespectful to the work to just give it a listen through and then move on to another album, an album represents a specific point of a musician’s legacy and all of their efforts coming to fruition in one creation that shouldn’t be tossed aside lightly to buy all of the other albums. And for me, I’d then be left with an overload of music, and probably wouldn’t be able to appreciate it all.

So, as I was saying, I want Marilyn Manson’s Best Of collection (like Tori Amos’ compilation album, it’s not just a list of singles, but an actual collection that’s put together with love and respect for the music) is so that I’ll narrow my list of Manson albums to investigate down to two rather than 10 or more, Eat Me, Drink Me, and The High End of Low, their newest album. And then, I can decide which of the albums prior to the Best Of collection to investigate. It also seems to me that most if not all of Marilyn Manson’s albums are concept albums, and I think concept albums are great.

I downloaded two songs from Tori Amos’ A Piano: The Collection, both because I wanted a version of Precious Things that sounded more stripped down than the others, since that was the way I first saw it, and because I probably won’t be getting A Piano: The Collection any time soon, so I got the two songs I wanted from it the most. One is an alternate version of Precious Things, and one is a song called Merman (the one on A Piano is called the B-Side Version, so I assume it must be different from the regular song). Merman is apparently dedicated to Matthew Sheppard, it may have been written before then, but I’m told that Tori dedicated to the memory of Matthew Sheppard.

I could do an entire blog about Matthew Sheppard, because I just finished reading Judy Sheppard’s The Meaning of Matthew, detailing Matthew’s life, his death at the hands of two homophobes, the trials of his murderers, and Judy Sheppard’s career as head of the Matthew Sheppard Foundation, public speaker, advocate for hate crime legislation (which, thanks to Obama, has been passed), and LGBT rights advocate.

When it comes to dealing with things like this, I’m internally divided because a part of me knows I will be heartbroken if I open myself up to it, and that’s the reason why I got The Meaning of Matthew almost a month ago and just now finished it, I can’t just read it for entertainment, it’s emotionally draining, but the book really helped me to feel closer to God, and to appreciate my blessings, and to understand that steps must be taken to help those who are oppressed. We live in a time where LGBT people, young and old, are taking a stand for our rights, and I personally need to be more involved.

So, for right now, that’s all I’m going to say about Matthew Sheppard, not because he doesn’t deserve every bit of our time, in fact he deserves much more than just a mention in this blog, but it’s hard to know exactly what to say and how to be respectful of Matt’s memory, and I just want to remain calm and do a silly little “here’s how I’m doing, listen to this music” blog tonight. But I do recommend that anyone who doesn’t know about Matthew Sheppard’s murder educate themselves by going to matthewsheppard.org or by buying the book, or both.

Merman is dedicated to Matthew Sheppard, and it was one of the two Tori Amos songs I downloaded from iTunes, as I mentioned. I also downloaded Evanescence’s newest song, Together Again, the first official release since their 2006 album The Open Door. As good as Amy Lee’s voice was before, it’s about 10 times better now, which is really something. The song is very Evanescence, but it’s new Evanescence, it’s similar to their past work, but it has a more real feeling to it that isn’t quite so electronic.

Finally, I downloaded IAMX’s My Secret Friend EP. My Secret Friend is a song by IAMX, the solo project of alternative rocker Chris Corner,who Imogen Heap admires and seems to have quite a crush on. I think Chris might be gay though, which is great because he has an awesome voice and I like the we have him on our side. He really gives me hope though because he has a gorgeous falsetto, and I’ve always wanted to use my falsetto voice a lot, but felt that it might sound silly or bad, but if Chris can do it, I really feel a lot more empowered. I was already going to use my falsetto voice anyway, but Chris Corner just added more fuel to the fire. So, there we are.

My secret friend is a pretty addicting song, I actually had already downloaded the album version on IAMX’s album The Kingdom of Welcome Addiction, but the radio edit featured on the EP is a little different, and I actually prefer the intro to this one better because it features both Chris Corner’s gorgeous high notes, Immi’s vocalizing, and the piano accents which add a lot to the song in my opinion. The song is really more of a duet than it is IAMX featuring Imogen Heap, he sings the first verse and she wrote and performs the second, and the two sing together on the chorus in the finale, while Immi does the bridge. There’s a remix of it on the EP which I haven’t listened to enough to give you an opinion on, but from what I’ve heard it sounds pretty good, though I think I prefer the original. Finally, there’s the third remix, which is very unique.

The third remix is called The Unfall (Broken Waltz Rework). I think Imogen put this one together, I believe she talked about turning an IAMX song into a waltz in one of her vBlogs, so I can only assume she was responsible for this, but even if Chris did it himself, I know she at least had the idea to do it for one of his songs. What I like about this is that isn’t a remix in the sense that we usually think of remixes, it’s what I actually think should be on an EP, an alternate version of sorts. Chris sings the entire song in a higher octave, showing off his beautiful falsetto, and it really makes it unique from the original, as oppose to placing a different backing track to the same vocals like most remixes do.

Which brings me to a point I’d like to make about my musical endeavors: I like EPs, but the problem is that I don’t really like remixes. With Lady Gaga, there have been a few notable exceptions, and not all of her remixes are bad, but some are just awful, and it’s really silly how people place bad techno music underneath a good song, speed it up some, and then call it a remix. What I want to do if I ever release a single EP, is to have the single EP be all the same song, but different versions of it. For instance, the first would be the album or radio version, and the next 3 or 4 would be alternate takes of it. Like one could be a rock version, one could be a symphonic version, one could include electronica, and one could be more acapella, one could be a live version with a choir, the possibilities are endless.

Another idea I’d like to do with a single EP is to have other bands or artists do covers of the song, so that the first song on the EP would be the original song, and the next 4 or 5 would be covers. Like if I released an EP of a song, and there were covers by My Chemical Romance, Imogen Heap, Tori Amos, Dolly Parton, and, let’s say, Lady Gaga. I know the five of those people are shooting a little high, but it’s a hypothetical situation, let me live my dreams the way I want to!

So, when I release a CD single, I want to make it something unique, and put alternate versions, covers by other bands, or other bands who draw from it and interpret it into their own spin-off, or other artists or bands who make a sequel to it, there really are plenty of things you can do with it.

So, that’s the money I spent on iTunes. At first, I was torn, because I couldn’t decide whether to buy Imogen Heap’s album on iTunes or to order Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy. I knew about this before, but I hadn’t really given it much of a chance, I somehow ended up listening to the preview of Don’t Be Afraid, the battle theme from Final Fantasy VIII, and thought it was incredible live, and upon further review of the other tracks, thought it seemed like a very good album. It’s a live performance of music from the Final Fantasy series with a full orchestra, and it’s pretty awesome. There’s another album called 20020220 or something like that, some name that doesn’t make a lot of sense other than that it’s symmetrical, and it’s a similar album, but this is my pick for the moment, from what I’ve heard of the two the orchestra in Distant Worlds is just better in my opinion.

It’s late, and I want to watch Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report, so I hope you all got something from this blog. Goodnight everyone, have a blessed day, tell someone you love them; love yourselves and one another.