Patron Blog #5: Watching My Every Sound

It’s been a bad few days. Come to think of it there are many ways in which it’s been an altogether bad few months, I would be tempted to say 2016 was a bad year like everyone else has been saying, and no doubt much of it has sucked. But I did spend the majority of the year in a safe home, even if I just couldn’t make it work in the end.

The depression has been REALLY bad for the past week or so. About a week ago I spent several hours sitting on my bed, listening to some of my favorite sad songs in Audacity, slowing them down to play at 0.70x speed. There was this hot pain in my chest and stomach, and I wondered if I was going to be sick. It was grief that I felt. I don’t know what I was feeling grief for. Maybe for my hope. Maybe for my life in Delaware. Maybe that in the end I’m back here, jobless and living with my mom, with no goals in sight.

I thought about college and how I never got to live my dreams there. I never got to live in a dorm room with a roommate who shared the same room, and do all those silly roommate things, and become friends with him. I never got to make lots of friends and be part of big groups wrapped in blankets watching movies in the dark. I never got to have dramatic breakups with boys on campus, and fuck three guys at once while trying to keep it down in our room. I never got to go to class in my pajamas, to stay up studying.

I just… sat here. Sat here and got fat and got diabetes, and my testosterone dropped to dangerous levels and my viatmin D failed me, and my depression got deeper, and the depression meds made my hard cock go soft, and my eyes drooped and fell, and I sank and sank and sank. Sank into mud, into the earth, into a warm well of sadness and sat at the bottom and looked up defeatedly at the sky above.

I’ve tried to write. I’ve failed the last couple of days. I mean, I wrote. It’s not even that bad. But the inspiration wasn’t there. I waited too long to write. I keep trying to push through but there’s so little to work with there. I can write the scenes just fine when I’m speaking them aloud to myself in the shower. But on the screen when I type… I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I don’t know about anything. I got angry at my sister and slammed on my breaks in the middle of the road and told her she could shut the fuck up or get out of the car. I was so ashamed of myself for pulling such a white trash move. I felt like my mother.

My mother is near, and she sucks my soul from my being, like a vampire. I’m so empty, so empty, so empty.

So empty.

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The Top Ten Worst Tori Amos Songs

Grrrrrrrrrrrrl

With any good artist, there are experiments. Sometimes these experiments are great, and sometimes they suck. Tori Amos has been experimenting her whole career. This worked very much in her favor for her first few albums. However, as she progressed, she got more and more experimental, and in my opinion, she left the area she was talented in (singer-songwriter music, with a lot of amazing piano and minimal production) and moved into an area in which she is absolutely horrible (electro darkwave techno with ridiculous lyrics that are entirely indiscernible and probably mean nothing). Tori is one of my favorite musicians in history, and definitely one of the most talented human beings to ever express themselves musically. However, over time, her music just became bland, uninteresting, and had less and less substance. Her first four albums are goldmines of meaning and passion. I don’t mind crazy lyrics or screeching, because my favorite album is Boys For Pele, where she did plenty of that. But beginning with her fifth album, every single record she’s put out has been about 12 to 13 tracks of total drivel with 3 or 4 moments of complete genius thrown in.

As such, there are technically a lot more terrible Tori songs than great, but the great ones more than make up for how atrocious the bad songs are. I think the most puzzling thing about Tori’s path in music is that she began to adopt this freaky singing accent that she never had before, and now she just seems to “ooh” and “aahh” every single word in a creepy warble that is neither appealing to the ears or touching to the spirit, the way her first few albums were. I love Tori to death, but after album four, her career just began a downhill slide into absolute madness, with, as I said, moments of genius thrown in here and there. In my opinion the last good record she produced was American Doll Posse, which was itself kind of an assault on the senses and began her trend of over-producing her music to the point that it’s barely music anymore and more of a cloud of nonsense noises amongst ridiculous lyrics that cannot have any real possible meaning. I hate the songs I hate as much as I love the songs I love, and here at the ten Tori Amos songs I hate the worst. Though I could list some obvious choices that fans are known to hate, like Ireland, Cars with Guitars, or maybe the rest of the Beekeeper but for a few tracks, I’m including songs I’ve actually listened to enough to hate. For instance, I’ve listened to the song The Bekeeper twice, and I hated it both times, but that’s not enough listens to really merit me hating it. These are the songs I’ve suffered through for no clear reason, hoping to find some good in, but ultimately coming up completely flat.

Tori Amos - Librarian

10. Angels
“They’re Trapping Angels by the Potomac, but it’s not how you think you’d be surprised. They Liberate
your Dreamscape…”

My first Tori Amos album was Tales of a Librarian. It seemed like a career retrsospective would be a good place to start. I didn’t know at the time, however, that not only were the song choices pretty bad, but the remasters butchered the original versions of the songs. However she threw in a couple of new tracks that were so terrible it made this mess of a “Greatest Hits” album even worse. Angels is the first of these. The album starts strong enough with Precious Things, but then dives face first into Angels, a boring track with a lot of good intention and well-meant lyrics about the destruction of the Native American peoples land and culture. However, it’s just a boring song that goes nowhere.

Tori Amos - Tales Of A Librarian

9. Snow Cherries From France
“All that summer we traveled the world never leaving his own back garden. Girls I didn’t know just what it could be, oh but he let me go sailing.”

The other new track included on Tales of a Librarian was equally as dull as Angels. I think this is some kind of song about liking a boy as a kid, or something? Something about a bike, and pretending sailing around a back yard? It’s just a snooze fest, and a really atrocious way to end a badly made retrospective. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry, it’s that dull.

Tori Amos - Photos23

8. Tear In Your Hand
“All the world is, all I am, the black of the blackest ocean, and that tear in your hand, all the world is danglin’ … danglin’…danglin for me darlin.”

I just don’t get this song. I know, she mentioned Neil Gaiman for the first time, I know it’s from that holy grail of Tori albums, the great Little Earthquakes. But I just don’t get this song. Nothing happens in it. The whole acoustic guitar thing, coupled with the whole major key thing, along with the whole this-song-has-meaningful-lyrics-that-are-lost-in-the-lackluster-presentation thing, just kill this for me. It’s one of the only bad spots on her first album.

China+Tori+Amos

7. China
“China, all the way to New York, maybe you got lost in Mexico.”

And here’s the other one. I can’t believe this was ever released as a single. This song is overly long, goes nowhere, and is a painfully slow, monotonous ballad about silverware and traveling the world and something about feeling distant and blah blah blah. It’s like Tori tried to write a pop song, and as we know, she is not good at writing pop songs. It feels boring and inauthentic.

Tori Amos - Photos14

6. Sweet Dreams
“Land land of liberty we’re run by a constipated man. When you live in the past you refuse to see when your daughter comes home 9 months pregnant…”

She just can’t do major keys. It’s like she tried to do a strong folk-ballad and out came… this. It’s a song about political corruption, but it’s just stupid. The president is constipated, and how can he have sweet dreams when he sucks at running the country? I get it Tori, but could you maybe make this song less boring? It’s a happy diddy, so why I do feel like stabbing forks into my ears?

Tori Amos - Photos15

5. Bliss
“Steady, as, it, comes, right, down, to, you, I’ve said it all…”

This one just gets to me. It’s like, one of her more popular songs. And I don’t understand why. It’s at this point that Tori began experimenting with, shall we say, shitty musical choices that did not suit her whatsoever. Also, the lyrics that were already cryptic just began to become outrageously stupid, to the point that I don’t even want to try and interpret them. She killed a monkey, or something. Also, the word is bliss. Not “blee-hees.” This is also when she began to sing with a freaky nonexistant accent and enunciate everything incorrectly. I’m all for creative freedom, but could the record company please have said to her, “Tori, redo these vocals so they don’t sound like a dying chicken.” It would have helped.

Tori Amos - Photos20

AND NOW, AN INTERMISSION

How to pronounce words the way Tori Amos does

A Normal Person: “Apple.”
Tori Amos: “Aye-pu-hull.”

A normal person: “Disgrace.”
Tori Amos: “Dee-hee-hee-ssss. Guh-ray-hee-sss-uh.”

A normal person: “Antidisestablishmentarianism.”
Tori Amos: “Cats… ice cream… Jesus cones…”

A normal person: “Zebra.”
Tori Amos: “Zee-hee-buh-ruh.”

A normal person: “Girl.”
Tori Amos: “Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrllllllllllllllllllll-HAH!”

A normal person: “Seventeen.”
Tori Amos: “Sey-hey-hey-hey-ven-tee-hee-heeeeeen.”

Etc. etc. etc. ad nasuem.

WE NOW RETURN TO YOUR PREVIOUSLY SCHEDULED COUNTDOWN

Tori Amos - A Piano (D)

4. Ode To My Clothes
“Somewhere in the hills of Ireland, there’s a Prada bag. And somewhere down the lane, there’s a dog in Gucci lace.”

Ah, we’re getting into the real shitty shit now. Some songs are just pointless exercises in pointlessness. Tori got bored and wrote a song about prada bags and her favorite shoes. That’s it. No hidden meaning. No representation of materialism versus spirituality. Just… prada bags, shoes, and clothes. That’s it. Nothing else to see here.

02l

3. Battle of Trees
“I’ve dodged bullets, and even poisoned arrows, only to be felled by the blade of a vowel.”

Beginning with The Beekeeper, every Tori album has become excruciating to listen to from beginning to end (they tend to be something like 45 tracks apiece, each with about 12 extraneous 1 minute songs about how excited she is to sing the next song, in the voice of some character or another). This one really kills the already slow and monotonous pace of Night of Hunters. It’s like… about speaking to trees, or something? And it goes on for nine fucking minutes. And she says the words “battle of trees” in there somewhere. It’s just… ugh.

Tori Amos - American Doll Posse (2)

2. Posse Bonus
“This is your posse bonus, this is your extra, this is your posse bonus, ’cause I like you. Because I like you, ’cause I like you, porcupine…”

This song almost get number one. This is literally a song that is informing you that the next three tracks are bonus tracks included on the album. That’s actually what this song is about. “This is your posse bonus, ’cause I like you.” It’s just a song about how you got some bonus tracks. It’s a waste of time and it hurts my soul to hear it. You may also free to include the stupid transitional songs like Devils and God, Programmable Soda, etc. in here. I do, however, enjoy Fat Slut. I don’t know why.

And finally, number one…

ANY SONG FEATURING NATASHYA HAWLEY, a.k.a. TASH AMOS, a.k.a. TORI’S DAUGHTER

INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO…

03

1. Cactus Practice, The Chase, Promise, Holly Ivy and Rose, Job’s Coffin, etc. etc.
“Watch me change to a grain of corn
A grain of corn?
Hear the alarm in your head
I’m the hen, black and red
And you’re in my barn
They would have won
Use your head or you’ll be dead.”

or my personal favorite pretentious lyric to hear come out of a ten year old’s mouth:

“There is a grid of disempowerment.”

Let me explain why these songs are so bad. The first reason is that they’re cheap shots. Rather than invest time and effort into composing your own song, you use the fact that your whole fan base knows you tried for years to unsuccessfully have a baby, suffered miscarriages and tremendous loss and heartache, and milk that sympathy by putting your very talented daughter (who unfortunately mimicks her mother’s horrendous new singing accent) into a song that is probably meandering and going nowhere, so that all your fans will like it and say “Wow, she’s come so FAR from those Choirgirl days!” We get it. Tori has suffered a lot. That’s why we LIKE her, guys. But you can’t defend every terrible album just by saying “Well she’s been through so much and I’m happy that she’s happy now!” I am too! That doesn’t make her shitty new music less shitty!

But I digress. Tash is actually a very talented vocalist. This clashes greatly with Tori, who is not only mostly untalented vocally at this point, but who also autotunes the shit out of her voice. Everything that escapes Tori’s lips is layered ten times, with her screechy harmonies in the background, while Tash’s voice is raspy, pure, and unedited, and quite beautiful. Tash being in the song just serves to point out how bad Tori has become. In Holly, Ivy, and Rose, Tash, who I believe was something like ten years old, sounds better than her mother. Then there’s the whole Night of Hunters album, where Tash, among other people, outshine Tori at every ocassion. The most pretentious of these songs are The Chase and Cactus Practice, which might actually be interesting songs if not for Tori’s horrible screechy cat-lady voice. Tori, just write music for Tash and let her sing it, or don’t invite her in, because she outshines you.

Tori Amos - Photos21

And in summation…

As far as I’m concerned the fiery-haired goddess is gone. She has been replaced by an insipid shell of her former self who seems to be genuinely happy in her life, but has her head so far up her own ass that she has lost all meaning. She butchers her old songs (the whole Gold Dust album was awful, despite the fact that the orchestrations were beautiful), writes horrifying new music, and puts out whole albums that are such an assault on the eardrums that they’re quite genuinely unlistenable. To this day I’ve never heard half of the tracks on Scarlet’s Walk, The Beekeeper, Abnormally Attracted To Sin, Strange Little Girls, To Venus and Back, Night of Hunters, Midwinter Graces, and especially not her new album Unrepentant Geraldines (those most pretentious album title EVER).

Tori once delved into deep spiritual worlds, pulled out the darkness and bled to death on stage for all to see, pouring out her soul and her pain and offering shelter and comfort to the listeners who needed it, me being among them. But now, her music has become a sad, sad tribute to what she used to be. She needs to just start making instrumental albums, because her talent for lyric-writing and singing have disappeared, but her fingers still press the keys of the piano perfectly. I stopped wishing for a good comeback a long time ago.

I know that’s kind of a sad note to end on, but it’s how I feel. I still love Tori’s music, it will always have a special place in my heart, but it seems that the raging inferno of talent has cooled to a still lake of boredom and monotony. Oh well, at least Kate Bush is still making good music.

My Top Ten Albums By Play Count

or

You Are Who You Listen To

The following are my top ten most played albums according to their play counts in iTunes. I would preface this by saying that these are not necessarily my top ten favorite albums of all time, and not all of them are, but some of them are in that category. The rule I’ve given myself here is that there can only be one album per artist, otherwise this list would be entirely comprised of Tori Amos and Lady Gaga. I know, what a gay stereotype I am, right? Well shut the hell up, I like what I like.

Who Killed Amanda Palmer

by Amanda Palmer

Total Plays: 137

Most Played Songs: Astronaut, Leeds United, Have to Drive, Guitar Hero

Amanda Palmer is one of the most underappreciated artists in the music industry. Though she has an extremely devoted fan base, she’s never received any radio air time that I’ve ever heard, but she is far and away one of the most incredible feminists, free thinkers, and musicians of the modern era. Her first solo album is a beautiful mixture of genres, from the tragic opening story of an Astronaut whose limbs fall to the beach as his wife watches in horror after his shuttle explodes to the upbeat diddy about rape and abortion, and an incredibly emotional song about finding a dead deer in the road, Amanda touches on a little of everything. My favorite kind of albums are the ones that include multiple kinds of songs from multiple genres with multiple perspectives. This one fits the bill perfectly.

Details

by Frou Frou

Total Plays: 147

Most Played Songs: The Dumbing Down of Love, Shh, Hear Me Out, Let Go

If this were a list of my favorite albums, Details would be much higher up, at least in the top three. If I were stranded on a desert island and had to choose a few albums to take with me this is one that would come along. Details is a mystery. When I first heard it I didn’t get it. The songs all blended together into a sort of weird hodgepodge of sound that wasn’t minor or dark enough for me to be instantly attracted to it. I liked Let It Go from the beginning, but other than that I ignored this album for a long time. Then one day something just clicked and I couldn’t stop listening to it. I’d listen to the entire thing from start to finish and then repeat it over and over again. I felt so creative, so alive, as though I’d tapped in to some joyful and bittersweet energy permeating the universe that I’d never felt before. The Dumbing Down of Love was one of the first songs to ever hit me so hard that it was like some kind of emotional armor surrounding me cracked and shattered to the floor, and then that song reached inside of me where it was warm and touched something. I found myself standing alone in a room mouthing the words as I heard it, and understanding how extremely profound the phrase “lover alone without love” could be, sinking into sadness and yet at the same time finding comfort. One of the most magical albums ever made.

The Dresden Dolls

by The Dresden Dolls

Total Plays: 148

Most Played Songs: Half Jack, Girl Anachronism, Bad Habit, Missed Me

If there’s one thing I love, it’s music that can be described using the key words “brooding,” “dark,” or “piano.” The Dresden Dolls’ self-titled debut is a fantastic work of art from start to finish. I still haven’t even listened extensively to the whole album, I’ve only heard the songs Slide and Truce once or twice, but certain songs like Girl Anachronism, Missed Me, and Coin-Operated Boy just get in your head and don’t leave you alone. If this album were a person it would be a disturbed cabaret mime who makes love on stage and murders people in back alleys at night. And it just doesn’t get better than that.

Ellipse

by Imogen Heap

Total Plays: 164

Most Played Songs: First Train Home, Tidal, Earth, 2-1

This album means so much to me. I discovered Imogen Heap when this album had just been recently released, and while waiting to have the money to buy it, I watched all forty video blogs she created about the making of this album. Those video blogs and Imogen’s music gave me the will to pull myself out of a huge rut that my life was in, and because of that, I had the courage to start creating music again, writing again, and I even got out of an unhealthy relationship. If not for discovering Imogen, I don’t know that that would have happened. Ellipse is like a forest: you wander through and you find so many different things that seem to be dissident, and yet they all live happily together and somehow just work. Earth sounds nothing like Swoon, and Aha! sounds completely different than Wait It Out, yet they all go together, and not one song would sound right without having the others around it. Ellipse is an album that’s genuinely a pure expression of one person’s truth from beginning to end, and carries with it a certain energy that finds it way through the songs that can only be described as “soundscapes.” Normally I hate that word because it’s a nonsense editorial cop-out word to make something sound cool, but this is the exception to the rule, because Ellipse is genuinely crafted. Every moment, every tiny sound, every rustling of sheets, banging of radiators, dripping of faucets, and butt slap was meticulously, carefully, and lovingly placed. This may be Imogen’s masterwork.

Far

by Regina Spektor

Total Plays: 167

Most Played Songs: Eet, The Calculation, Laughing With, Folding Chair

It’s kind of funny to me that this one won out over Regina’s compilation album Mary Ann Meets The Gravediggers and Other Shorts Stories, because I remember listening to that one incessantly for days on end. I have, however, had Far for a much longer time, and it’s song are very easy to return to. Far is more of a pop album than any of Regina’s other work, but somehow it still retains her uniqueness, while drawing inspiration from pop but leaving behind the bad qualities of that genre. There aren’t any repetitive choruses or annoying refrains on this album, just a sense of whimsy that manages to find Regina somehow chirping and lilting about subjects from love and humanity to masturbation, alienation, death, hate crimes, and the mechanization of the world. She just has a gift for throwing everything including the kitchen sink into an album and it still working.

ARTPOP

by Lady Gaga

Total Plays: 224

Most Played Songs: Sexxx Dreams, Venus, Do What U Want, ARTPOP

Lady Gaga rocked the entire world with her debut album The Fame, then rocked it harder with The Fame’s companion album The Fame Monster, and reached kind of a peak with Born This Way. Honestly, the first album was general pop music with a little something special infused, but it was more the attitude that delivered it than anything extremely unique. Gaga really upped her game with The Fame Monster, with songs that were big warehouse thumping dance numbers. Born This Way, however, fell mostly flat for me, with a lot of ballads that I’m sure came from the heart but sounded insincere in the delivery.

I had pretty much assumed Lady Gaga was done, and that her best work was behind her when I heard ARTPOP announced, and even then I rolled my eyes and though it was such a pretentious name that there was no way it would be good. My expectations were thoroughly and unpredictably exceeded with what is one of the best pop albums I’ve ever heard. You can open it up to any random track and find yourself instantly pulled in. Almost every single track on the album is a pop masterpiece, though there are some misses: Jewels N’ Drugs is nigh unlistenable and Fashion! seems a little too inside of Gaga’s comfort zone. However, tracks like Sexx Dreams, Venus, and the steady march of the title track can be listened to infinitely without getting boring. Sometimes I have to listen to songs twice just because the first time wasn’t good enough. With a lot of these other albums, the plays took years to rack up, but all of the plays on ARTPOP are fairly recent, since it’s only been out for a year. I look forward to the ARTPOP Part Two that Gaga keeps promising and hinting at.

Animal + Cannibal

by Ke$ha

Total Plays: 288

Most Played Songs: The Harold Song, Cannibal, Stephen, Take It Off, Tik Tok, Animal

I didn’t like Ke$ha at first. In fact, I found her insufferable. She seemed like a Disney star gone total slut, and her music made my ears bleed. Then, and I kid you not this is entirely true, I had a drunken orgy with five other guys while Tik Tok played on the radio throughout the night, and the following morning when I had a hangover, I suddenly “got” Ke$ha. I don’t mean that I identified with her more because of the experience, but for some reason I liked her from that moment forward. I had hated Tik Tok and it suddenly became a total jam song for me, and a few months later I found myself getting ahold of Animal and listening to it on repeat incessantly for days on end. As with Lady Gaga’s The Fame, Ke$ha released a companion EP entitled Cannibal with even more great songs on it, like the incredibly addictive title track and the now classic club dance song We R Who We R. Not to mention that Cannibal’s “The Harold Song” is one of the most genuinely touching songs I’ve ever heard, and I routinely curled into a ball crying myself to sleep with that song playing in my ears during a huge breakup. Ke$ha’s songs aren’t exactly pure insight into the human spirit or filled with lessons about the world, but there’s something so extremely honest about her music, and it comes from such a place of genuine truth that I cannot help but respect it. I am still surprised that this beautiful, glittery young woman has managed to captivate me, but something about pure honesty just touches me, and even if you’re singing songs about getting drunk from a water bottle filled with Whiskey, if you’re doing it from a place of honesty I’m right there with you, drinking and throwing glitter around an empty pool.

Boys For Pele

by Tori Amos

Total Plays: 280

Most Played Songs: Father Lucifer, Not The Red Baron, Beauty Queen / Horses, Caught A Lite Sneeze, Mr. Zebra, Talula

I’m breaking my own rules here because Ke$ha beat this album by eight plays, however many of these songs were included in their original form in Tori’s box set, and if I were to include all of the Boys For Pele songs that I played from the box set, this album would probably come a lot closer to topping the list. Boys For Pele is far and away one of my favorite albums, and perhaps my MOST favorite album, of all time. I didn’t know how to feel about Tori at first: I’d heard of her, I’d heard her cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit, but it was when I saw an unbelievably gripping live performance of Precious Things that I fell for her. Still, I started out on her retrospective collection Tales of a Librarian, which, though a treat for a Tori fan who knows the original songs, butchers the original mixes of every song on the album and nearly unlistenable to anyone who isn’t already a fan. I still wanted to give her a chance though, so when I read that Boys For Pele was the most outlandish of her albums I got it right away. It did not disappoint.

The album opens perfectly. Beauty Queen is slow, like the footsteps of someone in dirty rags, wandering through a field, and then when Horses begins, I’m instantly pulled in, I’m riding with those horses, and it’s cold and wet in the fields of Ireland, and we’re descending into the depths, into hell, into the underworld, into the deepest part of ourselves. Boys For Pele is more than just an album, it’s a journey into the darkest and most secret places that live inside of all of us. Tori speaks to her dark prince in Father Lucifer, she approaches the dark energy with respect and love, she seethes anger into Professional Widow and Mr. Zebra, she delivers heartbreaking and breathless words of sorrow and loss in Caught a Lite Sneeze and Not the Red Baron. She plays the piano as well as the harpsichord, and anything could happen, from a brass band to a gospel choir, taking us deeper into the darkness. In the end we emerge into the starlight of the night with Twinkle, and become lost in reflection. This album is so intense that it is almost draining to listen to, and is very difficult to hear in it’s entirety because there are no, forgive the wordplay, “light breezes” to be found here. Even quick songs like Agent Orange have deep meaning, and there’s not a shallow song in the bunch. Blood is splattered across every song, the pain of a broken heart radiates through each word, and the feeling of being lost in the world, of being the thoughtless and senseless monster that is a living being, is captured here forever.

Into The Woods: Original Cast Recording

by Stephen Sondheim

Total Plays: 352

Most Played Songs: Ever After, No One Is Alone, Finale: Children Will Listen, Lament, Giants In The Sky, Prologue: Into the Woods, Your Fault / Last Midnight

Into the Woods arrived in my life only a few months ago. My boyfriend found it on Netflix and made me watch it. I wasn’t very interested at first, though I enjoyed the humor. In one night we watched the first act, and the following day I watched the second act on my own. I was blown away. I had to watch the whole show again. And then again, and again. I got hold of the music and started listening to it on repeat. Into the Woods is the story of the journey through life. Everything here is a metaphor, and yet the characters are so real. The Witch is in all of us, Rapunzel is in all of us, and The Baker’s Wife are in all of us. Into the Woods is a story of survival against great odds, of moving forward in the midst of deep grief and suffering, and a story that is a rich wellspring of meaning with each listen. I’m really excited to see the movie this Christmas, it just so happened that I discovered there was an upcoming movie adaptation soon after discovering the musical itself. My boyfriend has gotten so tired of hearing music from Into the Woods that he laments ever having shown it to me, but I think it’s one of the greatest gifts he could have given me. Into the Woods resonates with me very deeply.

Lungs

by Florence + the Machine

Total Plays: 1,353

Most Played Songs: Swimming, Howl, Dog Days Are Over, Drumming Song, Cosmic Love, My Boy Builds Coffins, Heavy In Your Arms

The jump from the last album is a staggering one thousand plays, and believe it or not, I haven’t fudged those numbers whatsoever. Between the five different editions of Lungs, I’ve racked up a lot of plays,but even if I were going with the standard edition it would still be far ahead of any other album in this list. I discovered this album in 2010 and have only just now four years later reached a point where I don’t feel the need to listen to it incessantly day after day. Swimming is perhaps one of my favorite songs in the world, among others here, and Lungs is one of the most unique and special albums because it blends many diverse sounds that are all uniquely Florence’s into one album. No two songs are exactly alike, and the lyrics to these songs are pure poetry that would hold up anywhere. Florence manages to have a talent for metaphor that she can still tell in perfect rhythm and rhyme, and she crafts unbelievable songs to fit them. Dog Days Are Over is the most pure expression of joy that I’ve ever heard in a song, Swimming is so inspirational that it seems to have the quality of someone singing to you from beyond Heaven, and Drumming Song is such a pounding and pure expression of desire and longing that it’s like drowning to hear it. Howl is the most lustful song I’ve ever heard, in which Florence becomes a night creature ripping through skin and sinew to reach the heart of a lover, to reach the core of them, to take pleasure and bask in the radiance of pure, warm lust.

This album, along with Boys For Pele and Details are contenders for “greatest album of all time” in my opinion. I doubt I’ll ever play enough songs to match the ferocity with which I listened to this wellspring of music for the first few years. Florence also has the distinction, in this era of her career that I refer to as “the Lungs era,” in which there is literally no song that I don’t like. Not one. I love all of them. There are some I like less, but even the live tracks, the demos, the live performances, they’re all completely perfect, and I wouldn’t change one. Her energy here is one that embraces darkness and light, and they burst forth in a joyful, mournful, sexual, and longing musical embrace that can never be ignored or forgotten.

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.