I’m going to guess that this is still the most recognized Tori Amos album and also probably, on balance, the overall favorite because of its broad appeal. However, she’s progressed so far since this album that I think I tend to discount it from her discography as much as most discount Y Kant Tori Read. It’s not bad, it’s just so young, so…debut album. I can’t listen to it and not compare it to the rest of her catalog, hearing its warts. The most piano-heavy of her albums it also has most of the songs people associate with Amos: “Crucify,” “Silent All These Years,” and “Winter.” It’s the album where she introduced herself to most listeners and so remains a lot of her social definition.
I don’t want to belabor this point too much, but I didn’t think the album had warts in 1992. I loved it as much as everybody else. It’s only with hindsight informed by what would follow that this has suffered a few dings in reputation in my mind. Still, it’s those dings I’m going to focus on, not because it’s a reflection of how I really feel about the album as a whole, but because everything else has all been said.
First, the lyrics. Especially on the first half of the album. It reads like a first-year college seminar on Women’s Studies. I’m sure these lyrics were revelatory to Amos at the time and they clearly touched a chord with many fans, but they seem so obvious to me. “Girl,” “Silent All These Years,” “Crucify”…these songs all cover themes that aren’t normally covered not because of the patriarchy, I would argue, but just because they’re not all that interesting. (As a disclaimer, I realize big chunks of the world’s men aren’t as open to women’s issues even as much as I am, which is probably not as much as I should be, but still, I find these a little yawny on the ideas front.) The line “Boy you best pray that I bleed real soon” is an exception. Very powerful. There are some other great lyrics, too, like on “Tear In Your Hand” and “Precious Things,” it’s just that so many of the early songs seem obvious and so many of the later tracks are too abstruse.
Second, the second half. “Happy Phantom,” “Leather,” “Mother.” Fine songs, but pretty weak in the grand scheme of things. On their own I’d think nothing of them. The only reason I pay any attention to them is that they’re on a good album.
Third, “Me And A Gun.” I can’t listen to this song. It’s too raw. And I know that’s where its power comes from, and I’m not being critical of it…this is obviously a very meaningful song…it’s just not one I can listen to. I mean, if this were a scene in a movie, it would make the movie X-rated and I wouldn’t be able to watch that either.
Keep: “Crucify,” “Girl,” “Silent All These Years,” “Precious Things,” “Winter,” “Tear In Your Hand”
Like: “Happy Phantom,” “China,” “Leather,” “Mother,” “Little Earthquakes”
Filed Between: Amos’ Y Kant Tori Read and Other Rarities [Bootleg] and Winter single
Song Notes: Below the jump… Continue reading