SONG TITLE: SILENT ALL THESE YEARS
PERFORMER: TORI AMOS
SONGWRITER: TORI AMOS
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1991
COMMENTS: Knowing Tori as we do now, this first promotional single from her first real album may ring weird, that is weird in its normalcy. It is basically wistful, a lament of a probably single mother with a self-indulgent and non-commital boyfriend and a generally unfulfilling life. You might get a different picture after getting the whole classic Little Earthquakes album, but this first impression making track sounds more like the work of maybe a particularly articulate college educated slacker than the twisted chick some of us came to know and love.
Considering this as the first exposure to Ms. Amos' work, the idea that she is exceptionally intelligent and well educated comes right through. It is not because she is dropping names from some philosophy class in the lyrics - indeed she mocks her boyfriend's interest in another girl who has "really deep thoughts." Instead it comes through in the quietly understated refinement of her music. Her days at the conservatory show in the sophistication of her melody and arrangement. Even someone whose education came from the American public (i.e. government) school system could intuit that she's not some Courtney Love who's picked up a couple of chords and thinks she's a musician.
Her musical education, moreover, comes out through honest skill in her songwriting. She's not acting like some idiot out of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (sounds like a law firm, not a rock band): she's not quoting, invoking or playing faux-Beethoven to impress us with how smart she is. She is writing a commercial pop song, with attention to maintaining a good rhythmic flow, strong dynamics, and numerous hooks - starting with the bumblebee piano riff that opens the song.
And, again unlike the ELP crowd, she is using all this skill in the expression of real and complicated human emotion. As the title implies, she is just gaining the voice to enunciate all the things locked up inside, and they've all come pouring out. There is the exasperation and growing contempt for the stupid and unappreciative schmuck boyfriend. There is fear in the bridge ("Years go by..."), and there is weariness. All of this negativity, however, is buffered - even redeemed - by the relief of finally being able to understand and articulate it all.
"So you found a girl who thinks really deep thoughts. What's so amazing about really deep thoughts? Boy, you'd best pray that I bleed real soon. How's that thought for you?"
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