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"Happy Phantom"- Tori Amos (and Some Thoughts)

Song of the Day

Scene: Erie Winter 2002

I was hanging out with my older sister in her car. We were going to hang out with a few of her friends that day, and possibly just drive around Erie - the Peninsula, more or less. Before we could do any of that, however, my sister had to go to her friend's trailer to meet her. It was the first time I'd ever seen a trailer up close; I'm not saying it was a bad thing; it was what it was. I was kind of fascinated.

However, overshadowing the day's festivities was my period. I was getting it big-time. I had horrible cramps growing up; I went to a religious retreat one weekend and had to lie down on a pew because I was in so much pain ("what's wrong with you? I'M MENSTRUATING.")

I was clutching my stomach, keeled over in the car. My sister had ran inside the trailer and the snow was falling down outside. I was keeping warm near the dashboard, my eyes surveying the collection of CDs my sister had tossed on the floor. One of those was "Little Earthquakes" by Tori Amos.

I picked it up and, after some deciding, put the CD in her player. This song, of all of them, stuck with me the most. It seemed such a gleeful rebuttal to death. It was refreshing, really.

Suffice to say, that snowy and painfully menstrual day, Tori Amos GOT me. One-hundred-percent. It's such a cliche to look back on (angsty teenage girl with cramps relating to Tori Amos in the middle of a snowstorm), but I think that may have been the moment where I signed myself away to Tori Amos uber-fandom for the next four years.

For a while and still somewhat now, I would look back on my Tori Amos days with chagrin and self-deprecation. I was obsessed: I had the lyrics to "Crucify," I fell asleep to the "Under the Pink" album every night, I read interpretations of her songs in my freetime. I was  one devoted fangirl.

However, it's not something I find super-embarrassing anymore. 

I'm glad I had Tori Amos as a vulnerable teenage girl who was struggling with many things. I was kind of a handful for my parents, who rushed me back and forth to therapy and my psychologist until graduated high school. I was pumped full of antidepressants, and became very overweight and sleepy. And it didn't really seem to help my case- I felt guilty about the financial burden I put on my parents, and bad because I looked disgusting, and exhausted ALL THE TIME. I did have friends and whatnot in high school (thank goodness) but I still got my share of insults and traumatic moments. 

However- I had Tori Amos' music, which was the most empowering tool in my arsenal for a while. "Silent All These Years," "Bells for Her," "Bliss," "Strange." These songs gave me faith when I wasn't getting it anywhere else. Plus, I was struggling with my sexuality and God knows that sucks.

I really don't know what I would have done without Tori Amos in that time period. So, even though she's gone on to do some weird things and her fans scare me and I much rather listen to Fiona Apple these days, I've got to give credit where it's due.

Plus, what she does with RAINN is truly inspiring. You know that new Justin Timberlake song, "Take Back the Night?" When I thought of the work charities such as Take Back the Night and RAINN do, I was sickened. Way to downplay something that means a lot to a lot of people, JT.

So Tori Amos: thanks, dawg.*

Tori Amos with her big fan, Mick Foley.



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