From the recording Chiaroscuro

The last phrase came a long time ago and I thought it was going to be more of a chorus. As the song started forming, though, it moved in a different direction. It needed to be the final statement. There’s a Tori Amos song called “To the Fair Motor Maids of Japan”. It was recorded during the making of “Boys for Pele” in 1996, but not released until the 20-year anniversary of the album. It was beautiful listening to this gem of a song 20 years later and feeling like I had been transported back to when I first fell in love with Boys for Pele. I could have been 17 again listening to that song. As an aside, one of my favorite things about music is a song’s ability to be a mini time machine. Play me most any song, and I will tell you where I was when I first heard it. Who I was with. I can even smell that room. One of the things I love most about Tori’s songs in particular is that, while lyrically and sometimes musically, the songs can be nebulous, esoteric meanderings, there is almost always one line of clarity that cuts to the essence. “Motor Maids” is one such song. After she sings “and let’s not forget that seafoam suit she put you in to watch the greyhounds. Sure they run real faster than you ever could, or will, say good-bye to the fair motor maids of Japan. You may know you’re dour you said, ‘we’re dead, not sleeping’” there’s this millisecond of a pause and the clarity comes: “The things that I would go through to turn you back around…the things I would turn into to turn you back to me again.” I think about that idea…of turning into something else just for the sake of holding onto someone. It’s dangerous, that level of desperation. “I’ll be whatever you want me to be, just as long as you will stay.” I’ve observed that in a couple of love interests over this past year, and, frighteningly, in myself as I’ve tried to turn into whatever they wanted. I don’t even think they knew what they wanted. When it was just the two of us, he was sweet, fun, and interesting…I noticed, when other people were around, he became someone different. Sarcastic, biting, shallow, critical, and sometimes trying so hard and saying things that I don’t think he really meant or would ever say with just me…I guess what is so off-putting about that is that then I go back and I don’t know any more who that person is. So which one am I getting? The counterfeit? Or the one who would turn into anything? Which one is the real you? And then I watched them try to turn into anything as they went after other people. He always said he didn’t care about what other people thought…To be fair, so did I.


So, what if I go back
to believing in
the difference between what is
and what it could have been
then I would be convinced
that it was only him
faking as I bled my way to bliss
and I said you know
I did it all for you
Still, in his defense,
he never could admit
that I was a kaleidoscope
dressed in the latest trend
but beauty can’t forgive
the cicatrix you left
when you shaved every hair off of your chest
for him and you know
I did it all for you
and I would do it all again
In spite of knowing everything
would come to the same end
but it’s coming up roses and
how could I resist a light like his?
oh yeah, it’s twisted, isn’t it?
And I said you know,
oh I did it all for you
Reminisce, but it
was only in my head
“A bargain at full price,” they said,
“it’s the cost of admission.”
But how could I forget
that Simon never said
to beg you with both hands behind my back
and I said you know
I did it all for you
the apple of my eye
the only one I ever loved
the only one I left behind