Pretty is never beautiful.
The dark side is not something most people think is inside them.
Some of the most wonderful people are the ones who don’t fit into boxes.
Every place you land in life has a reason and a lesson.
There is value in everybody’s gift. No matter how hard it is to find or how strange it is.
I love being a hermit.
It’s about realizing, painfully, you’ve kept that voice inside yourself, locked away from even yourself. And you step back and see that your jailer has changed faces. You realize you’ve become your own jailer.
You just get so tired of your work being rejected. It was about belonging. It was a time when my individuality wasn’t working for me—or so they said—so I cut it out. Then you realize that you’re not guaranteed anything else but your individuality. You know you can at least wake up with that and your self-respect.
The truth is that anybody who exercises power, whether it is a partner, a government, or a religion, only wishes that the others remain fools.
I was kind of in a place where I needed to find my own fire, because in truth I had been stealing a bit of fire from some of the men in my life. Wonderful things happen when your life falls apart, your personal life, when soul mates come and go. At the time I wanted to roast these boys over the fire, but now I see it quite differently; in a sense it’s given me freedom.
People come in and out of your life. Sometimes for a day, sometimes for longer. And all of them make you what you are. You cant separate these people out of you. They form who you are. Even the ones that you kind of say well you know, I dont know if I wanna be formed by them anymore. But you are in some way. You are. Thats why, maybe, you dont have to look at them so harshly because they have affected you.
Sometimes you dont have to necessarily spend alot of time with somebody to have exchanged alot of yourself and taken away parts of them that become a part of your body map. That sort of become written, tattooed on you in some way. And it cant be seen visibly, but its felt internally.
There are only a few people who really, really know me. The friendship with them is almost holy. To be there when the other needs you, that’s what it is about.
Most people would rather be sheep and have company than stand out on their own with antlers on.
For many years, I shut down that place inside myself that needed to rage, cry, ask questions, and basically just express herself.
I’m a winter girl; I like coming out when things are desolate and everybody’s ready to slit their wrists.
For thousands of years women were not the creative forces, not the Da Vincis, not the Mozarts, just the muses. You really didn’t get a lot of lightning rods that were the women. You don’t hear about the great sonatas written by the great female composers. And of course, they were out there somewhere, but there wasn’t a place for acknowledgment. Now the dam is broken. It was pent up for so long and now there’s a deluge. Suddenly women are the creative forces that we wanted to be for thousands of years.
One day you will open your eyes and see her. –from the sleeve of “Strange Little Girls”
She forgets him utterly and forever. –ditto
All your tomorrows start here. –ditto
I’ll tell you something that I’m very aware of: my work doesn’t relate to the masses. My work is really for the elite. And when I say elite, I mean the mental elite.
I can smell a rat real quick when someone tries to tell me their way is the way. And see, I don’t think my way is the way for everybody.
You just can’t expect someone to see it your way. How are we going to be open if we’re not able to see different perspectives?
You have to remember that I love the nerd. I have a really deep place in my heart because I was one. Not that I’m not one now, but I really understand people who excel in one area but might not feel good when they walk in a room.
I’m the queen of the nerds.
I love being in a skirt and boots. It goes back to the librarian-principal look. I like the idea of carrying books around in a skirt.
The way I see it, the men that I’m with, whoever they are, it’s like, look, you have to accept that I like ice cream, and I know it shows up on my hips but if you can’t accept that, then leave. Go away. Toodles. It is non-negotiable.
I’m a musician first, a food-lover second, a dirty mouth with feet, and a girl last time I checked.
I believe in eating. I think women especially have this fear of eating, and I think there is a whole euphoric plane you can rise to when you have a good meal. You sit down and with every bite you honestly just say thank you.
I played the percussion of Cruel in the shower on my excess fat. It sounded really good—it made me feel good when I’d have that next bag of potato chips. I’d say “Look, Cruel sounds great in the shower. You eat those chips, girl!”
All creators go through a period where they’re dry and don’t know how to get that plane ticket back to the creative source. Where is that waterfall? At a certain point you say, “I’ll take a rivulet.” And you find a place.
I don’t fall in love much; I mean, I fall in love every five seconds with something but I don’t go from boy to boy. I go from archetype to archetype.
There is a level of the vampire in me—which is ok—and then there’s a part of me that’s a nerdy girl who watched her best friend get the guy she wanted over and over again.
I really respect anybody who stands by their truth.
A really important thing I always want to say to young people is that there’s a huge value in—I don’t want to call it failure—but in things not working out well. How’s that? It makes you ... recognize yourself and recognize your weaknesses ...
I don’t think “negative emotions” is an accurate phrase. Emotions are emotions. We can’t look at them as positive or negative, they are what they are. And they are your reality. All you have on your plate is your reality. You decide whether you look at your reality or live pretending these feelings don’t exist. The problem is that eventually these feelings become like that alien coming out of [Sigourney Weaver’s] stomach. And you’re praying Sigourney will walk into the room.
If you call me an airy-fairy new age hippy waif, I will cut your penis off.
I feel like a work really has many sides to it when people have such extreme reactions. When a work is greeted with just, “Oh, you know, it’s nice,” then it’s not affecting people. So love it or hate it, that’s okay. That’s exciting to me.
“Fresh start” is not something I use. It’s a cliché. I don’t want anything to do with it. Everything in my past is part of who I am. There are calluses on your hands.
Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.
... the idea that there’s a consciousness beyond us that can express us itself in a song seems weird to many people. I say, though, how can you not believe that? Especially if you’re an artist, it’s pretty egocentric not to give credit beyond your own talent and intellect—basically that means claiming that you are the sole source of your own inspiration. I don’t accept that. I know that my role as an artist is to provide an opening for voices and stories that go beyond my own small, private existence.
... I’ve always been reticent about the concept of “Happily Ever After.” The garden will have weeds and pests that may damage crops; it may even have pestilence to contend with once in a while. But with the right combination of elements, including bees and butterflies, the garden will pollinate and become a garden—not an emotional wasteland but a place of sensuality and balance. So it may need a good beekeeper; all complex gardens do.
Somebody will come backstage and go, “You saved me.” And I will have to say, “Stop right there. You saved yourself.”
I see the dream and I see the nightmare, and I believe you can’t have the dream without the nightmare.
I’d like to think that my work has multidimensionality. That I can change a pair of shoes in the middle of the song and it’s OK. That there is no structure that says I have to wear the same pair all the way through. As long as I’ve got feet, it’s all right.
Women must understand that simply attacking or hating all men is just another form of disempowerment. A woman has to realize that when she makes a man crawl it doesn’t give her power. All it will do is make her puke eventually. Rather than say all men are bastards, let’s say all men are infants, until they decide to be men. Calling them bastards is boring at this stage.
I refuse to be a victim of not having a wonderful sexual experience again. And you are a victim when you can’t allow yourself to have sexual pleasure again. I refuse to put all men in the same category, as I was doing. When something like that happens you do want to punish men, punish the ones that crushed the flower. But no one should choose to hold onto that hatred. It choked me.
Hatred for men, en masse, is as poisonous a feeling as shame.
What I consider a powerful man now isn’t a guy who has power over somebody or who wants to have power over somebody. For me now, it’s somebody who’s a safe place, where I’d leave my daughter. It’s somebody that’s a good listener. That’s a powerful man.
But when there is an intimacy between two people and one person starts to feel invaded by the other person, that is personalized terrorism. As we all know, the battleground between two lovers, or two friends, or two coworkers, can be vicious. Painful. Heartbreaking. And bloody.
The sense of loss is such a tricky one, because we always feel like our worth is tied up into stuff that we have, not that our worth can grow with things we are willing to lose.
To me, happiness—true happiness—is when you can really dance with sad.
I found a way to dance with sorrow.
I am a real believer in looking at pain and taking it out shopping.
Betrayal happens in strange ways and comes from strange corners sometimes. Some days life can feel pretty normal, so to speak. Then there are other days that make you think you’ve walked into a Hermann Hesse novel.
To have some honest moments is a rarity. We’re not encouraged to really look at what we’re feeling.
Give the kids tools, so they can go build their own houses; not the blueprint of what the houses should be.
I quickly realized that I had some kind of calling. But, just as quickly I realized that what was most important to me was following my own path—and not the one that was laid down by others.
… when you are thirteen, you don’t want to be faced with a pitiful smile all the time. So I began to destroy the part in me that is actually creative. Instead, I became very cynical, disguised myself to become popular, to be loved by everyone. But actually that was nothing else than a game of hide-and-seek. You can be a bigmouth without having anything to say. At that time, I definitely only had the wish to be an in-chick. Today I know that you should have your own thoughts and that you have to stick to your point of view.
I was raped once and thought at the time I was going to die. I didn’t think I was going to make it out of there alive. The idea that I hadn’t had the chance to tell my mother goodbye was the thing that really kept me thinking and focussed and saved my life. Anger in that sort of situation doesn’t work. Anger is not what gets you out.
I was kidnapped and sexually violated. You feel like your boundaries have been crossed to such an extent that there is no law anymore, that there is no God. You feel like the Mother in you will do anything to protect the child in you from being shredded before your eyes. You’re thinking “I gotta get out alive, I gotta get out alive.” With Me and a Gun, I hope that attackers as well as victims are listening. As well as judges, as well as lawyers. I want you to taste in the back of your mouth what it was like to be in the car with that pervert.
I’ll never talk about it at this level again, but let me ask you. Why have I survived that kind of night, when other women didn’t? How am I alive to tell you this tale when he was ready to slice me up? In the song I say it was “me and a gun” but it wasn’t a gun. It was a knife he had. And the idea was to take me to his friends and cut me up, and he kept telling me that, for hours. And if he hadn’t needed more drugs I would have been just one more news report, where you see the parents grieving for their daughter. And I was singing hymns, as I say in the song, because he told me to. I sang to stay alive. Yet I survived that torture, which left me urinating all over myself and left me paralyzed for years. That’s what that night was all about, mutilation, more than violence through sex. I really do feel as though I was psychologically mutilated that night and that now I’m trying to put the pieces back together again. Through love, not hatred. And through my music. My strength has been to open again, to life, and my victory is the fact that, despite it all, I kept alive my vulnerability.
How does a woman re-connect with her own body after rape and not associate sex with violence? That’s the core problem.
And if God did send his “only son,” which is a joke: “only son”—it’s like, so, he picks a certain race and a certain kind of color to be his only son and yet created all of us. No, that’s not gonna happen. That’s how the story goes but I don’t believe the story.
I was taught a belief system where there wasn’t really any room to discover my own belief system.
But when you’re 14 years old, and you don’t know what your beliefs are, you’re taking on everybody’s beliefs around you and you’re making them yours. And I’m not about the institutionalized Church. At all.
But what we’ve been taught to believe is that God, whether in Christian or Judaism or Islamic or many of the others, it’s a very male, patriarchal system. And you know, this patriarchal system hasn’t done so great in the last few thousand years. I mean, I don’t know how we can say that it’s succeeding. I think that we’ve gotta kinda look at really where we are. Things aren’t getting better.
From very early on, I’ve seen how Christians can manipulate people by manipulating Jesus’s message, but I’ve also known loving people within the Church who walk the path of compassion. Either way, I can’t fully get away from Christianity’s influence, and I don’t want to get away from certain aspects—the message to love your neighbor as yourself, the idea of resurrection—those aspects of Jesus’s message. Many people believe in those principles though they are not practicing Christians. The truth is, I believe that if Jesus were alive today he would not be a member of a Christian church, because hypocrisy is at the center of many a church’s crossroad.
I’m the thing that fundamentalist Christians cringe over. Mothers drag their daughters out of my shows. Because their daughters are going, “Hey, maybe I don’t have to think about these things. Why am I worshipping some dead guy?”
Usually they sprinkle a few drops of water on your head; in my case they held my head under for thirteen fucking years.
I find it very interesting that every time I turn around, someone wants to save my soul. Isn’t that arrogant?
I refuse to simply accept God’s will. I receive a lot of letters from women who write that they’ve been raped by their father for years, from the time they were little children. Then don’t start insulting those women, especially not while I’m around, by saying that it’s God’s will. And I don’t need to hear that it’s karma either.
You hear stories about angels that come and save certain people, they’re beautiful stories. But what about the mother whose kid gets taken away and never comes back? What were the angels smoking when that happened? What do you say? That their kid wasn’t worthy? That it’s all for the best? Or God has a plan?
… just to say, “Thy will be done” just doesn’t work anymore. It’s hollow.
The religious thing ... whether you like it or not, if you’re brought up in it it’s going to affect you.
I really really love Christ, but I’m not a Christian.
Most religions are not about humans becoming whole. If people become whole, institutions fear they won’t need them anymore. And, of course, it should always be the wish of a master teacher that the students will surpass him or her. The sad thing is we don’t have a lot of master teachers. Master teachers have to be willing to devote their lives to consciousness. This is a very courageous journey not many people have been willing to take.
God is a misogynist. When you really spend time and look at things God said, if you have a brain on you, you’ve got to raise an eyebrow and say this God is a macho pig. I mean, if Sylvester Stallone said this stuff we’d be giving him a very hard time and he has said some of this stuff and we have given him a hard time—he deserved it. But the point is the Christian god hasn’t honored women. Sorry, the cat’s out of the bag and it’s just not cool so it’s something we have to address.
It’s like, Jesus has got things to do ... He’s not going to fix things for me, I have to fix things for myself, so I try and have a sense of humor about it and nobody finds my humor very amusing. We’ve just got to lighten up on the savior bit, folks. You know, get off the cross, we need the wood.
What Jesus was really saying was “It is within you.” There are things that I would disagree with Jesus about—and I feel really good about that. That’s how it should be. Respect him to go his way and I’ll do my thing. I mean, if you want to go and sit out in the desert for forty days, knock yourself out. But I’m going to go and get some pizza. And I’m not less of a person for it.
Obviously the whole religion is based on God the Father and a human mother, and obviously there was no sperm and she was a virgin. So they’ve taken away what women do, which is carry the seed from a male, and with her egg make life. Well the whole process of what we do, to me, was so lessened by that experience because of the way that men were shamed for desiring women, the whole celibacy thing, the whole thing about making Jesus celibate, the whole thing about women being ashamed to have babies, you know? … So everything was dishonored, I find, by the way they set the religion up.
We all find our own truth in religion, whichever it may be.
I don’t feel the Christian God is the supreme being. I feel there is a divine father and a divine mother and the Christian God is not my fantasy of what that is. I think he’s a fragment, as is to me, Buddha, Mohammed, all of those people. They’re elements, fragments, you know what I’m saying?
Mary was our role model in the Christian Church, and we’re talking about a woman that was a sexless being in the teachings. I think we can both see what that’s going to do to a whole culture. Pieces get cut out so that certain cultures can control it, and what got cut out in the Christian Church was the sexuality and the passion. The shadow side of that was Mary Magdalene, who we’ve always been taught was a whore ... But why did I have to be divided from the two Marys? Shouldn’t it be about balance? It should be about a wholeness, but it’s about division.
For centuries the Church has slammed a crucifix between a woman’s legs and even masturbation obviously is a way of dislodging that cross, of self-empowerment. And how dare anybody say that my honoring my woman-ness in that way, my relationship with my own body and my opening to this energy between my legs is a “sin against God” is “blasphemous.” That was my act of defiance, of asserting myself against the oppressive force of religion which has always made women deny their sexuality. The concept is that Jesus Christ, through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, experienced life—the human form. Well, what I find quite inexplicable is that he could suckle at a woman’s breast yet not soil his dinky by having sex! How’s he supposed to experience life at the level of his dick, for Christ’s sake! That’s the Church’s core denial of sexuality, right there, alongside the idea that Mary could give birth without “doing it.” It’s absurd. So when I say I want to “do it” with Jesus Christ it’s not just that I want to sexualize Jesus, bring him down to our level, I want to breathe the earth into his lungs. He came from Heaven and we, as women, come from the earth. So it’s the idea of soil beneath the fingers, the notion of, “If this blood is sacred, then drink it.” That’s what it’s all about.
People are afraid of what they might find if they try to analyze themselves too much, but you have to crawl into the wound to discover what your fears are. Once the bleeding starts, the cleansing can begin.
I think you have to know who you are, get to know the monster that lives in your soul, dive deep into your soul and explore it. I don’t want to renounce my dark side. The truth has always held an enormous interest for me. Everything is therapeutic, no matter what you do.
If you really want a challenge, just deal with yourself.
History has recorded some pretty nasty things that have happened to people. I think we remember. I think it’s in our cells and I think it can still hurt sometimes.
If you love someone, you’re going to lose them at a certain time. You have to accept that Sorrow will be there. You better make real good friends with her, because she’s going to be there, especially as you get older. And after a while, Sorrow becomes the deepest part of the ocean. You know, there are times that Sorrow tells the dirtiest jokes ... She really does. I think Joy can be really snotty sometimes, too. I think she says, “Everybody wants me. I’m the belle of the Ball.”
I know I’m an acquired taste: I’m anchovies. And not everyone wants those hairy little things. If I was potato chips, I could go more places.
People play games when they’ve got you under the microscope and when they don’t understand something I say or an experience I talk about. They jump on it and try and make it look silly or insane.
We are supposed to be on top of the civilization ... well, if you take a walk in Toys ’R Us, you will know better.
… I tried too much to be everybody’s girl, because I was not able to listen to myself. You just have to be strong and not only pretending. It is simple to play a tough chick, but it is really boring and, above all, it is sad, because it shows a deep uncertainty, and when you are uncertain, you cannot be strong.
But words are powerful; words are like guns. Your fingerprints cannot be erased from your words; you only leave the scene of the crime covered in ink
Words can always hurt and they can heal. Their power is underestimated. I always hear: Well, they are just words, this all is probably not meant that way. But words are weapons. And men know that very well. But they rarely take the responsibility.
Strange Little Girls is about the power of the word. Words are like guns. I’ve never heard so many women being okay with being demeaned. You cannot separate yourself from your creation. You can’t. You have to be responsible for the shit you put out there.
Those that did this wanted to paralyze our souls, and music has always been an instrument of creating little earthquakes inside people, stirring the heart and keeping us from going numb. –on the events of September 11
You can feel it in your stomach. You can walk down Fifth Avenue [in New York City] and smell it. Your senses are filled and the emotion is so raw you have no delusions. I do believe in non-violence ... but I became a warrior mother. How can you be rational with the irrational? You want to see fury? Just wait till the soccer moms start marching. Once the body bags for the children are brought up it’s game over. If you come after my cubs you give up your rights. –ditto
The question is: Are leaders using the tragedy to stir people up, to push that button to go to war? I think that’s the concern of anybody who’s looking outside in. Anytime anybody’s so keen to go to war, it’s always a red light for me, because I’m a person that doesn’t choose violence as my first, second, or the third way out of anything. –ditto
For a woman to be able to say what that says, with that kind of addiction and yet that kind of grace, is just not done. –on her appreciation of Joni Mitchell’s “Case of You”
Whenever a relationship of mine is falling apart I hear this song, usually on the radio. The relationship’s falling apart and I’m contemplating doing something very naughty and on it comes going, “I will always love you, whatever words I say” and I get all sad and weepy and want to get back together with the person I’m with. There’s something about this song. I wish some guy had written it for me. I write all these songs for guys. God, I sound all pouty. I don’t mean to whine, I hate whiners. But no one’s ever written anything for me. They just go, “Write me something, babe.” –on her appreciation of The Cure’s “Lovesong”
It’s about having someone heal your whole life. I’m talking about the times when lines have been crossed by men. Men can be dangerous, like in the song Datura about how sometimes they can bring you gold and sometimes they can be the bearer of poison. The plant datura is a hallucinogen and it’s like men. If you get the right amount you’ll walk into the garden and become a woman, but if too much seeps in the wrong way and at the wrong time—it’ll kill you. –discussing the album To Venus and Back
This is for all you Christians. –before performing “Crucify” at a 1996 concert in Austin, TX
This is for all you tortured Christians. –before performing “Icicle” at a 1998 concert in Las Vegas
The Christians can’t get me for that one. –after saying “smegma” during a radio interview and insisting that it wasn’t a cuss word
I do believe that we all are, fundamentally, divided creatures. Emotions split from intellect, spirit from flesh and far too often sexuality is disconnected from what we feel, and are, as total human beings.
Little Earthquakes is all about celebration. Celebrating the ability to laugh, weep, and scream, particularly if you have been silent for years. And so it’s about celebrating sexuality in the widest sense, including the elements of revenge … Just because I’m with a man and because I’m creaming for a man doesn’t make him a master, doesn’t even necessarily make him worthy of love, of my love. And I now realize, maybe for the first time in my life, that my capacity for love is incredibly deep and that for me to give this to a man he has to fully understand, and respect what that means. Too few do. They’re into pillaging, rummaging around, doing a little Viking stuff! But most women these days realize that’s not enough, boys!
I understood what it was like for the guy, not being able to write. And how he would do anything to be able to write again. And yet, at the same time, what is your work worth when you have no honor as a person anymore? It has to come back to honor, I think, if you work as a writer—nothing is worth losing that.
I always had high expectations of the “sisterhood,” but women can betray each other horrifically. And that’s worse than a man betraying you. Because women touch places that men cannot find.
What girls do to each other is beyond description. No Chinese torture comes close.
The only thing that bothers me is when women are being cruel to other women. They become that way when their inner self is wounded. They’re almost inaccessible. You can always seduce a man but a woman will try to break that force. A woman who’s harsh is like an animal that kills, like a predator.
There are bitches in third grade. The playground is the biggest war zone in the world.
Adolescence is ... the cruelest place on Earth. It can really be heartless.
I can’t gauge my behavior on how people react; it isn’t my responsibility. My responsibility is to say what I believe in and back it up with whatever I’m doing. Whatever anybody else is doing, they can knock themselves out.
I just try to strip myself, peel myself like an onion. At different layers I discover stuff.
I can stay here dry for the rest of my life, and angry, and maybe that anger keeps me alive. But maybe I’m angry because I don’t have love in my life but I am the one who won’t allow love in.
Healing for me is being able to sit next to the butcher and say “Yes, I’m sitting next to the butcher now,” instead of saying “there is no butcher.” Well, there definitely is one! On this record, I try to hold hands with violence. I’m holding hands with him and it’s like “Let’s go get some dresses and hang out together.”
… it’s about all of us going to the places underneath the heart, behind the heart, in the unconscious, where we give our Fire away. We think somebody else has access to “power” or freedom or life force, and we don’t have that except through them or if we know somebody or we get invited to this party.
There’s a real stigma that gets put out on a woman’s anger. You become a madwoman, instead of, “I’m very loose about this moment, and you have just really pissed me off.” I’m trying to use compassion—passion coming into its fullest—so that I can explore these “dark sides” of Woman: the anger, that power, the destruction, the manipulation, the parts that lead to a label of “hysterical” for women, to bring them into balance, the balance of destruction and creation.
His family is like some of those people that show up on Oprah Winfrey sometimes, that you just go “My God, if I had to go home with them, I would contemplate, like, eating Pledge.”
When things get really empty for me—empty in my outer life—in my inner life, the music world, the songs come across galaxies to find me.
I have a creative uterus that gives birth to song. When I’m feeling bad I flee to the music. If I haven’t had my songs, I really don’t know if I would be mentally sane although some people already think I’ve lost it.
You just start going insane. There’s nothing you can do, so you surrender and then...start again.
For some people things aren’t bad enough as it is. And some hang on to the fact that The Most Terrible Thing happened to them; they entered at number one in the charts of pain. And then others are secretly jealous because they’re only at number six.
It’s very much about thinking you were loved for who you were, and realizing you weren’t, and realizing maybe you don’t love yourself ... You can only be you. A lot of times that’s not enough for some people.
I wrote this record because I was trying to fill the void any way I could. After nothing worked—men, food, incredible Chardonnay, shoes—there was no anchor to hold on to, the old ways didn’t work any more. I realized I’d suppressed a lot of sides to myself to be loved and understood by men. I didn’t want to play seductive little girl or ballbuster any more. With this record I played all those roles until I got to my heart. To find your fire as man or woman you have to take your torch and go to the shadows. –discussing Boys for Pele
That record was very much about trying to understand a serious break-up that I had with someone I had been with for a long time. I was trying to find parts and pieces of myself that I had never claimed. I’d been living through other people in my life, particularly the men in my life. So, it was a really tough record, very depressing, but in the end it gave me a lot of strength. It was a real tough journey—one of those where you think you’re going to bite your own arm off. And you just hope somebody is there to put a muzzle in your mouth. –ditto
Well, an emotional work like this is inspired from an emotional place; it’s about stealing fire from the men in my life. I guess I didn’t realize how much confidence I have in certain areas of my life, and so little in other areas. It seemed as though everywhere I turned it was to male mentors or emotional involvements. I became a vampire needing to feed, needing their energy and I didn’t know how to access it. When I was on stage I could, but when I walked off that stage I began to see that the woman was completely divided and segregated from the work. –ditto
These songs are not about make-ups or break-ups. And they’re not concerned about who is sleeping with whom. These songs are about the realization that you and the person you’re with are talking different languages. They’re about recognizing that an extreme kind of viciousness is being played out even as you exchange honeysuckle. They’re about the hidden things that go on in a woman’s heart—the things that are expressed and the things that have to remain hidden. They’re about the breaking down of the patriarchy within relationships and the idea of women claiming their own power. –ditto
This record is truly a story about a woman who descends, who finds fragments in the unconscious to bring back into the light. But I was forced to do this... You’re on your knees, and you make a choice. –ditto
… it was a very emotional album. Y’know, it was about finding my own fire, not through the men in my life, but finding my worth as a woman on my own. –ditto
I had separated them from birth: the girl from the musician. For the most part, Pele is about my response. The women really held the space for me to dive into on this one. My women friends knew that only I could go after this. They would be dragging me back by my hair, going, “Hello? Are you aware of what you just did to yourself?” And I’m sitting here with veins ripped open, licking a little blood from my chin, going, “No!” –ditto
Now, when I say Lucifer, I’m talking about the feelings that we hide from ourselves (not something that’s twisted and evil, like during the Inquisition when they used Christianity to torture people. That’s Satanism.) I had to go in this record when I was trying to find parts of myself that I had not let scream and dance and have a tear. I went to go visit Lucifer to get my talisman, which means my little magic key that took me to the places that I hadn’t let myself go. That’s really about having a little tango, a little dance, with Lucifer. The idea that Dark is not a scary thing if you go in there understanding there is a purity in Darkness. There’s also a lot of distortion in Darkness. It’s a choice where you want to go, and I wanted to get to the truth, not to the drama … keeping me from the truth. –ditto
Blood Roses was the first, and it was that feeling of ripping open your vein and going, “This blood has sold millions of records. This blood can do many things.” And [the men are] like, “Yes, Tori, and this blood isn’t enough for us.” –ditto
… she’s the one that is crawling on her knees, and has given it all away just to be accepted. And has gotten defecated on to the point where she’s in the middle of the stench going, “How could I have let myself be so degraded, how could I have degraded myself by letting certain events happen?” –ditto
… the war has begun. The blades are out. And she’s become a piece of meat in her mind, she’s willing to cut out her voice, she’s willing to “cut out the flute from the throat of the loon, at least when you cry now he can’t even hear you.” It doesn’t matter who the people are, you know, and if you resonate with letting yourself go that far to be needed or to keep something going, well, do you need another pound of flesh? What do you need, what more do you want? And that’s the point when I say, “he likes killing you after you’re dead.” –ditto
Yet so many of these girls will come to me with tears in their eyes and scratches all over their wrists from self-mutilation, and I’ll say, “I actually do understand the obsession to be difficult.” I mean, I was in absolute horror that I allowed myself to be raped. Blood Roses is the on-the-knees version of that, the ripped-open veins and the blood dripping, going, “Why is this my fault now?” –ditto
… to go down in the dark … to visit the real energy force that has held the darkness: you go there with honor. And that takes a very big heart to hold the place of shadow. When I went to Lucifer I learned many things ... A part of her loved Lucifer, a part of her tried to find him in so many men that couldn’t carry his energy ... And I am not talking about Satanism ... that’s the distortion of those who can’t really claim the dark so they become evil because they are not really claiming their shadow. So we claim our shadow …Then we pick up pieces as we go. –ditto
I wasn’t content just being a muse. I was the creative force. I was in relationships with different men where if they could honor that, they couldn’t honor the woman, and if they could honor the woman, they couldn’t honor the creative force. –ditto
… she’s still vampiring, she needs that boy blood. You can say you are beautiful, you are enough; when are you going to claim it? You are on the hunt. He doesn’t give a fuck about you; he might have cared about some parts of you but this is not about you. He doesn’t want to work this out with you, your neediness is disgusting him, and you sit around going ‘oh no, no, no, I’ve gotta have it. It’s out there, he has something.’ Anything to just keep it going. –ditto
I find that sometimes when I’m singing about religious mythology, people are getting their own opinions in there instead of what really happened, like in The Crusades—anything that wasn’t Christian being tortured … it’s truly endless, the control and domination that the institution wielded. The burning of the witches over a period of years, mostly women, and when I wrote Mohammed My Friend, it was mostly about having a cup of tea with Mohammed and talking about the circumcision of the female part of God in every religion. Even Greek mythology: Zeus was the big bad dude; everyone was fragmented; Athena [was] separated from her sexuality but had her wisdom; Aphrodite, who had her sexuality, in truth did not have many other aspects like wisdom… –ditto
I went to Hawaii when I was at my lowest. I was desperately trying to find passion. I had five minutes of wanting to push them [past lovers] over the edge ... If anybody said they’ve never thought about just roasting their lover, they’re a liar.
It’s a tricky thing when you want something from another person, and they want different things from you. And you just can’t be together.
I was separated from my soul mate. Just feeling that shock when half of you walks out—the songs just started coming to me.
… I’m not singing about something that happened in the past. It’s happening in that moment, the revelation of things as they’re coming. The argument as it’s happening. The desire to drag him and just destroy him as it’s happening. Not “let me write a song about what it would be like to destroy...” Wrong! It’s about the feminine side, whether you’re male or female. If you’re really open to the emotional bond, then you can go traveling there. If you’ve crawled, and you allow yourself to remember that you’ve crawled, or that you watched your lover crawl ... You know, men in hetero relationships rarely know what happens when they put down that phone and say “Look, now’s not a good time.” No, now is the time. How many times have you gone on trying to keep things on an even keel instead of saying, “Wrong, I’m doing something to you: I’m poisoning your muffins”?
I was lying there alone, feeling incredibly weak. Feeling like there are not enough sold-out shows, like it doesn’t matter that every American show is sold out, because I’m only alive when I’m on a stage with a piano. The rest of the time I’m just this shell. … it was like, how could we have been so cruel? Because when we started out, there was so much love. Real caring. And I sit here hating someone who I had been head over heels in love with.
But you know that sadness when you know your relationship is over and you’re still alive? You know you’re not dead. You’ve got all your body parts. You’re all there. You’ve got a date. He’s got a new love. And you go on with it.
Sometimes when you really want to write, it refuses to come. Other times when it really isn’t convenient, all this material shows up.
Everything seems to be moving so fast. Tragedies seem to be moving so fast; almost before we are able to ingest one, another one happens. Information travels so fast—but I don’t know if the heart adjusts that fast.
I’ve always kind of cocked my head and said, “Well, I’d love to have a bottle of wine with Sorrow, ’cause I know she’s got dirty jokes.” And when it all goes wrong, Sorrow’s good to have around. There’s beauty and wisdom in the darkness, and illumination.
I’ve always been really fascinated about that part of people, including myself, that is hidden. Some people hide more than others, and it does intrigue me. I write about the dark night of the soul, because I feel I have ticket there—an access ticket like you get to the Underground. I think I have a permanent Underground ticket to the subway ... it’s much cheaper than taking taxis.
Every person is unique. You have to find and respect that unique part in yourself. You can’t expect others to do the work for you. I believe a personality is like a labyrinth where you can make a wonderful journey—and that journey can take a lifetime.
Women shouldn’t deny their dark side. Sometimes those demons are frightening and sometimes they’re beautiful. You’ll have to approach them. Drink a glass of wine with them, take them for a walk on the beach, examine yourself.
When I was growing up, I started becoming very secretive about my thoughts and the sensory world I would go to, because there’s a lot of mind control that goes on constantly, people wanting access: “What are you thinking?” So sometimes I’d have my own defense going, which would be to look them straight in the eye and make them think I killed my imagination. But it’s like, I’ll take control.
Do you ever feel like you walk in a room, and you don’t know why, but you’re just so uncomfortable you’re crawling out of your skin, even though nobody’s touched you, physically? That’s in Concertina, when you feel like you haven’t excavated enough of your different personalities that when one pops up, you’re not sure where it came from, and you try to hack it out of yourself. It shocks you that you could have this kind of fault, or that other people could bring it out in you. –discussing the album “To Venus and Back”
I loved chasing Mexicans; I’d get off on it! They were kind of cute. They thought I was just ready to check into an asylum.
America is the policeman of the world, of course. They point their finger at everybody, but don’t see what happens in our backyards. Our children are killing each other on the streets.
… if you want, you can use it as black being the shadow, being the rhythm, being the holder and the keeper of secrets, not the acceptable material world but the witch doctor who sees what we masturbate to, what we fantasize about—the things we don’t find acceptable about ourselves, that we’re always constantly cutting out but sometimes we get tripped up when we drink too much to keep it down, or we go have an affair with God knows what.
But, of course, women have always been blamed. We see it down the centuries—“if she didn’t have a wet pussy then we wouldn’t have been with her.” Urgh! And they have a woody sitting at the fuckin’ table but they see it as this sanctified, insatiable body part. And women aren’t allowed that—if they do, they become bad.
I don’t know what a shrink would call me. I don’t want to know.
Because Jesus maybe had a sexual encounter with a woman, did that make him less? Was he soiled by it and what does that say about women?
I realized I was still looking to men for acknowledgement, to make it OK. I was a vampire, trying to take their energy, to steal their fire.
Whether mankind or womankind has created what God has become, the point is it’s a very strong force that has divided us within ourselves. I mean, religion has divided the whole planet.
I’m too wacky for most weirdoes. Who am I to judge?
Going to England on my own was an adventure. I was trying to remember—because I spent a lot of lifetimes there and I knew that—I was just trying to recapture parts of myself, my power, my memories.
Voodoo became something different once the Christians came in. Before then, there was an understanding of other worlds we have chosen to disrespect.
I don’t hate men. I give equal time in my hate. It’s acts of people that I hate. Whether they be men or women, it’s their behavior that I hate.
… we always had a saying: “It’s 6 o’clock in the world somewhere” and that means you can have a drink. You know, when you think it’s too early to drink…
You can only have wholeness if you’re willing to look at the Lady Macbeth in yourself. … you have to honor the process. It’s a cop-out just to say that something is depressing. When a woman just blankets a work and says, “It’s depressing,” I’m thinking, “You’re a fucking sham, you have a plastic pussy, honey, it’s a lie!” Honor the process of what a writer’s going through and that can be incredible freedom.
I must tell you that I get challenged every day by situations. Just when I cross a hurdle and get to know a certain landscape, I get thrown into a different terrain where I’m going, “Fuck, my Patagonia gear isn’t right for this and I don’t have scuba gear.”
The concept that there are albums that make you happy and albums that make you suicidal—I don’t live in that kind of segregated world. That’s why being a fierce calm really holds a frequency for me right now.
I think that the nightmares are telling me things about myself that I need to know. And I try to understand what they mean, so I can get to know something more about my soul.
Lionesses are amazing animals, the guys from the family. They do the hunting, make sure there is meat on the table. The men are only laying in the sun playing with their furry balls. I think it’s not very different from the human world, but we leave that aside.
… I love chasing the dark. That which is hidden. I like licking it like an ice cream.
People out there must be told about the self-loathing that follows rape and how it’s the greatest breakage in divine law to mutilate themselves, as I have done.
… the people who influence on a personal level, who turned you on to what artist. Maybe that person is out of your life. Like, there are people I don’t really know anymore who turned me on to, say, Sylvia Plath. It’s strange how I have no idea where this person is, but my life would have taken a different turn if I didn’t have it.
If they keep crashing stuff into the moon trying to find water and then the moon gets pissed off and the tides change and all women start PMS-ing together, you guys are going to fucking regret that. –her prediction of the new millennium
[Amber Waves is] America personified into our sweet porn star, who’s made some choices that she’s got to pay for now. She’s chosen to maybe turn her back on some information, she’s chosen to align herself with certain characters, and there are consequences to that. –on using porn star Amber Waves as a metaphor for the US and its relationship to the rest of the world
When you talk about a man’s emotional life, women will say, “Emotional life? I didn’t know they had one.” But I found that while women have our conversations and our journals, men have their CD collections. If a man breaks up with his lover, or if his best friend dies or if he gets sick and has to go to the hospital, he has a CD to document that time. And when they want to go back to that time, they just listen to the CD.
You really do kind of learn a lot about a person when you watch and listen to the songs that mean something to them.
The world would be different if guys could carry a life inside of them. If they were a house on heels and could feel all that fragility, it would be a totally different world.
That was my role when I was nine—a freak child.
You can’t be the generation in crisis forever. Some people find it hard to hand that over because that means you are getting older and you must acknowledge it. We look at old as a negative. If you do your work on the medicine wheel, then when you’re ready to move to the North, you carry a torch inside you and you become a different force than you were in your twenties.
Wisdom is something that you just don’t have in your teens and your twenties. That’s not what that’s about. You have things that we don’t have, that we carry somewhere maybe, as a memory. But you just have things that we don’t have, and we have to value that. And we have things you don’t have. And how great is that?
A lot of girls are only consumed with their looks and not with the inside, because they notice beauty is rewarded and cleverness is not. Successful women we see on TV very often are pretty models, smooth singers and handsome actresses. Generally these are not the biggest lights of this earth.
Well, with boy blood, you’d show up at the dinner table and you’d try and make sure that your lipstick matched the stains in the corners of your mouth. I wasn’t over it yet. Of course, I was on a quest for boy blood because I was valuing my worth as a woman through the men in my life.
My boyfriends always said “Don’t put your hair up in a ponytail” ... screw them!
What sense does it make to load yourself with drugs so much that you are not noticing anything anymore?
I think I’m a magnet for people who want to be alone with themselves.
There’s just a moment sometimes when I just go, “God, I don’t know if people realize the musical mind that we lost.” I can’t speak of the friend that he was because I didn’t know him on that level. But there was a respect from the music side that I had for him. And I feel like I understood what he was doing. And it would make me smile when I heard something of his. I’d say, “Thank you! For taking me out of this boredom.” And I can’t say that now. –on Kurt Cobain’s suicide
I was burned for a witch in another life I’m sure.
I don’t want to be buried. My Grandmother was convinced I should be burned as a witch and I think that’s probably right, that’s how I should go. I think fire is cleansing and beautiful. So I definitely want to be cremated and not put in a confined space.
You don’t have to justify everything. Being pissed off is just absolutely okay.
Sometimes, anger is appropriate.
I believe in freedom of speech, but if you’re saying stuff just to shock people, and if you don’t believe in it? Then that is what I have an issue with.
Women put a lot of energy into who their man is, what their job is, what stuff they’ve got. But what if you strip that back and try to understand that those are just things? I don’t see a lot of time being put into secrets and shadows and things that live inside our souls—those treasures.
From what I understand, matter never dies. It keeps reforming itself. You don’t get rid of it. Well, I think that that’s very similar to the soul. That you don’t get rid of it. It keeps expressing itself in a different form, whatever those forms are.
This country has Thanksgiving, does the little Disney Pocahontas bullshit, and they don’t really think about, you know, there were 500 (Native American) nations. Every inch of this land belonged to a people. It was genocide. It happened.
The unfortunate thing with American youth or Afghan youth is that if they’re in a place of hate, they’re the same. If only they could see that they’re being manipulated by those who make money out of war—these guys on both sides are going to make more money. When will the youth rise up to how they’re being manipulated? If you and I are honest today, I believe that Allah and Jesus are weeping for their children because both really and truly are about love. You show me love in this. Either side. It’s not about a side. Jesus and Allah are weeping. And if they’re weeping, what do you think their mothers are doing? Everybody has a mother. Even invention has a mother.
Why can you get a gun easier than you can get a driver’s license in some states, and why should that be OK without risking the Second Amendment?
I always believe you have to go to the venom for the antidote.
It’s my belief that you ditch the body and all the stuff that made you then goes somewhere else, but I don’t know where. Although I don’t believe in Heaven and Hell I do believe all our souls go on. Not necessarily on Earth—it’s a vast universe after all. I don’t know how we would reform, but I think we would find matter and consciousness would take root.
It’s all very thief-in-the-night. No one really knows what to say. You go into the emergency room, you think you’re going to be a mum and you walk out empty. It’s all neat and tidy, there’s this potential being in your life and you’re empty—all cleaned up and put back together, but completely shattered. –on miscarriage
By the end of it—once they masks have come down and they see who each other
really is, not the fantasy of who each other is—then, they decide that they
don’t know why... ’cause there’s enough love, but there’s not enough something
else and they don’t know what that something else is. So, they part. And, that’s
why it’s only “A Sorta Fairytale.”
Got a little red line that tells you, boy, where the razor’s been. –Tori Amos, “Never Seen Blue”
With each day now I’m tasting the snow beneath my soul. –Tori Amos, “Om La Bomleigh”
… lily white matricide from vicious words.
It doesn’t leave a scratch so therefore no one’s hurt.
–Tori Amos, “Purple People”
... baby, I’m much stronger than you know
sometimes I’m not afraid to let it show
when will you wake up
I want you more than the stars and the sun
but I can take only so much …
–Tori Amos, “Cool on your Island”
When you got iron veins you can’t stain their pretty shoes. –Tori Amos, “Butterfly”
Got a crack in some strange places. –Tori Amos, “Daisy Dead Petals”
They say … you’ll never be anything
what will you do with your life
that’s all you hear from noon to night …
cause they can’t see what you’re born to be …
they can’t be
what they can’t believe …
they’ll keep the boy spinning in their own little world
tie him up so he won’t say a word…
so afraid he’ll be what they never were.
–Tori Amos, “Flying Dutchman”
Do you know—hey! Do you know? What this is doing to me—
Here in my head.
–Tori Amos, “Here. In My Head”
And I think I could leave your world
If she was the better girl
so when we died I tried to bribe the undertaker
cause I’m not sure what you’re doin’ or the reasons.
–Tori Amos, “Honey”
I see you in my dreams,
fair boy, your eyes haunt me.
–Tori Amos, “Song for Eric”
I found the secret to life:
I’m ok when every thing is not ok.
–Tori Amos, “Upside Down”
You told me last night
you were a sun now
with your very own devoted satellite
happy for you
and I am sure that I hate you …
–Tori Amos, “Doughnut Song”
And if you could see me now
said if you could see me now
girls you’ve got to know
when it’s time to turn the page
when you’re only wet
because of the rain.
–Tori Amos, “Northern Lad”
I guess you go too far when pianos try to be guitars. –ditto
Thunder wishes it could be the snow. –Tori Amos, “Purple People”
But Fire thought she’d really rather be Water instead. –Tori Amos, “Cooling”
I can taste you’re still alive below the waste. –Tori Amos, “Pandora’s Aquarium”
Say you know what you want
you said we were the real thing
so I show you some more and I learn
what black magic can do.
–Tori Amos, “Jackie’s Strength”
So I turn myself inside out and hope someone will see. –ditto
Well I know we’re dying
and there’s no sign of a parachute
in this chapel
little chapel of love
can’t we get a little grace
and some elegance
no, we scream in cathedrals
why can’t it be beautiful
why does there
gotta be a sacrifice?
–Tori Amos, “iieee”
I guess I’m an underwater thing
I’m liquid running
there’s a sea secret in me
it’s plain to see it is rising.
–Tori Amos, “Liquid Diamonds”
And if your friends don’t come back to you and you know this is madness … –ditto
sShe had a January world
so many storms not right somehow
how a lion becomes a mouse
by the woods.
–Tori Amos, “Black Dove”
Ballerinas that have fins that you’ll never find. –Tori Amos, “Spark”
Somewhere someone must know the ending. –Tori Amos, “Space Dog”
I’m already in circles and circles and circles again
the girl’s in circles and circles
got to stop spinning
circles and circles and circles again
thought I was over the bridge now.
–Tori Amos, “Cloud on my Tongue”
I could have
I should have
I could have flown you know
I could have
I should have
I didn’t so
She said it’s time I open my eyes
don’t be afraid to open your eyes
maybe she’s right, maybe she’s right
maybe she’s right, maybe she’s right.
–Tori Amos, “The Wrong Band”
He says that behind my eyes I’m hiding
and he tells me I pushed him away
that my heart’s been hard to find.
–Tori Amos, “Baker, Baker”
You came to make sure that I’m not running
well I ran from him in all kinds of ways
guess it was his turn this time.
I’ve got your mind I said
she said I’ve your voice
I said you don’t need my voice, girl, you have your own
but you never thought it was enough of.
–Tori Amos, “Bells for Her”
Hold onto nothing as fast as you can. –Tori Amos, “Pretty Good Year”
And I know I have been driven like the snow
But this is cooling faster than I can.
– Tori Amos, “Cooling”
And if I find you, will you still remember playing at trains
Or does this little blue ball just fade away?
–Tori Amos, “1000 Oceans”
Who could ever say you’re not simply wonderful?
Who could ever harm you?
–Tori Amos, “Merman”
I’ve got enough guilt to start my own religion. –Tori Amos, “Crucify”
For me to break your bread
for me to take your word
I had to steal it.
–Tori Amos, “A Sorta Fairytale”
You say, “There’s not a lot of me left anymore–
just leave it alone.
But if you’re by, and you have the time,
tell the northern lights to keep shining–
lately it seems like they’re drowning.”
–Tori Amos, “Amber Waves”
Blow by blow
her mind cut in sheets
layers deep now unraveling.
–Tori Amos, “Carbon”
And as soon as you have
rearranged the mess in your head
he will show up looking sane
if I know Crazy.
–Tori Amos, “Crazy”
And I wonder when will I learn;
blue isn’t red
everybody knows this.
And I wonder when will I learn,
when will I learn.
–Tori Amos, “Strange”
Seems like you and your tribe
decided you’d rewrite the law,
segregate the mind body from soul.
–Tori Amos, “Pancake”
Messiahs need people dying in their name. –ditto
And I know your lips are warm,
but I can’t seem to find my way out,
my way out of your hunting ground.
–Tori Amos, “I Can’t See New York”
What I want is not to want what isn’t mine. –Tori Amos, “Another Girl’s Paradise”
Just tell your Gods for me all debts are off this year.
They’re free to leave, yes, they’re free to leave.
–Tori Amos, “Scarlet’s Walk”
Who we were isn’t lost before we were us.
Indigo is his own—blue always knew this.
–Tori Amos, “Your Cloud”
Sometimes I hear my voice and it’s been here—silent all these years. –Tori Amos, “Silent All These Years”
When you gonna love you as much as I do? –Tori Amos, “Winter”
Cutting my hands up, everytime I touch you. –Tori Amos, “Tear in your Hand”
Doesn’t take much to rip us into pieces. –Tori Amos, “Little Earthquakes”