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The Story Behind "Me and A Gun"
by Murray Weiss
Tori Amos is a huge pop star with a smash album at the top
of the charts but -- behind the glamour -- she has lived
with an enormous burden. Like hundreds of thousands of
women, Amos has struggled with the memory and horror of
"It was something I penned up inside me for years," said
For six years, the 32-year-old superstar refused to admit
to herself that she had been forced into a car and raped
after a performance at a small club in 1985.
"There was an incredible shame... that made me feel that I somehow
had brought this on," Amos said, expressing a feeling shared by
many rape survivors. "I erected a huge defense around it to hide it
somewhere beneath my heart."
Her relationships suffered, she refused to get close to anyone. "I
became very, very tough." she said. But finally, in 1991, her
defenses came crashing down when she found herself "frozen" in her
chair watching a rape unfold in the movie Thelma and Louise. In a
rush of grief that day, Amos wrote a haunting song, "Me and a Gun,"
about her tortuous rape experience.
"5 am. Friday morning Thursday night. Far from Sleep.
It's me and a gun. And a man on my back.
"It's kinda funny. The things you think at times like
these. Like I have not seen Barbados. So I must get out
The song struck an emotional chord among her legions of fans and
sparked an emotional outpouring from victims that took her by
surprise. "Letters arrived backstage." Amos said. "Letters arrived
at the record company. At my fan club. My management. There were
thousands upon thousands of letters. It was incomprehensible. And
in every letter, there was this deep, deep hurt." Some letters were
so filled with pain, she could barely stand to read them. "There
were girls who knew they were going home that night to be raped,
because they had been raped every night for years by a stepfather,"
"Yes I wore a slinky red thing Does that mean I should
spread. For you. Your Friends. Your father.
"It's me and a gun. And a man on my back. But I haven't
seen Barbados, so I m must get out of this.
"Tell me What's right? Is it my right? To be on my
stomach. It It's me and a gun. And a man on my back."
Amos said she was "fortunate" to write about her attack. It began
the healing process for her. "My floodgates opened," she recalled.
"Thank God I did. I can love again and separate the incident from
other relationships." She was determined to try to help other
victims. With her manager, Arthur Spivak, she established a
nationwide victims crisis center called RAINN (Rape Abuse, Incest
Nationwide Network) two years ago. (The toll-free number is:
1-800-656-HOPE; the hot line gives victims an opportunity to
contact rape-crisis and intervention centers near their homes.)
Amos says the solution to the rape crisis lies in Washington, but
lawmakers "have ignored" the issue, and she believes her generation
"is going to turn this around," she added. "Rape has been a secret
... a shame . . . for thousands of years, but we are breaking this
chain," she concluded.
"Do you know Carolina. Where the biscuits are soft and
sweet. These things go through your head. When there's a
man on your back and you're pushed flat on your stomach."
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