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The Independent (UK)
London newspaper
March 19, 2004

ROCK & POP: STORY OF THE SONG

'CORNFLAKE GIRL' TORI AMOS (1994)


By Robert Webb

Tori Amos: constructing a new archetype

Possessing the Secret of Joy, Alice Walker's spin-off from her Pulitzer prize-winning novel The Color Purple, is an unlikely inspiration for a pop song. It tells the story of a young African woman going through the ritual of female circumcision. When Tori Amos read Walker's factually based story, she was incensed that it was the mothers taking their daughters to have their genitalia butchered. "I would have never imagined that we could be so unsupportive of each other," she said and immediately set to work on a new song.

To express the notion of female betrayal, Amos constructed a new archetype: the Cornflake Girl. "Cornflake girls and raisin girls... represent two different ways of thinking: narrow-mindedness and open-mindedness. And how narrow-minded women betray the rest of us," Amos said.

The song describes a girl transformed from cornflake into raisin. "It's also about the idea that women are always the good ones and men the bad ones, which is not always true," Amos said. The song was recorded for her second album, Under the Pink, in October 1993, "at an old hacienda in New Mexico we call the Fishhouse", as the sleeve-notes explain. "I would go out into the desert and just sit until really the soul of the song came and visited me," Amos said. "When it would come, I would just start to get to know who this being was and what they were trying to say to me... The whole last record was about finding my voice again."

The track is built on guitar, piano and mandolin. The Sixties R&B singer Merry Clayton guests, and Amos's boyfriend of the time, Eric Rosse, was involved as "programmer and producer".

Parts of Under the Pink were overdubbed at the home of her collaborator Trent Reznor -- the Beverly Hills house where Sharon Tate was murdered in 1969 by Charles Manson's followers. It was a spooky moment: for Amos, "Cornflake Girl", and the album as a whole, was about not being a victim any more. Released as a single in early 1994, it graced the charts with a rare elegance, engendering so much appeal that the Kellogg's company reputedly offered assistance in the struggle against female oppression by producing a limited edition of their famous breakfast cereal featuring Amos's face on the box.


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