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Tori Amos Under the Pink

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Yes, Anastasia

Lyrics by Tori Amos

I know what you want
The magpies have come

If you know me so well then tell me which hand I use

Make them go
Make it go

Saw her there in a restaurant
Poppy don't go
I know your mother is a good one
but Poppy don't go
I'll take you home

Show me the things I've been missing
Show me the ways I forgot to be speaking
Show me the ways to get back to the garden
Show me the ways to get around the get around
Show me the ways to button up buttons
that have forgotten they're buttons
Well we can't have that forgetting that

Girls girls what have we done
What have we done to ourselves

Driving on the vine over clothes lines
but officer I saw the sign

Thought I'd been through this in 1919
Counting the tears of ten thousand men
and gathered them all but my feet are slipping
There's something we left on the windowsill
There's something we left, yes

We'll see how brave you are
We'll see how fast you'll be running
We'll see how brave you are
Yes, Anastasia

and all your dollies have friends

Thought she deserved no less than she'd give
Well happy birthday
Her blood's on my hands
It's kind of a shame cause I did like that dress
It's funny the things that you find in the rain
The things that you find, yes

in the mall and in the date-mines
in the knot still in her hair
on the bus I'm on my way down, on my way down
All the girls seem to be there

We'll see how brave you are, oh yes
We'll see how fast you'll be running
We'll see how brave you are
We'll see

We'll see how brave you are, oh yes
We'll see how fast you'll be running
We'll see how brave you are
Yes, Anastasia

Come along now little darlin'
Come along now with me
Come along now little darlin'
We'll see how brave you are


Tori Quotes

I hope I told your story correctly, my friend. So many codes, it was hard to decipher, but I believe Anastasia's story is everyone's in a way. She tried to tell me that and I blew her off. [Under the Pink songbook]

When we get to "Anastasia" -- I had some visitation on this. I was in Richmond. It was after the Washington show, and I had food poisoning. Very ill. I was in Richmond the next night [which is where Anastasia supposedly died]... And her being visited me, and said, "You need to tell my story." And I'm like, "Oh, come on. I'm losing crab at both ends. [Tori had eaten some bad seafood] Can't we, like, negotiate this?" And it was a bit of -- that's where my experience from the violent kidnapping that I went through with "Me and a Gun" kind of made me able to understand the horror that she went through, and yet, the incredible understanding that she came to, which is the first half of Anastasia, that whole, "Show me the ways to get back to the garden" and "Driving on the vine over clotheslines. But officer, I saw the sign." You're very aware of what's happening, that you're being changed and that you're numbing yourself, but how do you turn it around? And that's where "We'll see how brave you are" -- when you're 18, you know everything, and it's, yeah, I can handle anything. Well, any of us can be brought to our knees real fast. And with Anastasia, I would be looking kind of down on myself through different parts of my life, going, "We'll see how brave you are." And I get such hope from that one. [Baltimore Sun - January 1994]

I was feeling so sick that I wanted to be put out of my misery. And then I get this presence. It's like a light, a blueish-greyish light... The message was, "You need to learn something out of writing my story." [London Independent - January 16, 1994]

Poppy is the little girl who was in "Silent All These Years." [Aquarian Weekly - February 21, 1996]

It's a journey. Anastasia Romanov... it's not like I've read loads of books on her. I was aware of the family and that's about it. So I'm in Virginia, and I had crabs... [laughs] I keep saying that! I had crab sickness, I had eaten bad crabs in Maryland! But I couldn't cancel the show. I was at soundcheck, and needless to say, when you are very, very ill, it is easier to communicate with your source... you are fragile and vulnerable. Well, her presence came. Now I have only heard of her in history, I've got no point to make. She comes and goes, "You've got to write my tune." I go, "Ohhh, now's not really a good time." She says, "No, you've got to understand something from this, there's something here that you've got to come to terms with." And that night came, [sings] "We'll see how brave you are," and that was really about the whole record. That came just about before everything. And whenever I sing that chorus, "We'll see how brave you are," it means so many different things to me. It's part of my self, my spirit self saying to the rest of myself, "If you really want a challenge, just deal with yourself."

The funny thing is that Anna Anderson, who claimed to be Anastasia, died very close to where I was playing, an hour or so from there in the 80s. The feeling I got that Anna Anderson was Anastasia Romanov. She always tried to prove it and a lot of people believed her and some people didn't want to believe her, because of what that would have meant. And again, it's really working through being a victim. "Counting the tears from ten thousand men, and gathered them all, but my feet are slipping." You can't blame the men anymore; there's always you. It comes back to us; it comes back to me. [B-Side - April/May 1994]

So "Cornflake Girl," "The Waitress" and "Bells for Her" add an underlying theme to the record... even with "girls, what have we done to ourselves" in "Anastasia" -- "thought she'd deserved no less than she'd give, well happy birthday, her blood's on my hands." You're not the cause of this person's unhappiness. And yet you seem to be the one standing there getting dumped on. [B-Side - April/May 1994]

That's my big epic. A lot of Debussy influence on the first half, and the Russian composers on the second half. I was real excited working with Phil Shenale, who arranged the strings. We'd had quite a famous arranger arranging and Eric and I erased it all after we had some margaritas. No, we purposely did, it was shit. [Beat - July 14, 1994]

The first part of "Yes, Anastasia" is a good example of free form. "Anastasia" was written how you hear it. I wrote that whole first half with a tape recorder: The second half was written first, and then I was just noodling, just stream of consciousness with my ghetto blaster on. It took me six weeks to learn the first half of "Anastasia" from that tape, because it was all about free form. I'm much better when I've never done something before, because when I try to do it the second time, I'm recreating instead of creating. That changes everything. I usually don't get it together enough to finish a work like that; it's like I've got too much pesto on my noodles. I'll only get a couple of measures, and then it gets all jumbled. Then I start screaming and hating myself. It's just bratty prodigy behavior, because I get in my own way a lot. Sometimes I don't have the discipline of a more formulated person. Bridges have always been my strength, but sometimes the rest of the song is like pissing in the wind: The land masses on either side of the bridge ain't so great. I've got my Coleman stove and my little jacuzzi on the bridge, because sometimes there ain't nothin' on the other side. [Keyboard - November 1994]

I was reading all about Anastasia Romanov, and um, sometimes just certain stories kind of grab you by the throat. And it was interesting how I... I've lived in England on and off for four years, and um, they are more interested in these kinds of things, I think. And I would be reading so much about how they hadn't still determined whether they had found Anastasia or not. And that this woman who died a few years ago, everyone believed that she was lying. Not everyone, but most people said she really couldn't have lived through that. And I tend to believe that it was. So, she had died, and when I was very ill, in Virginia, I kind of got visited by this figure and she said, "Write my story." And that's what I tried to do. [UCLA speech - February 27, 1995]

I think that "Yes, Anastasia" contains the passion that I have with history. Historical figures show up every once in a while in the songs. In "Jackie's Strength" and "Josephine" -- you'll see them come up every so often, these female icons, not only mythological characters but also historical women that I try and spotlight through the music.

"Anastasia" came to me when I was in Richmond, Virginia. I was touring and playing a little club that particular night. I can't quite recall with the most accuracy right now, but I ran across a book about a woman claiming she was the long-lost Anastasia. Either the book had recently been released or possibly this woman had just recently passed, but either way it was a current topic of discussion. That became an opening for me. It was almost as if the ghost of Anastasia came and tapped me on the shoulder and said, "No, tell my story. I need to live on in the memory and hearts of people. Whatever happened to me, don't let this distract you. Don't miss the point of who and what I was."

Phil Shenale did the string arrangement for this song. But Phil wasn't the first string arranger hired to work on Under the Pink. I had called in someone with "a reputation." I'll never forget the day that after we completed a four-song session with a 50-piece orchestra at Ocean Way Studios, I went and erased all 50 pieces on all four tracks without telling the record company. I was working with a string arrangement I hadn't heard before because I was told this was the way the string arranger created, and I would just have to trust. Now I went along with it because of certain advisors on the project and the reputation of the string arranger. This is where I've learned to trust my instinct. After the session was over I went next door to the Columbia Bar and Grill. Eric Rosse and the engineer on the string session, John Beverly Jones, were there, and I remember it as clear as the day it happened. They both looked at me, over weak margaritas with extra salt, and asked if I really wanted to do this, if I really wanted to erase the equivalent of what a medium-sized house in Pomona would cost. Without a doubt, after another lick of salt, I got up, walked next door, and pushed the erase button. It was the most liberating feeling to get rid of something that I felt compromised the songs. I knew if I was willing to do that, I would he okay in life.

"Yes, Anastasia" was one of those tracks where I erased the strings. She was with me during that time, all the way from Virginia. I think because of the blood on the tracks for Anastasia herself -- with the brutality, the murders that happened with her family -- that when there was a misalignment with the string arrangement, when the composition of the structure was compromised, and when ultimately the story was compromised, I decided we needed a little blood on our tracks too. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. I think she made the greatest case for me to erase everything. [A Piano liner notes - 2006]

The line "We'll see how brave you are" walks with me every day. The idea of bravery has to be to keep asking yourself, "What kind of energy do I want to put out into the world today, and what do I want to take in?" There's a bravery that has to occur for you to live your life -- for you to be present in your life -- and you must realize that everything you're choosing to do will absolutely affect you in five years. It will. There's a responsibility in realizing that there's a bravery in just getting out of bed. We can make so much of our lives and our choices if we're awake for it. [Under the Pink Deluxe Edition liner notes - 2015]


Live Versions

"Yes, Anastasia"
November 2, 1996 - Tulsa, Oklahoma



"Yes, Anastasia"
March 23, 2003 - Tulsa, Oklahoma



"Yes, Anastasia"
November 26, 2007 - San Antonio, Texas



"Yes, Anastasia" (with orchestra)
October 3, 2012 - London, England



"Yes, Anastasia"
August 24, 2014 - Miami, Florida
[alternate video]



"Yes, Anastasia" (with orchestra)
November 11, 2014 - Sydney, Australia



"Yes, Anastasia"
October 27, 2017 - Chicago, Illinois




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