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Professional Widow

Lyrics by Tori Amos

slag pit
stag shit
honey bring it close to my lips
don't blow those brains yet
we gotta be big boy
we gotta be big
starfucker just like my Daddy
selling his baby
just like my Daddy
gonna strike a deal make him feel
like a Congressman
it runs in the family

rest your shoulders Peaches and Cream
everywhere a Judas as far as you can see
beautiful angel
calling "we got every re-run of Muhammad Ali"

prism perfect
honey bring it close to your lips
what is termed a landslide of principle
proportion boy it better be big boy
starfucker just like my Daddy
selling his baby
just like my Daddy
gonna strike a deal make him feel
like a Congressman
it runs in the family

Mother Mary
china white
brown may be sweeter
she will supply
Mother Mary
china white
brown may be sweeter
she will supply
she will supply
she will supply
she will supply
give me peace, love and a hard cock


Tori Quotes

That's my Lady Macbeth, the side of me that wanted power. But power in a man's world. I wanted to be Indiana Jones, not the girlfriend [laughs]. But as I began to do that I started to alienate many men. "Widow" is my hunger for the energy I felt some of the men in my life possessed: the ability to be king. 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. [Making Music - Jan 1996]

That's my cornerstone song, my Lady Macbeth. It's my desire to be king, to have what the big boys have, and giving up my femininity and vulnerability to taste it. [Diva - Feb/March 1996]

"Professional Widow" is the Lady Macbeth archetype. There are many ways to play Lady Macbeth. It can be done in a Jackie O suit. Believe me, I... I like to think that I was clever about it. I don't think I really was. But I'd like to think I disguised it. [Really Deep Thoughts #10]

"Give me peace, love, and a hard cock" -- because you can't have one without the other. For her to really say, "Are you gay? Are you blue?" that same person has had to say, "Give me peace, love, and a hard cock," because if I hear peace and love one more time! That is so full of shit! [Spin - March 1996]

"I really like her because she's dead honest. I've been a groupie and I wish I hadn't been, but I was and it happens. I can relate." [Spin - March 1996]

I was going, "Oh, I wanna see him crawl." And letting that be there. Wearing a really cute fuzzy pink shoe. And having no limitation of exploring certain facets of the personality. And being shocked and horrified about "Professional Widow," and then loving her -- just loving the fact that she's convincing him to kill himself, guaranteeing that Mother Mary will supply. And I said, you really can't get any lower than that. I love the fact that she said, "This is how far I've gone -- this is where I am at this moment. Are you willing to see that part of yourself? The part that wants his energy, that wants his fame, that wants his light -- not recognizing your own." It gets to the point where you don't even have to push him over the edge - you're just reading him poetry, and that's enough to make him want to kill himself." [Aquarian Weekly - Feb 21, 1996]

As I got to know "Widow," I began to really adore her candor. She was so cut off from so many other parts of being, but here she is, deliciously convincing him to kill himself so she doesn't have to leave fingerprints on his body. She'll make sure he showers before all this begins. She's ready to extract what she wants until he's dead. Whatever his addiction is, she's convincing him that Mother Mary will supply it. [Musician - May 1996]

I wanted to go into the hidden parts of the feminine; the way I see it, anyway. We all have our own perspective, men and women, about what the hidden parts of the feminine are. I went after what in some cases have become distorted, such as "Professional Widow," the black widow, and when I ran into the widow... [she lets out a sick little laugh] I had to come to terms with the fact that I wanted to be king. And to be this in the patriarchy... I never wanted to be the maiden. I wanted to be the knight that got the castles. I wanted to be the one who got the Land. But still I wanted to have babies; I wanted to be a mother, I wanted to feel that ability to do that. So the role of woman, to have babies and do that, you can't be a knight too, you can't do that. And the women who were knights were virgins, the Joan of Arcs... so you are not a sexually active being who wants to be involved and have a baby and a love relationship and be the brains to keep the castle running. And I do not mean the chatelaine... I want to be Patton. [B-Side - May/June 1996]

"Professional Widow" Dance Remixes

Let's talk about "Professional Widow." Were you consulted on that remix?

Of course. People can't just take my masters and do what they will with them. You have to understand something. I have total control of my work. I'm very fierce about my music. It's not for someone to tamper with just because they think they can make a buck. I made a very obscure record last time and Johnny D, a DJ friend of mine in New York, said, "Hey, it would be great if you did a few dance remixes," and suggested this guy van Helden. It was that simple -- nobody thought anything would happen with it. I certainly didn't think it would become, like, a benchmark in dance music. [Attitude - May 1998]

You can be graphic, too. How about the remix of "Professional Widow" (It's Got to Be Big)?

Well, the lyric is, "Slag pit, stag shit. Honey, bring it close to my lips. Don't blow those brains yet. It's got to be big." Could be anything -- death, a body part. The remix concentrated on a line. Obviously, that's a place where women can really strike, though. Women can really wound a guy in that way if they want to, and that remix could prey on man's worst fears. [Esquire - Oct 1999]

[see also: Armand van Helden talks about the remix]

"Professional Widow" (Merry Widow Version)

Your voice is a force of nature on this. How much forethought went into unleashing that on the audience?

There were circumstances that were happening at the time. If you have chops, it's one thing to have them, but then you need the intention. It's about the force behind it. It is not in a place of compassionate beauty. But you can't put it on. If you try to do that blood-letting when you don't feel it, it sounds false.

This was a specific performance that I think was captured at its best -- I can remember it very well. It was a very confrontational time in my life for all kinds of reasons. There were a lot of upheavals and power struggles going on in many different areas of my life.

Boys for Pele was a really tough record. I had been met with a lot of resistance to it and got a lot of flak for it from critics because it wasn't commercial, there wasn't a proper single... believe it or not, it was Neil Gaiman who was whispering in my ear saying, it's a tough road now, but in 20 years' time you'll look back and think, because you did this record you will have been able to do all kinds of projects. If you did another Under the Pink -- he told me at the time -- you won't have a long career.

When "Professional Widow" did make no. 1 a year later, having made the rounds in Ibiza, it was a wild experience, having gone through a year of hell. Boys for Pele was ripe for extreme interpretations because of the raw energy that was in the album's DNA. It was rejected by the commercial world but began to be embraced by creative thinkers. There was a guy at the label in the States, at Atlantic Records, named Johnny D. He was passionate about the talent out there at the time. So Johnny D cultivated collaborations and was determined to have Pele played all over the underground club scene. It seemed to me as if the energy of Pele herself, a volcanic goddess, was opening passage ways and morphing herself into many forms of expression.

Your voice on Unrepentant Geraldines is very pretty and clear -- a real contrast to how raw and confrontational it used to be.

Yeah! You go through different phases, but it has to come from an authentic place. Otherwise it's disingenuous, you're just copying yourself. You go through periods where you're really there. The problem is if you stay in a place for 15 years, you're not exploring more. [The Quietus - June 19, 2014]


"Professional Widow" (Merry Widow Version)
September 24, 1996 - Normal, Illinois



"Professional Widow"
August 29, 1999 - Saratoga Springs, New York



"Professional Widow"
September 24, 1999 - Las Vegas, Nevada



"Professional Widow"
August 23, 2003 - Wantagh, New York



"Professional Widow" (Remix)
June 15, 2007 - Seinajoki, Finland




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