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Tori Amos Boys for Pele

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Lyrics by Tori Amos

a little blubber in my igloo
and I knew you pigtails and all
girls when they fall
and they said Marianne killed herself
and I said not a chance
don't you love the girls ladies babes
old bags who say she was so pretty why
why why why did she crawl down in the old
deep ravine

c'mon pigtails girl and all those sailors
get your bags and hold down won't you just
hold down cause Ed is watching my every sound
I said
they're watching my every sound

the weasel squeaks faster than a seven day week
I said Timmy and that purple Monkey
are all down
at Bobby's house
making themselves pesters and lesters and jesters and my
traitors of kind
and I'm just having thoughts of Marianne
she could outrun the fastest slug
she could
quickest girl in the frying pan

Tori Quotes

"Marianne" represents the death of the girlhood. [Baltimore Sun - Jan 21, 1996]

Maryanne Curtis is a girl I went to school with in junior high. She was the kind of person everyone adored, she was just magical. I had written a song about her years ago which I used to play in the bars sometimes. It never went any further than being performed, I didn't record it. Since then I have always wanted to have Maryanne in a song. She died from a drug overdose when she was 15. It is not known, but I don't believe it was suicide. I think she took the wrong things together. She is very special to me, and comes to visit in my songs sometimes. [1996]

"Marianne" is based on a girl that I went to school with. I mean, actually, she's a lot of people, but there was a Maryanne that I knew; that they say killed herself. And the thing about when Maryanne passed was that um, when she looked in your eyes, you saw you better than you've ever seen yourself. Just the way she would look at you. I never in my life saw a nasty thing come out of her. And she was the coolest, I mean, she was the coolest girl. But she never put that out so when she passed, you see, the thing that reflected the best part of you, had passed. And that was part of the grieving that happened with Maryanne, cause nobody could find a good piece of themselves for a very long time after Maryanne passed. [WNEW - Feb 5, 1996]

Maryanne came to visit me. The spirit of Maryanne. And Maryanne Curtis was a girl that I went to school with. And some say she killed herself, some say she died over an OD. I choose to believe that Maryanne just um... to me she was kinda like a young Mary Magdalene. She, it just wasn't, the world couldn't hold her anymore. They couldn't um, understand her energy. I think anybody who knew Maryanne would tell you that she reflected the best parts of you back. So when you'd look into Maryanne's eyes -- yes, of course she was beautiful, but you felt beautiful because Maryanne never hated anything, anybody. And so when she died, you felt like this thing that reflected the best part of you had died. So for Maryanne to come back again was... it was like the second coming, for me, really. [WHFS - Feb 12, 1996]

Searching for a sound on "Marianne," a song about a childhood friend who died, Tori told her musicians:
It's kind of like that melon slush that I made ten years ago and poured it out the side of my little hovel when I lived in L.A. [Spin - March 1996]

"Tuna, rubber, a little blubber in my igloo..." For me to say that line in another way would just make it really gross and crass. Sometimes it's just about how something makes you feel. You've got to go there, you've got to be willing to take that trip. And images, tastes, smells, objects... it's associations. To me, these things are concrete. Some were a little more layered than others, no question about that. But I think from beginning to end it's about a woman's journey; and it's a really emotional journey. [Keyboard - April 1996]

Part of you has to die, and in "Marianne" it's the whole Mary Magdalene reference, a young girl who I knew that died. There's the whole idea of that part of woman that has been dormant, who's been dead. "The quickest girl in the frying pan" -- the priestesses who showed her they were one with the knowledge and the passion... man, get rid of them! [B-Side - May/June 1996]

Sometimes the songs fo come in snippets... Then once in a rare while you'll have a song like "Marianne" that comes all at once. I was waiting for everyone to finish setting up while we were recording at the church in Ireland and "Marianne" just came out. So what you hear on tape was "Marianne" being written and recorded -- words, music, everything -- in one take. It rarely happens in that complete kind of form. Songs typically come in 8-bar phrases with the melody and a few key words, and that gives you a blue print to begin building a foundation around. But I don't always have the tape recorder running when they come. [A Piano liner notes - 2006]

The story of a girl I knew in high school who died and everyone loved her. The recording that you hear, I was messing about and it just happened that Mark hit the "record" button. Most songs never come like that -- it's strange when it happens, because it's like nothing I can explain. When it was done, I said, "Uh, guys, did you get that?" Mark said, "Could you please not do that again? Can you give us a warning next time?" It was tough for the engineers -- they couldn't separate piano and vocals for the strings and mixing. They wanted me to record it again, and I tried, but it wasn't the same. [Boys for Pele Deluxe Edition liner notes - 2016]

Boys for Pele sound engineer Mark Hawley said:

No demos were done for any of the songs on Pele. Basically, two or three songs on the album and many of the B-sides were written as you hear them there. "Marianne" and "Not the Red Baron," the first time she ever played them and the first time we ever heard them was the performance that you hear. The whole recording process was really special for that reason. [B-Side - May/June 1996]

Live Versions

February 6, 1996 - Los Angeles, California
KROQ Breakfast with Tori

January 23, 1997 - New York, New York
The Concert for RAINN

December 18, 2011 - Los Angeles, California

"Marianne" (with orchestra)
October 2, 2012 - Brussels, Belgium

August 13, 2014 - New York, New York

September 17, 2017 - Milan, Italy

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