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Little Amsterdam

Lyrics by Tori Amos

Little Amsterdam
in a southern town
hominy get it on the plate girl
Momma keep your head down
Momma it wasn't my bullet

don't take me back to the Range, back to the Range
I'm just comin' out of the cell in my brain
don't take me back to the Range, back to the Range
cause girl you've got to know these days
which side you're on

Momma got shit
she loved a brown man
then she built a bridge in the Sheriff's bed
she'd do anything to save her man
you see her olives they are cold pressed
and her best friend is a sun dress
but Momma it wasn't my bullet

don't take me back to the Range, back to the Range
I'm just comin' out of the cell in my brain
don't take me back to the Range, back to the Range
cause girl you've got to know these days

All alone got a girl in the city
Hey, got a room and a place for two
got a goat and a phone, I said boy
you are my Fifth Avenue

round and around and around I go
round and around this time for keeps
say a word to the hangman for me, my baby
round and around and around I go
round and around this time for keeps
say a word to the hangman for me, me and my babe
Father only you can save my soul
and playing that organ must count for something, something
girl you've got to know these days
which side you're on

Little Amsterdam
shut down today
they buried her with a butter bean bouquet
and the Sheriff now can't ride away
like he said into the sunset
and I won't say
that he shouldn't have paid
but Momma
it wasn't my bullet


Tori Quotes

And we travel further into "Little Amsterdam," we go down South, which is really symbolic for the primal, the primitive, and the lies and the... really, the domination. [World Cafe - March 1, 1996]

I've set it ["Little Amsterdam"] between two release points, an intro and outro. It helps the smell of this song, so you really get the honeysuckle with the sweet potatoes and the black-eyed peas. And just like you weave down those roads in the South, you know, you're in swampland, and then you hit water, and then country, and sugar cane. And then you hit a gas station somewhere and you're in a town, and you've gotten into the Christian sound. It's like those writers I read as a little girl, Faulkner and Williams. This is how I write. It's not about sitting down and putting 18 bars here or there. [NY Times - Jan 14, 1996]

"Little Amsterdam," which is all metaphorical, is about wanting to kill people, being angry at people that you feel have done something... the whole domination thing, the whole hierarchy, patriarchy... and her way to fight back and they are blaming her but ‘it wasn't her bullet' but she still believes it would have been fine if... [Tori makes a soft gunshot noise]. They lost him. [B-Side - May/June 1996]

I'm a big Faulkner fan, Tennessee Williams fan. How I would get taken into the story, there are so many levels of a story. There are so many levels of a dinner table conversation that's happening, with the smells against what's being said, the rhythm of the shuffled feet. Because you're dealing with the unconsciousness as well as consciousness at every moment. The big thing that started to come to me in "Amsterdam" was... I mean, I'll tell you this, just visitations of Sylvia Plath, as I would be singing "don't take me back to the range." ... The struggle of knowing I could kill him, knowing he should be killed, knowing I'm totally fine about it but Mom, that wasn't my bullet. And I'm paying for it. I get fascinated by boundaries. [Really Deep Thoughts - #10, Summer 1996]


"Little Amsterdam"
January 23, 1997 - New York, NY - The Concert for RAINN



"Little Amsterdam"
October 13, 2001 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



"Little Amsterdam"
April 27, 2003 - Houston, Texas



"Little Amsterdam"
May 29, 2014 - Amsterdam, Netherlands




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