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Cruel

Lyrics by Tori Amos

so don't give me respect
don't give me a piece of your preciousness
flaunt all she's got in our old neighbourhood
I'm sure she'll make a few friends
even the rain bows down let us pray
as you cock-cock-cock your mane
no cigarettes only peeled HAVANAS for you

I can be cruel
I don't know why
why can't my ba.ll.oo.n stay up
in a perfectly windy sky
I can be cruel I don't know why

dance with the Sufis celebrate
your top ten in the charts of pain
lover brother bogenvilla
my vine twists around your need
even the rain is sharp like the day
as you sh-sh-shock me sane
no cigarettes only peeled HAVANAS for you

I can be cruel
I don't know why
why can't my ba.ll.oo.n stay up
in a perfectly windy sky
I can be cruel I don't know why



additional lyrics from live performances

1998 and 1999:

(transcript from To Venus and Back live disc)

ah ah ah ah
ah ah ah
ah ah ah, yes
ah ah ah ah
ah ah ah
ah ah ah, right
ah ah ah ah
ah ah ah
ah ah ah, yes
ah ah ah ah
ah ah ah
ah ah ah , right
ah ah ah ah
ah ah ah
ah ah, you think you own it
ah ah ah ah
ah ah ah
yeah, go again
ah ah ah ah
ah ah ah
ah ah ah, yes
ah ah ah ah
ah ah ah
ah ah ah, girls
ah ah ah ah
ah ah ah ahhh
you're better than them
wanna go
when you go
again, I say, go

deeper, deeper than you go
deeper than you can
deeper than you can go
deeper than you can
I said, you can
right in my eye

deeper, deeper than you go
you go deeper still
deeper, but still you go
when you said you can
I said, you can
when you try and
tear it out and tear it out
and tear it out and you go

deeper, deeper than you go
deeper than you can
deeper but still you can
deeper than you can
I said, you can
tear it out and tear it out
and tear it out again

hey, and you know, you know
you're gonna lie, boy
way here
I said here, yes

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the Plugged '98 tour, Tori spoke about this new bridge in the live version of Cruel. She said: "It's about when that dickhead is right there in front of you, and you look him in the eyes and you just go deeper than you can go... deeper than you can go."


Tori Quotes

I played the percussion of "Cruel" in the shower on my excess fat. It sounded really good -- it made me feel good when I'd have that next bag of potato chips. I'd say "Look, 'Cruel' sounds great in the shower. You eat those chips, girl!" [Wall of Sound - April 1998]

When you start talking to people who have that kind of loss [miscarriage], somebody piping up, going, "Well, the angels were there for us during this time," well that's beautiful. But people have to understand that they're not there for everybody all the time. They get lost on the way. That's why in "Cruel" when I say, "I don't know why," I really don't know why I can be cruel. I don't know why the angels aren't there for everybody, but they're not. [Alternative Press - July 1998]

There exists such a thing as boasting about misery. One sentence in "Cruel" deals with that: "Dance with the Sufis celebrate your top ten in the charts of pain." When I had a miscarriage, there were people who said: "Yes, but you only lost an unborn child. Our son was murdered!" For some people things aren't bad enough as it is. And some hang on to the fact that The Most Terrible Thing happened to them: they entered at #1 in the charts of pain. And then others are secretly jealous because they're only at #6.

Was the reference to celebrating your Top Ten in the charts of pain an ironic sideswipe at the "Professional Widow" remix?
No, it's about when you hear people listing their griefs, it can be become a bit like a Billboard chart. "Hey, only your uncle abused you? I had 17 sailors and then my uncle!" That's what that was about... I get a lot of letters from girls who don't talk about what happened to them because they feel they have no right to speak up. So they become Victims Anonymous. [Vox - June 1998]

Tori describes "Cruel" as: very much a dark angel -- very primitive, pig-Latin ghetto feminism. [San Francisco Chronicle - May 4, 1998]


"Cruel"
May 22, 1998 - Later... with Jools Holland



"Cruel" (on the Wurlitzer)
December 6, 2001 - Manchester, England



"Cruel" (as Pip)
June 15, 2007 - Provinssirock Festival, Finland



"Cruel" (with the Apollon Musagete Quartett)
December 18, 2011 - Los Angeles, California




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