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Datura

Lyrics by Tori Amos

get out of my garden

passion vine
texas sage
indigo spires saliva
confederate jasmine
royal cape plumbago
arica palm
pygmy date plam
snow on the mountain
pink powderpuff
datura
crinum lily
st. chrstopher's lily
silver dollar eucalyptus
white african iris
katie's charm ruellia
variegated shell ginger
florida coontie
datura
ming tea
sword fern
dianella
walking iris
chocolate cherries allamanda
awabuki viburnum

is there room in my heart
for you to follow your heart
and not need more blood
from the tip of your star

get out of my garden

walking iris
chocolate cherries allamanda
awabuki viburnun
natal plum
black magic ti
mexican bush sage
gumbo lumbo
golden shrimp
belize shrimp
senna
weeping sabicu
golden shower tree
golden trumpet tree
bird of paradise
come in
variegated shell ginger
Datura
lonicera
red velvet costus
xanadu philodendron
snow queen hibiscus
frangipani
bleeding heart
persian shield
cat's whiskers
royal palm
sweet alyssum
petting bamboo
orange jasmine
clitoria blue pea
downy jasmine
Datura
frangipani


dividing Canaan
piece by piece
o let me see
dividing Canaan

[see photos of the plants in "Datura"]


Tori Quotes

Datura is this plant that if you put too many leaves in to steep -- even though it does have altered-state potential in a big way, like bella donna -- if you don't steep it correctly, I hope you like to fly... [Pulse - November 1999]

"Datura" was perhaps a still more adventurous track, not just in its electronic applications, but also in going beyond song structure. Even the lyrics are unusual, with an emphasis on just a list of plants. What was the creative process behind this piece?

I was in a mood that day... We were supposed to be cutting something else, and it wasn't coming together. Matt [Matt Chamberlain, drums] was running around, but the band hadn't shown up yet -- meaning Caton [Steve Caton, guitars] and Jon [Jon Evans, bass] hadn't come. And I just had this thing about my garden. I got a list from my gardener about everything that was in my garden that was still alive.

That was the list in the lyric?

Yeah. So at a certain point, this whole "Malagueña"... Why I say "Malagueña," because it isn't anything like it, but I remember playing that when I was eight or something, but it was definitely way before I got kicked out of Peabody. I loved the more South American -- the tropical -- pulse, and datura being a hallucinogen, that's dangerous stuff. At the time, though, I was reading the sequel to Bloodline of the Holy Grail, which goes pre-Jesus, so it's all Sumerian. [She pronounces this "Shumerian."] Some people say Sumerian, but they [the experts] say it's "shumerian." So I was kind of drawn to the theories of what was passing through Canaan and the division of it. The Venus record was, to me, very much a bridge for my own work, from this time as we go over to the next numbership [the year 2000]. Whether it's psychological or not, it doesn't matter, you're building a bridge. So, Canaan now becomes a planet, because... because it is. And the idea of the Apocalypse being that everybody thinks they own pieces of the sun, even if it's a little house... and I'm a home owner; I have those feelings too. And yet I kept getting this sense of the patriarchal community for the last many thousands of years, whether it's the Judaic God or the Christian God, saying, "You're expelled from the Garden." Whoa, wait a minute: What does she have to say about this? Because it is Gaia. We realize now that the planet is a living organism, and she's kind of got a mind of her own.

So we go back to, because "Bliss" starts the record, and there's this controlling patriarchal force... Instead of "Father who art in Heaven," it's "Father, I killed my monkey." There's a real delineation about who owns the goods here. Who has the entitlement of a woman's body, of the Earth's body, of the body of the Garden? I just watched the song come in and give the patriarchy datura, because it exists. It was all throbbing, and she's doing a roll call of those now who can come in [the list of plants in the song "Datura"].

The second movement [of the song], which is, "Is there room in my heart for you to follow your heart and not need more blood from the tip of your star," a part of it was me singing it as the patriarchy, being a woman -- me needing a piece of her essence, all the blood that's been spilled in the name of who owns the land, who has the god, who has the access? So it was very much this revelation, coming from Venus -- a camera looking onto Gaia.

All of this isn't easy to discern through simply listening to "Datura." In fact, the repetition of dividing Canaan at the end tends to diminish, rather than emphasize, the meaning by turning these words into a sonic event, much as the Beatles chant at the end of "Hey, Jude" conveys something other than literal meaning.

Or I say it as much as it's been divided.

But even that isn't as transparent as the meaning of more commercial lyrics might be.

Yeah, but the parables are elusive. You have to journey with them. I give you perspectives from where I wrote it. They take on their own life forms. But there's word association, and sometimes I give people the bloodline. It gives you a character study of who she is. But then she has a whole subtext to her that's going on, that some people read into her and I haven't. But I never write it to be literal, until I choose to. If I want to be literal, I'll be literal. But when you're on a datura trip, you don't do it to be literal. The literal bit of it is the garden: It's very factual, being read, doing a roll call. [All Music zine - October 1999]

I'm talking about the times when lines have been crossed by men. Men can be dangerous, like in the song "Datura" about how sometimes they can bring you gold and sometimes they can be the bearer of poison. The plant datura is a hallucinogen and it's like men. If you get the right amount you'll walk into the garden and become a woman, but if too much seeps in in the wrong way and at the wrong time -- it'll kill you. [Attitude (UK) - November 1999]

This was an evolution of Choirgirl. The same team as before were building the tracks. There was a lot of experimenting going on. "Datura" has two drum kits on the track in one of the sections. On Venus, there are times when Matt was playing on electronic drum pads through a guitar amp with guitar pedals -- the song "Lust" is an example of this.

The subject matter of "Datura" was guiding me. There were biblical references to contend with and possession energies. Subjugation and controlling energies as well as empowering energies liberating the heart and mind. As we all know, some controlling energies can be quite clever in how they get you to be "in service" to them instead of inspiring you to become your own essence. On some of the records -- including Unrepentant Geraldines -- the songs are going after restricting forces that we allow to prohibit our relationship with creativity. [The Quietus - June 19, 2014]


"Take to the Sky" / "Datura"
April 8, 2014 - Berlin, Germany




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