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1000 Oceans

Lyrics by Tori Amos

these tears I've cried
I've cried 1000 oceans
and if it seems I'm floating
in the darkness well
I can't believe that
I would keep
keep you from flying
and I would cry 1000 more
if that's what it takes to
sail you home. sail you home.
sail you home.

I'm aware what the rules are
but you know that I will run
you know that I will follow you
over Silbury hill
through the solar field
you know that I will follow you

and if I find you will you still
remember playing at the trains
or does that little blue ball
just fade away

over Silbury hill
though the solar field
you know that I will follow you
I'm aware what the rules are
but you know that I will run
you know that I will follow you

these tears I've cried
I've cried 1000 oceans
and if it seems I'm floating
in the darkness well
I can't believe that
I would keep
keep you from flying
so I will cry 1000 more
if that's what it takes to
sail you home. sail you home.
sail. sail you home.


Tori Quotes

["1000 Oceans"] comes from a few places... It started with a dream I had. An African woman was singing to me singing the melody, humming it to me. I got up and found the piano, got up at 5:45am, recorded the melody and went back to bed.

Inspiration for lyrics came later when her father-in-law died in February 1999. Amos matched the feelings that accompany emotional isolation with her husband's grieving process. Her husband is Mark Hawley, one of her engineers.

They were so incredibly close that "1000 Oceans" seemed to be the only thing that could bring him out of his sadness. He'd come out and sit and say, "Could you play that one, the ocean song?" It became about feeling close to people you can't reach, seeing this depth of love for this person who was gone.

What inspired you to write "1000 Oceans"?

Well, different things really. I was woken up in the middle of the night at about 5:30 in the morning or something. And a woman's voice was singing it to me. She was African, quite ancient. And I couldn't understand any of the words, but she was humming the first couple phrases. So, I crawled out of bed and found my way to the piano and I put in on a little ghetto blaster so I wouldn't forget it and in the next few weeks I started to shape it. It wasn't about one event. It was clear to me that there was this endless determination that the song had to reach her love. And I don't know if that was a child or a lover or a friend who the song couldn't seem to be able to make contact with anymore.

So when I finally found, and I was looking through a map and when I look for lyrics I go hunting. So, as I was looking through all the maps and finding places, I was looking on maps of Dartmoor and I was working with a lot of different regions. And finally it hit me, that it was through the solar field and it wasn't listed on the maps. Because I was being dragged away from the maps to go to sort of a physics book, actually an astronomy book, a book on all sorts of laws and principles of the universe that Marcel had. And, as I finally found solar field it was like I started to feel her jump up and down. Sometimes the songs do that. You get a sense of that they really are alive.

So, my husband had lost his father and he would swing by where I was playing and he would say to me, "Can you play that little song about the oceans?" And that seemed to be sort of a way that we would talk about his dad when no other words could work. So, I think it means different things for different people. But the sense that I got was I couldn't measure the amount of love that this song had for the person that she was singing it about. And it was quite... it moved me. It was like a resolve, an endless resolve to follow her love. And, she's not a stalker by the way. [AOL chat - September 29, 1999]

The last cut on To Venus and Back, "1000 Oceans," is not only more literal in its lyrical approach than much of the rest of the album, it's also more musically accessible. The first few bars even conform to a very familiar formula for pop chord progression. Did these aspects of the song surprise you as you were composing?

Sure. An old African woman was humming it to me at 5:30 in the morning in my sleep. I went down to the piano... She was pretty ancient, and I couldn't understand a word she was saying, so I had to figure the words out. What I kind of got from it was the depth of lust that song had for somebody or something - it could be for this planet, I don't know. But the idea that this voice that was coming through very clear, finally I understood when I got the phrase "through the solar field." It all completely aligned, because I knew we were following maps: I was hunting down what the song was trying to tell me.

You know, there's always galactic reference going on in this record. There's a scientific vocabulary going on in this record. "Suede" is about seduction, but there's always a science reference, a physics reference, because that's the realm of Venus. So, I hung maps all over, and I knew I didn't have it right, coming up with things. Then finally I got that whatever dimensions the song had to cross to find the being that she was devoted to, whether it was her mother or her sister or her lover or her friend, nothing could stop her. That kind of resilience was a real anchor for the record. [All Music zine (www) - October 1999]

In old-fashioned terms of craft, the chords on "1000 Oceans" are very solidly constructed. Was there more of a conscious element of songwriting technique on this song as you were writing?

Sure. Well, there's usually an element of that in all the songs. But there was a moment when I knew that [sings] "I can't believe that I would keep, keep you from flying." I kept circling that and circling that, never knowing how I would get out of it. Then to finally go up [sings] "and I would cry a thousand more," it took me weeks to get there. It was real tortuous to find that, because I didn't know how I was gonna get past "keep you from flying." I didn't know, lyrically or musically. So finally, "and I would cry a thousand more" -- and it had to sound like it. She had to have progressed to that; she had to have done that musically. And home [from the next line, "to sail you home"] had to be something. What's home? Well, home had to be G minor.

What key is the song written in?

B flat. Then to E flat [after the G minor chord], and back to G minor. [All Music zine (www) - October 1999]

Do you have to feel the emotions of your songs in the real life to be able to describe them?

Sometimes I feel them through other people. Take "1000 Oceans" on To Venus and Back; I had a dream at 5:30 in the morning of an African woman's voice, excessively tribal. It wasn't a language I knew. I only understood the melody and it only had a few measures. I went to my piano, in the dark, and recorded 2 measures on a small tape recorder, which is always on the instrument. I sculpted the song during the following weeks, looking at Mark who just lost his father. Until the day when, struck by what I played in the living room, he said, "Could you replay this song about oceans?"

Mark... your husband?

Yes. There was a moment when I realized I saw different pictures than him about this song. I felt a deep love feeling when he came in the song, associating it to the memory and search of his father, because we don't know where those who leave this earth go. Sometimes, the love feelings of my songs come from someone else and I'm just there to look at it. [Best - October 1999]

In the song there is this ferocious commitment to finding this person. I don't know who the song is singing about - it's different for different people when they hear it. She has this depth of love for a daughter or whoever it is. I think some of the other songs look to her sometimes for that kind of resilience. [VH1.com - 1999]

Some months ago, as I was working on my new double album in Bude in Cornwall, I had a really important dream. A voice appeared in my head. I call hear my dark angel. She was a soul sister, who sang in my head. She was humming a melody to me. It was about half past five or six o'clock in the morning. I got out of bed and went over to the studio. In the country, the people there leave everything unlocked. So the studio was open. I went in and recorded the melody. From this melody the song "1000 Oceans" developed. I worked very long on it until it was finished.

Sometimes it takes an incredible amount of time for me to understand a song I have recorded. Because I am so much in it and I can't distance myself from it. Sometimes I don't really understand my songs until I go on tour and live with them. They are like girls for me that keep me accompanied. But sometimes I only understand my songs through the reactions of other people. This was the case with "1000 Oceans." Mark had just lost his father. The two were very close, because Mark was an only-son. Before the death of my father-in-law they talked on the phone every day. His father fooled us into believing he was getting better. He had cancer and some day he was just dead. It was a shock for Mark, because he had really believed it got better. They had already made plans for his father to come to visit us in the USA. He had never been there. After the old man had died my relationship with Mark got very difficult. He was inconsolable. You can't do much for somebody who has lost the most important person in his life. I often held him in my arms and made long walks with him. I was just there for him a lot. But I never really got through to him. I still have my mother and my father so I didn't have the experience. I only reached him with A Thousand Oceans. After Mark heard the song, he always came to me, sat down next to the piano and said, "Please, play that song again." And I played it to him. Through that we got in contact once again. I took him back from that other galaxy he was in a million miles away from me. So that dream was very special to me. It renewed the connection between Mark and me. [Die Zeit - November 11, 1999]


"1000 Oceans"
October 14, 1999 - Late Night with Conan O'Brien




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