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The Power of Orange Knickers

Lyrics by Tori Amos

The power of orange knickers
The power of orange knickers
The power of orange knickers
under my petty coat.

the power of listening to what,
you don't want me to know.

Can somebody tell me now who is this terrorist
those girls that smile kindly then rip your life to pieces.
Can somebody tell me now am I alone with this-
this little pill in my hand and with this secret kiss
am I alone in this...

A matter of complication
when you become a twist
for their latest drink
as they're transitioning

Can somebody tell me now who is this terrorist
this little pill in my hand that keeps the pain living
Can somebody tell me now a way out of this-
that sacred pipe of red stone could blow me out of this kiss
am I alone in this...

The power of orange knickers
under my petty coat.

the power of listening to what,
you don't want me to know.

Shame shame time to leave me now
Shame shame you've had your fun
shame shame for letting me think that I would be the one

Can somebody tell me now who is this terrorist
this little pill in my hand or this secret kiss, kiss
am I alone in this kiss, kiss
am I alone in this kiss, kiss


Tori Quotes

I started to think about the word terrorist. It's a word you hear several times a day now. I started to think about what being a terrorist can mean in different situations. I wanted to explore the realm of personal invasion. Now this would be an invasion by someone you know personally, not a stranger. We all know about strangers being filled with hatred -- strangers who lash out against a government or an ideal. As a result, this stranger kills innocent people, tragically, people you may know personally. But when there is an intimacy between two people and one person starts to feel invaded by the other person, that is personalized terrorism. As we all know, the battleground between two lovers, or two friends, or two coworkers can be vicious. Painful. Heartbreaking. And bloody. I started to think about the weapons that might be used in this kind of battle, and as I kept digging for an answer, I stumbles into the Realm of Assonance. I started to think, Okay, what is the paradox of the terrorist? And Assonance, that beautiful creature, came to my aid and whispered, "Kiss." And sure enough, we have all felt invaded by a lingering kiss, for good or ill. But I had to find terrorism not just in a relationship of a couple -- representing two divided Beings -- but within one Being. After all, isn't that the ultimate discovery, the ultimate pain -- division within the self, the soul from the body, the mind from the heart, wisdom from consciousness, the addiction from the cure, the two Marys . . . divided? The lyrics started to come to me quickly... [Tori Amos: Piece by Piece]

I've just finished a song on my new album called "The Power of Orange Knickers" and the word that came up was "terrorist." Tricky one! What rhymes with terrorist? Assonance is your best friend here. I thought about how people are using that word right now -- whether it's people who run kingdoms or are killing people, or both. Maybe it could mean domestic terrorism, somebody you let in your house or your room or your body -- invasion! Then I put the word "kiss" in there to create a paradox as it's the furthest thing from "terrorist." I've always been a John Lennon person. My husband is a Paul McCartney person but I love a twist in the story. I love the tension of opposites. I love dancing with the devil -- but the devil's a dictionary, not a dick! [Word (UK) - February 2005]

Says Amos, This album is exploring relationships.

In "The Power of Orange Knickers," a duet with Irish crooner Damien Rice, the two sing over one another, their voices mingling in the sweeping, piano-led chorus. In the song, Amos writes of sensuality and jealousy, using political metaphors to explore the politics of romantic relationships, as in the loaded lyric, "Can somebody tell me/Who is this terrorist?"

I was curious about how people were defining what a terrorist was, Amos explains. [I wanted to] undress the word and really crawl inside the definition of it . . . People are using it to get the masses to agree with their agendas . . . [But] it can be a little pill that you're addicted to, or a person. And sometimes, for a woman, it's another woman. [rollingstone.com - February 21, 2005]

I was curious about how people were defining what a terrorist was. It seemed to me that people were using it to get the masses to agree with their agendas on whether you're religious or political. I decided to undress the word "terrorist" and really crawl inside the definition of it. As I started to observe people, I realized you can be invaded on the playground. The effect of that is not something that should be marginalized because we have a picture of a terrorist with a gun in their hand. That is a picture. But there are other pictures, too, that affect people's lives. That can be a little pill that you're addicted to, or a person, and it goes on and on. And sometimes it's another woman for another woman. [St. Petersburg Times - March 31, 2005]

I wanted to write a song about terrorists. It's a word that's been used and misused a lot in the last few years. Therefore, sometimes to emancipate a word, you have to undress it. And as I started to undress it, I found a lot of things there. And if you start exploring it, all the correlations and just the word associations, you might get certain images in your mind.

That seems simple enough: undress a terrorist and you might find something as amusing as a pair of orange knickers, right? But no, it's more complicated than that.

Orange is a color that intrigues me, not just because of Guantnamo Bay, she explains, referring to the orange prison uniforms inmates wear. But William of Orange came over to Ireland, and you've got people over there who understand terrorism in a way that we don't. We're just learning about it because of what happened a few years ago to us. But the Irish and the British have been in this now for quite a long time. So, having lived in Ireland -- I have a house there, and I live in England and I live in America -- I see it from different perspectives. But I wanted to free up the word so that people can reclaim it and therefore won't just have a kneejerk reaction to it every time the terrorist button gets pushed -- so that you won't immediately get a picture in your mind of a guy in a turban every time the alert level goes from orange to amber. Instead, maybe you should get a picture in your mind of a guy with a suit. Or maybe it's a woman who's a teacher. Or your boss, who keeps coming onto you and embarrasses you every time you have your marketing meeting, because she wants you and you're just not into her. So she emasculates you in front of people. Now, that would be pretty invasive. And maybe that's your terrorist. I think it started when my daughter Tash was asking me, "What's a terrorist?" because she heard the word on the news. So I tried to explain. Finally she looked at me and said, "Mommy, you mean like the bully on the playground?" And I said, "Yeah, that's what I mean, but that bully can be inside, too." It can be anywhere. [The Boston Phoenix - April 8, 2005]


"The Power of Orange Knickers"
February 21, 2005 - Last Call with Carson Daly




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