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Me and a Gun

Lyrics by Tori Amos

5am friday morning thursday night far from sleep I'm still up and driving can't go home obviously so I'll just change direction cause they'll soon know where I live and I wanna live got a full tank and some chips it was me and a gun and a man on my back and I sang holy holy as he buttoned down his pants me and a gun and a man on my back but I haven't seen BARBADOS so I must get out of this yes I wore a slinky red thing does that mean I should spread for you, your friends your father, Mr Ed and I know what this means me and Jesus a few years back used to hang and he said it's your choice babe just remember I don't think you'll be back in 3 days time so you choose well tell me what's right is it my right to be on my stomach of Fred's Seville and do you know CAROLINA where the biscuits are soft and sweet these things go through your head when there's a man on your back and you're pushed flat on your stomach it's not a classic cadillac...

Tori Quotes

I saw Thelma & Louise in London. When I saw this film, memories came flooding back. I wrote the song that afternoon, and I wrote part of it on the Bakerloo Line going to North London. I went to the Mean Fiddler that night and I sang it and I've been singing it ever since. [KABC, Los Angeles - February 9, 1996]

I'll never talk about it at this level again, but let me ask you. Why have I survived that kind of night, when other women didn't? How am I alive to tell you this tale when he was ready to slice me up? In the song I say it was "Me and a Gun" but it wasn't a gun. It was a knife he had. And the idea was to take me to his friends and cut me up, and he kept telling me that, for hours. And if he hadn't needed more drugs I would have been just one more news report, where you see the parents grieving for their daughter. And I was singing hymns, as I say in the song, because he told me to. I sang to stay alive. Yet I survived that torture, which left me urinating all over myself and left me paralyzed for years. That's what that night was all about, mutilation, more than violence through sex. I really do feel as though I was psychologically mutilated that night and that now I'm trying to put the pieces back together again. Through love, not hatred. And through my music. My strength has been to open again, to life, and my victory is the fact that, despite it all, I kept alive my vulnerability. [Hot Press - February 23, 1994]

I was kidnapped and sexually violated. You feel like your boundaries have been crossed to such an extent that there is no law anymore, that there is no God. You feel like the Mother in you will do anything to protect the child in you from being shredded before your eyes. You're thinking "I gotta get out alive, I gotta get out alive." With "Me and a Gun," I hope that attackers as well as victims are listening. As well as judges, as well as lawyers. I want you to taste in the back of your mouth what it was like to be in the car with that pervert...

I went to see Thelma & Louise, alone, on a whim, and my life changed. When Susan Sarandon killed the would-be rapist, I breathed for the first time in seven years. Two hours later she wrote "Me and a Gun." [Glamour - August 1992]

I wrote that song after I saw the movie Thelma & Louise which brought back an experience I hadn't talked about for about five years. But as I was writing the song other voices rose, other voices that had opinions on what had happened. It was then I realized that the biggest mistake I made was not seeking help from people who understood. But then nobody was there for me on the night it happened. I had to call the East Coast and wake people up to talk. I called 20 people. I talked about it for roughly seven days and then just cut off the experience, not knowing that in doing that, I was letting it take control of me inside. How does a woman re-connect with her own body after rape and not associate sex with violence? That's the core problem. If I'd sought help that would have been different, I'm sure. That's what a woman should do. But sexually what happened to me was that I couldn't respond to a guy at all. I broke off the relationship I was having with a man, the next day. I'd been with him for two and a half years yet I started ranting and raving and telling him I didn't want him in my life. I then turned to a male friend and though he wanted me to go to the police I said, "But I'm never going to find that person again." I also didn't think I had a case. I don't want to go into the details but you've read my lyrics, you know I look at things from as many angles as possible. So, even then I could see it from the other side. Nothing would have happened to the guy! And he would have known more about me than he did. Yes that means he's out there somewhere and yes he may do it with another woman. But he'd have done it anyway. It wasn't a cut and dried case. With American law as it is and the fact that I'm an entertainer and the kind of performer I was -- like Michelle Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys -- I knew I was going to be set up. And I was not going to be a victim of another experience. But what happened then was that I became a victim of myself. You know I would have killed him if I could have, yes. But I was busier trying not to get killed... But sure, when she killed him in Thelma & Louise do you think I had remorse? Absolutely none. And if he walked into this room now, would I kill him? No. Because I wouldn't want to make it that easy for him. But any man who gets killed raping someone has crossed the line... But I didn't kill him. I finally wrote a song about it instead and that has given me the freedom. "Me and a Gun" is not about him. It's more about me forgiving myself. That's why my music now is so therapeutic, so cathartic for me. I made a commitment not to be a victim again, by writing and by singing as often as I can "Me and a Gun." It's like I refuse now to be a victim of my own guilt. I refuse to be a victim of not having a wonderful sexual experience again. And you are a victim when you can't allow yourself to have sexual pleasure again. I refuse to put all men in the same category, as I was doing. When something like that happens you do want to punish men, punish the ones that crushed the flower. But no one should choose to hold onto that hatred. It choked me. Sexually, I feel I won't be able to give completely and love to the extent, say, that I will want to have kids with him, for quite some time yet. I couldn't even consider that for a few years. I'm only beginning to fulfill myself now because I'm beginning to accept, and love, the parts of me, of woman, that I was trained to hate all my life. Particularly the bad girl I still can be. [Hot Press - 1992]

In America some radio stations didn't want to play "Me and a Gun" because of "too feministic" and "too realistic." I sing: "Yes, I wore a slinky red thing. Does that mean I should spread for you?" That's the way it is, yes? "But mister judge, she was hitchhiking in a mini-skirt!" Bullshit! [Nieuwe Revu magazine]

The rapist knows "Me and a Gun." The boyfriend of the girl who was raped knows "Me and a Gun," because he's had to live through it in a different way. The parents of the girl... We could go on and on... [Keyboards - November 1994]

I wrote it after I saw Thelma & Louise. And that had, umm, I had to let out all that incredible hurt and anger. The anger came. The song was written in the afternoon that I had seen Thelma & Louise and completed. It had always been a capella. And when I started writing itů I knew exactly what I wanted to say. I mean, I was almost in a trance writing that song. I was back there in that experience, and yet, another part of me was guiding it on. I felt like I was protected writing it, when it was over, when I had looked at what I had written. And the hardest part is performing it every night because, although I know I'm safe, a part of me has to go to that place to sing it. And what this whole process has taught me is, I'm not a victim. Although when I go in and sing it every night, there's a certain energy I bring to make it very real and then after the performance is over I can go and have an ice cream and have a life and say, "This is over. I can talk about it and I have love in my life." And it's really important to get to that stage. [Nomad (Australian TV) - Fall 1995]

The gun is about owning and claiming your anger, claiming yourself as warrior. [High Life - November 2001]

When you choose your character, you're stepping into fact. This is who you are. In "Me and a Gun," I'm the girl who's raped. That is the ground that I covered. I did not cover the rapist's point of view. Now, if I were a guy, I'd cover that song from the rapist's point of view, or from that of the victim's husband. If I were somebody who hated women, I'd cover it one way, if I were somebody who loved women, I'd cover it in another way. My having lived and survived this experience in real life wasn't the only reason that I could write and perform from that perspective. I could do it because I could walk back into that violated space and sing it from that space without wavering. [Tori Amos: Piece by Piece - 2005]

Difficult work. Raw. I had seen Thelma & Louise and after seeing it I went off and spent some time by myself. Days. Days. And days. Processing so much that I hadn't been able to begin to become conscious about. And it was through gut-wrenching pain -- hysteria, I think -- that the music began to come. In the quiet, in the silence, being alone. I couldn't speak to or be with anybody so I just went off to one of my secret private haunts that you go in the world You just leave everything you know and go. And that's what I did.

And when I came back out again, this song was walking hand in hand with me. It became something I had to sing to move forward. I had to claim it and be the necklaces of somebody I came to work with a few years later. She ran the Cedars-Sinai ward; her name was Dr. Rita Lynn. I worked with her for many, many years because after this song came out, I then began to retreat and put up all those shields again because I couldn't deal with the invasion of all the questioning. It became a whole other process [in which] people were getting off on that. Nothing was enough, so I needed to retreat. By retreating, I began to take a few steps back in my process.

So I began to work with her after Under the Pink, when things just got to a place where I needed to do that. And she would say, "We have to bead a necklace of truth." And sometimes we have to bead little bits at a time so we can assimilate. And that's kind of key, because in singing the song, it was the thing that kept me breathing and conscious. [Rolling Stone - December 18, 2009]

Live Versions

"Me and a Gun"
December 10, 1992 - London, England
Later... with Jools Holland

"Me and a Gun" (as Pip)
November 6, 2007 - Chicago, Illinois

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