songs | interviews | photos | tours | boots | press releases | timeline | stories

press release | promo bio | discography | photos | tour | interviews

Tea with the Waitress

Pretty Good Year

Lyrics by Tori Amos

Tears on the sleeve of a man
Don't wanna be a boy today
Heard the eternal footman
bought himself a bike to race
and Greg he writes letters and burns his CDs
They say you were something in those formative years
Well, hold on to nothing
as fast as you can
Well, still
pretty good year
pretty good

Maybe a bright sandy beach
is gonna bring you back back back
Maybe not so now you're off
You're gonna see America
Well let me tell you something about America
Pretty good year
pretty good

Some things are melting now
Some things are melting now

Well hey, what's it gonna take till my baby's alright
What's it gonna take till my baby's alright

And Greg he writes letters with his birthday pen
Sometimes he's aware that they're drawing him in
Lucy was pretty, your best friend agreed
Well, still
pretty good year
pretty good
pretty good year

Tori Quotes

Mountain biking became a major event in my life for a week, the mud was so thick on the tires. We got there just in time to see the mountain thaw. The sound when these two merged was something like "thclulpleekooh" I said on an intake of breath with no lips moving and no throat usage, I like this word. And I liked the idea of the eternal footman saying "asta" on a mountain bike. [Under the Pink songbook - 1994]

Whether it bums you out or not, the truth is, all this happened, as much as the first record did. But there are other characters involved a bit more. There are just other beings involved in this one. Like "Pretty Good Year," for example, I got a letter from a guy named Greg in England. This one got to me -- it missed getting to me for, like, three months. But it just got passed around to different people, and finally somebody just -- I was walking through the record label in between the tour up in England, and somebody put it in my bag. They just said, "You know what, Tori? This has been sitting around here. Just take it." And I took this letter, and I opened my bag two days later, and I read it. It was a picture of -- he had drawn himself. It was a pencil drawing. Greg has kind of scrawny hair and glasses, and he's very skinny and he held this great big flower. Greg is 23, lives in the north of England, and his life is over, in his mind. I found this a reoccurrence in every country that I went. In that early 20 age, with so many of the guys -- more than the girls, they were a bit more, "Ah, things are just beginning to happen." The guys, it was finished. The best parts of their life were done. The tragedy of that for me, just seeing that over and over again, got to me so much that I wrote "Pretty Good Year." You don't really know what my role is. Am I Lucy, or am I that eight bars of grunge that comes out near the end where I express, and then nothing, everything else is Greg's story? I found that kind of really fun. The emotion is coming from somebody else's story. And yet it touched me so that I could sing it. [Baltimore Sun - January 1994]

On "Winter," the father sang to me, "When you gonna make up your mind? When you gonna love you as much as I do?" and in "Pretty Good Year" on the new album, I sing to the boyfriend, "What's it gonna take till my baby's alright?" There's no self pity in the song and yet it's a tragedy. It's a tragedy because I can't make him love himself. I can't do it. No matter how much I beat it into him, I can't do it for him. Funny how the tables have turned isn't it? [Creem - March 1994]

Who do you think Lucy is? ...I'm not telling you who Lucy is. [BAM - March 11, 1994]

In "Pretty Good Year," I refuse to give pity. That was the main thing. Of course this was the worst year of his [Greg's] life; it's a tragedy, this song. Yet... it's like the worst thing you can give somebody is support for their pity. Now the other thing in this song is it made me look at when a man doesn't respect himself: how does that make me feel? Okay, we're patient. Let's be fair; we're patient for two, maybe three weeks. And then what happens? We're looking at the friend that's walkin' in the room with him. It's ok for us to be, "Oh, I'm laid off and I'm having a hard time and I am misunderstood and not given a chance," but we get embarrassed [when it's a man]. I've studied this with women. If you're an exception, then you get the gold star. [B-Side - May/June 1994]

"Pretty Good Year" is really part two of "Ode to the Banana King." "Ode to the Banana King" is part one -- as you see, Lucy reoccurs. That's part two, "Pretty Good Year." So I'll probably write part three. [Beat - July 14, 1994]

I care about Greg, you know I do. But there's no pity in the song. If I pitied him then that's really condescending. I got this letter from this guy Greg and he thought his life was over. And he drew this picture with drooping flowers and glasses and hair to here; he was from the north of England. And he was a very good writer; I've found so many guys 23 years old that thought their life was already over. [The New Review of Records - December 1994]

People were beginning to burn CDs at the time, but my other self is an arsonist. I love fire. In another life I'd be one of those pyrotechnic lesbians on some movie set. So when I'm singing about burning CDs, I'm there with a blowtorch really burning the fuckers. Some people thought I was being forward thinking with that lyric, but there's a side to me that's saying, "Oh no, honey, I'm much more primitive than that." I'm like Lucy, the prehistoric thing that those scientists dug up that was millions of years old -- they might have been playing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" when they found her -- I'm talking about fire. [Under the Pink Deluxe Edition liner notes - 2015]

Live Versions

story / "Pretty Good Year"
March 27, 1994 - Washington, D.C.

"Pretty Good Year"
June 19, 1994 - Live on MTV

"Pretty Good Year"
January 23, 1997 - New York, New York
The Concert for RAINN

"Pretty Good Year"
August 5, 1998 - Albany, New York

"Pretty Good Year"
November 29, 2007 - Salt Lake City, Utah

"Pretty Good Year"
August 1, 2009 - Washington, D.C.

"Pretty Good Year"
December 5, 2011 - Washington, D.C.

"Pretty Good Year"
August 13, 2014 - New York, New York

"Pretty Good Year"
September 18, 2017 - Geneva, Switzerland

"Pretty Good Year"
November 4, 2017 - Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

t o r i p h o r i a
tori amos digital archive