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Tea with the Waitress

Bells for Her

Lyrics by Tori Amos

And through the life force and there goes her friend
on her Nishiki it's out of time
and through the portal they can make amends
Hey would you say whatever we're blanket friends

Can't stop what's coming
Can't stop what is on its way

And through the walls they made their mudpies
I've got your mind, I said
She said, I've your voice
I said, you don't need my voice girl
you have your own
but you never thought it was enough of

So they went years and years
like sisters blanket, blanket girls
Always there through that and this
There's nothing we cannot ever fix, I said

Can't stop what's coming
Hey, can't stop what is on its way

Bells and footfalls and soldiers and dolls
Brothers and lovers she and I were
Now she seems to be sand under his shoes
There's nothing I can do

Can't stop what's coming
Can't stop what is on its way

And now I speak to you
Are you in there
You have her face and her eyes
but you are not her
and we go at each other like blank ettes
who can't find their thread and their bare

Can't stop loving
Can't stop what is on its way
and I see it coming
and it's on its way

Tori Quotes

That moment is a moment, that song as you hear it was written as it was recorded. I'd been feeling something in my belly all day, and I told Eric, "I'm feeling something." He goes, "Like, when? Do you need to set the mikes up now or what?" I said, "I don't know, but later. I've got to eat first." It was around four o'clock, and he said, "Are you feeling something yet?" I said, "Not quite yet." He goes, "Well, like, feel it now, because I've been waiting for six hours and I need to record this." And I said, "Uh." He just said, "Just go in to the piano. Just go in." So I went in, and I was listening to the sonics of the detuned acoustic. All of a sudden, this thing has started that was [inhales deeply] and it came in that moment. Words, music, everything. And for one second, my head went out of it and had to come back in. It was during the instrumental part where I was going, "I can't believe this is happening." And when it was over, it was like, "Did you get that?" And he goes, "I got it." He pushed Record. It's like, thank you for pushing Record.

The main thing about "Bells for Her" is that there's no resolve, and that's what that whole song was saying. "Can't stop what's coming, can't stop what is on its way." All I can do is respond truthfully, and the concept that we'll always be friends, or we can always work it out, I would have bet you that I could have worked anything out with this person. I would have bet my hand I could have worked anything out. I'd be missing a hand right now. It'd be the one-armed Tori tour. I couldn't have foreseen this. And I think, how many people, in marriages or families, and they're going, "Wait a minute, I'm a rational being. This is a rational being, so we think." Of course, I'm a little -- I'm partial, but I would have thought, yes, we could work it out.

And when it got to the end, "blankettes," and the spelling changed, and when I was writing it down, I did it "blankettes" as in -- well, what it means to me is just blank women, chicks. Yet they were making mudpies and creating and it's void now. And if you talk to people that know her, they think she's a together, great babe. And if you talk to people that know me, I'm a together, great babe. And yet just couldn't do it. So there is a triangle on this record of the betrayal of women. It's not just that relationship. It's many other things in other tunes.

"Bells for Her" is the loss of a friend. From "Cornflake" to "The Waitress" to "Bells," "Bells" is the loss of -- and it's kind of backwards. I do the last thing first, and then the first last. But "Bells" is the spirit speaking, not the ego speaking, but the part of me that still loves a friend that for whatever reason you can't make a resolve. You just can't do it. The big lesson in this whole year is that there isn't a resolve for many things. [Baltimore Sun - January 1994]

We are no more than walking plasma, just stuff. That song "Bells for Her" is one of the most emotional moments on the record, because it handles the end of a friendship. You go through the life force and see how your friend walks out and you can't stop the things happening because of that, no matter what you try to do. Who tries to resist the life force gets sucked in. When you're confronted with a painful experience, a shocking deed of betrayal, you must be able to ventilate those feelings of anger and violence somewhere, but there are certain borders. You can't wound someone and just walk away. [Oor - January 29, 1994]

"Bells for Her" is the ending of a friendship, thinking that... this is my best friend forever, that only guys do this to each other. ...

Whenever they [women] would seemingly instinctively attack men, or whatever, I'd have to say, I don't automatically feel that way. I'm trying to rise above such feelings. Hatred for men, en masse, is as poisonous a feeling as shame. And "Bells for Her" is the scream of "no" before you cut the chord and let them go. The song "Yes, Anastasia" also has lot of that stuff in it.

A part of the music just comes by sitting down, playing and trying things out. But the best and most important work comes sailing into me like a spirit. Then I'm not the initiator, but merely an instrument. That's how for instance "Bells for Her" came to be. One day in our hacienda I said to Eric, our producer, "I think something will happen today." But all day nothing happened. I was standing in the kitchen, cooking something. I didn't dare to sit behind the piano. Because at such a session you must close out your critical judgment. It just happens to you: the music comes, the words, the chords, the singing notes. There is no time to think "Oh God, that wasn't a good chord," because then you're already on your way to the next one. When you feel something like that coming it is difficult to empty out yourself and to dedicate yourself to the process, before your producer. But if you break that enchantment, that's the most stupid thing you can do. Then I'm out of it for weeks. But that means you didn't have enough faith. So... Then Eric came to the kitchen and said, "Hey, the day is almost over, when will it come?" So I went and played a little on the piano, and there it was. Eric had pushed the "record" button just in time, it was on it in one take. That was "Bells for Her." Now I must learn to play it again so I can play it live, because I haven't played it since. [St Louis Dispatch - July 15, 1994]

Eric Rosse, who produced the record, had wanted to really work with the piano more than samplers. He (and John Philip Shenale) completely annihilated this upright and made this beautiful creation out of it. They spent two days detuning and muting it, doing all this stuff to the strings. [Virginian Pilot - July 27, 1994]

Phil Shenale had come out to New Mexico while we were recording Under the Pink to prepare a piano for "Bells for Her." He put nails in it and did all kinds of things to make it. It was an old piano. We just needed an old upright that could be reconstructed. I didn't know what the sound was until we found it. They were also taking silver balls -- those Chinese meditation balls -- and rolling them down the strings of the Böse, then recording that. So we were working with a lot of sound effects that were being generated from a piano. The technical term for this was prepared piano

With this album began a passion to explore ways of taking a keyboard instrument and changing its inherent character. "Bells for Her" planted a seed of possibilities for keyboards. So whether putting a harpsichord through a Marshall amp, a piano through a Leslie cabinet, or a Clav through guitar pedals, I began to realize there were some definite possibilities. But that would come later. [A Piano liner notes - 2006]

Possession can be used as a pejorative, but there's something humbling about it because you really know that it's not coming from you, and in these moments I realize that the muses are at work. I mean that literally, because I know I didn't write "Bells for Her." I was just there, and it came. It's been happening since I was two and a half. When it's occurring, it's almost as if every switch is on and I am just desperately trying to get the information because I could lose it. A lot of songs come to me in dreams, and they're completely arranged and I wake up and they're gone. Completely gone. [Under the Pink Deluxe Edition liner notes - 2015]

Live Versions

"Bells for Her"
November 9, 1994 - Montreal, Canada

"Bells for Her"
May 11, 1996 - New Haven, Connecticut

"Bells for Her"
November 13, 1998 - Poughkeepsie, New York

"Bells for Her"
November 3, 2001 - Dallas, Texas

"Bells for Her"
March 23, 2003 - Tulsa, Oklahoma

"Bells for Her"
June 30, 2007 - Frankfurt, Germany

"Bells for Her"
August 12, 2014 - New York, New York

"Bells for Her"
November 7, 2017 - New York, New York

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