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Mr. Zebra

Lyrics by Tori Amos

hello Mr Zebra
can I have your sweater
cause it's cold cold cold
in my hole hole hole
Ratatouille Strychnine
sometimes she's a friend of mine
with a gigantic whirlpool
that will blow your mind

hello Mr Zebra
ran into some confusion with a Mrs Crocodile
furry mussels marching on
she thinks she's Kaiser Wilhelm
or a civilised syllabub
to blow your mind

figure it out
she's a goodtime fella
she got a little fund to fight for Moneypenny's rights
figure it out
she's a goodtime fella
too bad the burial was premature she said
and smiled

Tori Quotes

Lyrics, to me, when they become references so that Mr. Zebra can be who you want it to be, although you know that there are certain clear words -- "Strychnine, sometimes she's a friend of mine." And you get a sense of the characters, of who they are. And I'm sure the person, women that you know that are Ratitouille Strychnine, and we can kinda love those women, but you have faces that are different from the faces that I see when I sing about um, that cute little babe that's poisoning the muffins in the kitchen. But we love her, too. And that was important in this record. This is really the hidden sides of the feminine, the ones that get a little wicked, and the reasons that they're wicked. That's what is being said also in the story, the reasons, 'cause they haven't been recognized, that they kinda have to mutiny for me to listen to them so that we can get to the heart, and that's really the core of the record. [World Cafe - March 1, 1996]

In "Mr. Zebra" we pick up Ratatouille Strychnine, who we love because she's our little double agent who can poison people and get us out of trouble when they're hurting us. But she's tired, she's tired of the poisoning. [B-Side - May/June 1996]

"Hello Mr. Zebra / Ran into some confusion with a Mrs. Crocodile / Furry mussels marching on / She thinks she's Kaiser Wilhelm / Or a civilized syllabub / To blow your mind"

I refer to a "Mrs. Crocodile" in that song. Sometimes I disguise the people I'm writing about with made-up characters, because they don't even know they're in the songs. And that's how it has to stay. So instead of calling them by their real name, because they have these certain traits, I'll call them something else, like a "Mrs. Crocodile." [Women Who Rock - January 2004]

I sure needed some lightness. That's as good as it gets on this record. ... [The presence of the Black Dyke Mills Band was a suggestion from recording engineer Mark Hawley, Amos says, since at the time she hadn't realized] how all the mines had brass bands. [Boys for Pele Deluxe Edition liner notes - 2016]

Live Versions

"Mr. Zebra"
December 9, 1995 - London, England
Later... with Jools Holland

"Mr. Zebra"
October 10, 2001 - New York, New York

"Mr. Zebra"
November 8, 2017 - New York, New York

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