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Muhammad My Friend

Lyrics by Tori Amos

Muhammad my friend
it's time to tell the world
we both know it was a girl back in Bethlehem
and on that fateful day
when she was crucified
she wore Shiseido Red and we drank tea
by her side

sweet sweet sweet
used to be so sweet to me

Muhammad my friend
I'm getting very scared
teach me how to love my brothers
who don't know the law
and what about the deal on the flying
trapeze got a peanut butter hand
but honey do drop in at the
Dew Drop Inn

sweet sweet sweet
between the boys and the bees

and Moses I know
I know you've seen fire
but you've never seen fire
until you've seen Pele blow
and I've never seen light
but I sure have seen gold
and Gladys save a place for me
on your grapevine
till I get my own TV show

ashre ashre ashre ashre
and if I lose my Cracker Jacks at the
tidal wave I got a place
in the Pope's rubber robe
Muhammad my friend
it's time to tell the world
we both know it was a girl
back in Bethlehem

Additional lyrics from the Plugged 1998 tour

transcript from Akron, Ohio
November 28, 1998


Never is just what it seems
never sure what you mean to me
plenty of girl to go around
plenty of girl inside my house

Give her a mile, she wants an inch
give her a boy, girl, he can fix
never sure just what it seems
never sure what you mean to me
she means to me

Muhammad my friend
it's time to tell the world...


Never sure just what it seems
never sure what you mean to me
plenty of girl to go around
plenty of girl inside this house
inside this house

and Moses I know
I know you've seen fire...

Tori Quotes

I was having a cup of tea with Muhammad and saying that there are as many belief systems as there are people; to not acknowledge that means chaos, really. Of course, I had to bring Gladys Knight into it. She's a bit of a goddess. [Details - March 1996]

"Muhammad My Friend" surprised me, too. I was singing in Christmas services [in 1994]; I was with my parents. I was watching the Nativity, and after a while I said to myself, "Wait a minute. There's something wrong here." We were singing "Away in the Manger" [Tori sings the first two bars of "Away in the Manger" and then sings the opening line to "Muhammad My Friend" with the identical first three notes]. I kept getting more and more into the perfect little love with the lullaby of "Away in the Manger." I started to get husky in the throat. I started to wonder who, with everybody speaking of the baby Jesus, should come up to the cradle. And I found that, of all people, I wanted to have a chat about it with Muhammad, because the Prophet is the one who supposedly knows the Law. So I decided that they needed to talk about the Law -- the Law of the Feminine that had been castrated with the birth of Christ. I believe that Magdalene was the Savior's bride, the High Priestess. And that Magdalene was not a blueprint for women -- meaning that this was a woman who was honored as the sacred bride, not a virgin. We're talking about a Woman. We have a Virgin matrix, but they needed the Woman blueprint: the compassion/passion, wisdom, wholeness. But this blueprint was not a structure that one could relate to Woman -- until now. Think about it. It's just been uncovered in the past twenty-some years. Even though women have been given power to be heads of corporations, we're talking about not just power within the hierarchy but access to the different fragments that make up the whole of Woman. [Musician - May 1996]

And then when you are so sure it's with the boys, we both know "it was a girl back in Bethlehem..." What am I doing? You are beginning to remember the blueprint, you are beginning to remember that this is not just because boys laughed at you when you were 13, this is a program that is going back very far. [B-Side - May/June 1996]

I sat there and started to think, alright, I've heard all this backwards and forwards from every angle, and fine, I'm into this love your neighbor as yourself, that's great, but where does all this fear come from about dancing the primitive dance, the concept of woman, their sensuality, their connection with all aspects of the self? I read a bit of mythology, with Isis, etcetera, and said, okay, where did all of this go? Where's the balance? Where's the female aspect of God? The fragmentation of the feminine is something that really started to perk my interest. That's what "Muhammad My Friend" is about, trying to find the female part of God that's been circumcised. [The Shepherd Express - June 6, 1996]

I was working with the dark goddesses during and after making Boys for Pele. Pele herself, and the Sumerian goddess Inanna (also known as Isthar/Astarte), whose name I cry out singing on the song "Caught a Lite Sneeze." Then, naturally, Lilith, niece of Inanna, as well as Demeter, because of the loss of a child with my first miscarriage. I had gone to the underworld to try to claim my daughter back. I went to the edges, the parameters of what I know about consciousness on this plane, to try to make deals with the Christian God, with the Islamic God -- a relationship I explore in "Muhammad My Friend." I was willing to do whatever it took to bring her back, anything, anywhere. I was negotiating. Just saying, If you will, give me my daughter, thinking I would get pregnant again and her spirit would come back. Not accepting that she'd moved on and picked another mommy, which is very hard to come to terms with. [Piece by Piece - 2004]

Good thing I brought it out when I did. It felt absolutely right at the time and necessary. It wasn't meant to hurt or be offensive -- it was a real conversation with an idea. It's very much of its time, but it feels honest and it doesn't feel vindictive. It provoked dialogue, but mostly because of the line "in the Pop's rubber robe." [Boys for Pele Deluxe Edition liner notes - 2016]

Live Versions

"Muhammad My Friend"
July 12, 1996 - Oakland, California

"Muhammad My Friend"
October 4, 1996 - New York, New York
Late Show with David Letterman

"Muhammad My Friend" (duet with Maynard James Keenan)
January 23, 1997 - New York, New York
The Concert for RAINN

"Muhammad My Friend" (audio only)
September 5, 2005 - Morrison, Colorado

"Muhammad My Friend"
August 23, 2014 - Orlando, Florida

"Muhammad My Friend"
November 16, 2017 - Dallas, Texas

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