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Agent Orange

Lyrics by Tori Amos

Gotta tell you what I heard
from Agent Orange
mister suntan
mister happy man
mister I know the girls
on all the world tours
mister agent, yeah
he's my favorite
and they don't understand
he's got palm oil fans
yes, he's down and there
and everywhere
He's got an A to Z
an underwater city
where he swims
and swims

Tori Quotes

With "Agent Orange," I was hoping you could see this orange-bodied muscle man, and give yourself a giggle so that we'd transform this being from a mutilated skin person to Orangina. It's the idea of becoming Tang -- transmuting the chemical effect. You can't forget that happened -- you can't forget the warfare. So, of course there's that level. I just had to bring it in. I decided to bring it in as the muscle man. [Aquarian Weekly - Feb 21, 1996]

There's one called "Agent Orange." Naturally, if we're talking about the boy/girl matrix, there's going to be a war zone at some point in our story. It's kind of been a war zone from early on in the record. As the record goes on -- and on and on and on [Laughs] -- the vulnerability starts coming. Then you start sleeping with one of the lieutenants from the other side because you ended up at a country village and you forgot that you were on different sides. You know how it is when war begins: The strangest, craziest things begin to happen. That's when we start moving into something else with that break on the record after "Jupiter," with "Amsterdam," with "Talula." Now we're in the South -- that whole smell and taste. And we go into "Agent Orange." If we're gonna have a war, we have to bring warfare in. I decided to make him a bodybuilder because that memory has to transmute also - the skin. To become like tango, the idea of Tang, or the idea of Orangina, an Orange muscle secret agent who we love...

That song, "Agent Orange," is the one o'clock cabaret moment, where you've had a couple of Amarettos on the rocks, and there's just a sadness. But you know that sadness when you know your relationship is over and you're still alive? You know you're not dead. You've got all your body parts. You're all there. You've got a date. He's got a new love. [Long dreamy pause] And you go on with it. [Musician - May 1996]

[The title of this track most obviously refers to the toxic chemical used during the Vietnam War, but Amos says there was also a personal dimension:] It's an homage to somebody who, in the early days of tanning, was a beautiful shade of orange. [Boys for Pele Deluxe Edition liner notes - 2016]

Live Versions

"Agent Orange"
October 28, 1998 - Louisville, Kentucky

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