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Playboy Mommy

Lyrics by Tori Amos

In my platforms
I hit the floor
fell face down
didn't help my brain out
then the baby came
before I found
the magic how
to keep her happy
I never was the fantasy
of what you want
wanted me to be

but don't judge me so harsh little girl
so you got a playboy mommy
but when you tell them my name
you wanna cross that bridge all on your own
little girl they'll do you no harm
cause they know your playboy mommy
but when you tell "em my name
from here to Birmingham
I got a few friends

I never was there was there when it counts
I get my way
you're so like me
you seemed ashamed
ashamed that I was
a good friend of American soldiers
I'll say it loud here by your grave
those angels can't
ever take my place

Don't judge me so harsh little girl
you got a playboy mommy
but when you tell "em my name
you wanna cross that bridge all on your own
little girl they'll do you no harm
cause they know your playboy mommy
but you just tell "em my name
you tell "em my name
I got a few friends

somewhere where the the orchids grow
I can't find those church bells
that played when you died
played Gloria
talkin bout

don't judge me so harsh little girl
you got a playboy mommy
come home
but when you tell them soldiers my name
and cross that bridge all on your own
little girl they'll do you no harm
cause they know your playboy mommy
but I'll be home I'll be home
to take you in my arms

Tori Quotes

In "Playboy Mommy" I'm much more voluptuous, you know, but I'm allowed to do that because I'm the writer, so I can make myself that way. And I saw myself in a different way than I am with a thirteen year old daughter. And I saw that mother/daughter relationship of just not being enough. I saw my mother, you know. I saw how I felt when I was... not ashamed, but that moment of, Why couldn't you be the thing that I want you to be? and realized that I would probably have that experience with my own daughter. [from the choirgirl hotel electronic press kit video]

I was pregnant, she softly states. I got pregnant on tour, it was a surprise, but I was deeply thrilled about it. I was almost three months pregnant... Christmas '96... and I miscarried. And it was very difficult. The sorrow was just really deep. I know some people who've gone through it and they move on quickly. Everybody responds differently to a loss. I got quite attached to the spirit of this being... It was a girl. That's why on "Playboy Mommy," I sing, "Don't judge me so harsh little girl." I had so many responses to it before I could get to the place where I am now. You see people hit their kids in stores and you just go, What force of judgment gives these people these little lives? I have a lot of questions right now. I know it's a free-will planet. Things happen. But you know that saying, Bad things don't happen to good people? That's a painful lie, and it hits you on such a core level. I know now that I have an appreciation for the miracle of life that I didn't have, but I don't believe in the saying that it all happens for the best... it's just not appropriate. [Q magazine - May 1998]

I saw her [Playboy Mommy] very much as a Magdalene figure. I saw her as someone who had become quite disreputable because of the means she used to survive. There was something in me that aligned with this disreputable woman that people have a hard time with. Sometimes you have to accomplish things in not-so-pretty ways. I saw strength in her. She can do things that those women accepted in the literary circles cannot do because she can swallow... This woman in "Playboy Mommy," she'll swallow. She'll swallow a billion seeds to protect this little girl [Alternative Press - July 1998]

I had written this thing and I couldn't get the first line. And I was in France with my friend Beenie. I go a lot of places with my friend Beenie. And um, we were with another friend of hers and her mother. Anyway, two of them are having an argument, right? So I decided champagne for everybody was a good idea. And that's what you do in France. And it was like after lunch, so that's good, that's improvement. And um anyway they make very good champagne -- we had Krug -- and if, you know, if you ever have that experience just like even if you have to steal it it's really worth the experience. So okay, I sent champagne around because everybody's arguing and then Beenie comes to like update me on the fighting and who's winning. And so I'm standing at the top of the stairs I'm in this shmoozy suite, I'm embarrassed to say it but I was. And so we're standing at the top and she goes, you know, "Let's go out to the deck and talk about this." So it's one of those round staircases like they have in the Love Boat. And so I'm in these Prada platforms and um I'm at the top of the stairs and I fall all the way down the stairs 'cause I trip on my Prada shoes, serves me right. So I trip all the way down and I lie flat on my face and I swear to Christ I'm lying flat and my nose is like um taped to the rug. And I said, "Oh Beenie, I need more champagne, this is so horrible." But I laid there and I said, "Oh my God, Beenie, oh my god, I have the first line." [Seattle End Sessions - September 11, 1998]

So, while the guys change basses and stuff, I'll tell ya a little story about this next song. I don't do that much anymore, do I, Matt? I just don't tell stories much; I've gotten shy in my old age. Anyway, um, the strangest thing... so anyway, this little story: I lived in the tropics and the crew was down there and Marcel was -- I think you were nude, Marcel... Strange. Odd. And, uh, he had run into -- what did you run into -- a pier. Anyway, he was almost dead. He was on a pier so we, of course we had loads of pharmaceuticals because.. that's ah.. that's our Goddess! That's the great American health food, heh, that's what I love. And of course, um, but only in moderation, balance. And of course, um, while all this was happening, you know strawberry margaritas going into the tum-tum, I had just lost the baby, and ah, this song started to come. And everybody started to kinda weave in and out of this beach house and ah, I couldn't finish it, for some reason I just couldn't. I wrote this first verse twenty times. I had my wisdom teeth out and I was singing it to my mother going, "Mother what do you think of these lyrics?" Something about, you know, my head, and it hurts, and da da da da, just, she goes, "You're outta your mind, you just had your wisd-- this is terrible!" And I said, "ah okay, thanks mom." And then it took me a while until I went with Beenie to a... Champagne... you THINK I'm an alcoholic and a drug addict and I'm NOT! It's one of those things. It's not the same! But anyway, so I'm in the Champagne, right, with Beenie and we were having an argument with one of her, uh, friends, there were four of us women and my god, four women together oh god it can be ugly. So um... cats for days and P.U.! Anyway, so there was a war going on and one woman was having her throat removed and um, Beenie of course was gonna win, and I just, I just came into my room freaked out by the whole thing and schmoozy me, my uh, spiral staircase, mm mmm... So I come down in my Prada shoes and I trip all the way down the steps and I fall all the way down to the floor and so, uh, when I looked at Beenie and said, [sings] "in my platforms I hit the floor..." [Binghamton, NY concert - November 10, 1998]

It's an important song to me. "Playboy Mommy" came from writing "Spark," writing at the Beach House after I'd miscarried. Although Pele is one of the most soul-searching records about blood-letting, choirgirl is about loss and emptiness. This was a very dark time for me. I kept seeing all these children that had been separated from their mother. They seemed to be coming through the door with the songs ushering them in. I saw the songs shadowed by these children, and it appeared to me as this hotel with this choir ushering themselves in and out through doorless entrances. Throughout this time I would lay on the sand, on the earth, and I would cry to the Great Mother for the loss of this Being.

She didn't come back at that time. But I think that the songs did instead, and I think that was the gift. choirgirl was about beginning to see that there are different kinds of fertility and creation. When you've taken for granted for so long that you're a composer, when it has become second nature to you, you forget the fertility and creation in that. I had to acknowledge that maybe that is what I needed to value for a little while. So "Playboy Mommy" was something that was really healing for me. For this box set, to have "Spark," as it was from that time, sit next to a new version of "Playboy Mommy," which is a version remixed after Natashya was born, is indicative of the shift. It has a spirit to it now, a real hip sway, which was captured by the musicians at the time and was recorded onto tape but was not highlighted by me in the original mix. Maybe that's because I could only see the sadness of "Playboy Mommy" in 1997, so I pushed it in that direction. This works for "Spark" in all its angst, but "Playboy Mommy" has a fertility about her that I couldn't include at the time because consumed by all the paid I had cut the umbilical chord of her fertility. [A Piano liner notes - 2006]

Live Versions

"Playboy Mommy"
April 26, 1998 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"Playboy Mommy"
October 13, 2001 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"Playboy Mommy"
April 25, 2003 - San Antonio, Texas

"Playboy Mommy"
September 25, 2009 - Vienna, Austria

"Playboy Mommy"
November 24, 2009 - Brisbane, Australia

"Playboy Mommy"
June 6, 2014 - Vienna, Austria

"Playboy Mommy"
November 22, 2017 - Portland, Oregon

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