Tori Amos :: Gold Dust
I love synchronicity in life, and in art. The way my mind can fixate momentarily on something, or a conversation I find myself in and the subject it lands on, and then I find myself turning around and stumbling upon something connected to my thoughts or conversation. I am still in my lifelong search for my truths and beliefs, and I still persist to know that I do not know the answers to life, but moments where connections seem to weave together so seemlessly remind me of my philosophy studies in college, and the collective consciousness. I close my eyes and imagine a cord connecting all of us, in my mind through music, linking us all together into something more remarkable than we are as individuals.
It also cannot help but remind me how much hope and beauty there really is in this life. Sometimes I need that reminder.
Yesterday I did a relook at one of my favorite albums, Tori Amos’ Under the Pink, and since exploring those music tinged memories I have had Tori’s music on my mind. So, today I sit here, perusing music selections to review that are new to the world today, and I find this collection of music from Tori titled after one of my all-time favorite songs of hers, Gold Dust. Tori herself describes this album as this (from toriamos.com):
“Gold Dust is about celebrating over 20 years of all the conversations that have happened which inspired many of these songs and it’s a collection of new recordings of where they are now and who they have become.” (Tori Amos)
On Gold Dust, Tori headed into the studio with the Netherlands’ 52-member Metropole Orchestra and re-recorded tracks in order to both re-visit and re-tell her song-stories. This is so moving to me, and so deeply relevent, as I find myself some 20 years later listening and culling together my memories of who I was when some of her songs first came into my life. That personal re-hashing is a re-telling of its own as our perspective changes cannot help but alter the way we express a memory.
These are songs from a 20 year time period in Tori’s career. I have been a mother for 20 years, and Tori’s music has been there through that, at many times helping to glue me together as Ihave stumbled and stood back up again, trying to be a better person for my daughter, and later for my second daughter and son, and for myself.
Hearing these songs again in their re-visited versions is a breathtaking experience. Winter still makes me cry, my chest tightening in that kind of pain that only music can bring. That question sung of “when you going to love you as much as I do” still hurts to hear, and sing to, as I reflect on people in my life who have struggled so badly trying to even like themselves, failing at it over and over as I stood there loving them so much, powerless to empart that love in a way that would help heal them.
Jackie’s Strength speaks to me even more now as I listen to it during the “honeymoon” phase of a third marriage, a sometimes confusing time when it is not the first time for me. Experience and age have evolved how I take in lines of this song, some of them delivering a punch where they once only lightly kissed me. “So, I turn myself inside out in hopes someone will see” still carves tiny scars in my soul as the line always has, though, as I believe it always will.
Flying Dutchman, a song I often forget that I love, is refreshing to hear amongst these song choices. I find myself singing immediately along, smiling widely. This has always been one of her happier songs to me, a song I remember singing to my daughter in the early mornings, as I pushed her down the street in her umbrella stroller, off to fetch coffee from the Winged Heart cafe.
Yes, Anastasia sounds larger than life and so very theaterical with the accompaniment of the Metropole Orchestra. The song, and the emotional power of it, expands and flies far and wide into space in an incredible way. It feels as if this song becomes more historical in its signifcance, bolder and brighter, and allt he more heartbreaking especially with the echoing “we’ll see how brave you are, we’ll see how fast you keep running.”
Cloud on My Tongue is the only song on here there I honestly prefer to hear in its entirety in its orignal Under the Pink form. I think that something was lost when making this bigger and more polished. The raw vulnerability and stripped quality of the original is so powerful and meaningful to me, and it is just absent here on this album. I especially do not like the computerized toying with Tori’s voice during the “circles” refrains.
A forever favorite, Precious Things, is still a powerhouse of a song. This re-telling of it seems to bring it to life even harder, the sting and slap of some of the lines unforgettable. I have always preferred hearing this song done live, and this version comes much closer to the feeling of hearing it live than the originally recorded version ever did. The ex-parochial school girl still scream-sings the line “I want to smash the faces of those beautiful boys, those Christian boys, so you can make me cum that doesn’t make you Jesus“, though it is during that refrain that I feel this version may be too softened with the inclusion of the orchestra. It works much better during the “where the pretty girls are” turn and she does do the “girl” growl that I love so much live, I just wish it had been stretched out a little longer here. The song loses something as it winds down for me, diminishing some of its strength and power as it comes to an end that the song had at the start, on this version.
Silent All These Years, one of the first songs I fell in love with of Tori’s, is truly gorgeous on this album. I adore the lilt in her voice and the way it both teases and tears at the heartstrings. Tori sounds years younger and older here, all at the same time; a coming together of naivete and wisdom that is impossible not to relate to as it is combination of emotion that I often feel, at age 43.
On a whole this album is a beautiful collection of well-loved songs that are brought to life with some new flourish and perspective paint brushed across them. Of course, as any long-time fan like myself will say, there are songs I wish Tori had included, but is that not always the case with any “hits” collections? My favorites are not always everyone else’s favorites.
That said, some of the choices are delightfully surprising to me, especially with the inclusion of Gold Dust, which has now gone from being a closing song to the title track. I loved this song from the first time I heard it, and not just because my name is in it, and it is even more lush and gorgeously moving here.
I would love to hear from any readers who are fellow Tori fans as to how you feel about this new release. I know all too well what an opinionated bunch we can all be, but I still would love to hear/read your comments and thoughts, so please share.
Trailer for Gold Dust