A Sorta Fairytale is a song written and performed by singer-songwriter Tori Amos. It was released as the first single from her 2002 album Scarlet’s Walk. The song reached # 14 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, and # 1 on the Triple A (adult album alternative) chart. The song has since been featured in episodes of the television shows Nip/Tuck and The L Word. There are three commercially released versions of the song: the album version, the 101 Mix and the original single version. It was released as a CD single (UK/Canada) with Operation Peter Pan as the B-side, and as a DVD single (US) with the music video, co-starring Adrien Brody.
From the promotional CD Scarlet Stories, Tori Amos describes the song as:
“I think that there is a place where she [Scarlet] realizes that people come in and out of your life. Sometimes for a day, sometimes for longer. And, all of them make you what you are. You can’t separate these people out of you. They form who you are. Even the ones that you kind of say well…you know, I don’t know if I wanna be formed by them anymore (laughs). But, you are in some way. You are. That’s why, maybe, you don’t have to look at them so harshly because they have affected you. At the end, though, you know…it’s us as individuals with our…mm…with our love for the land. For something intangible, that when soul mates come and go, you’re never alone even when you’re standing just you in your shoes, because you carry them with you.”
From the Scarlet’s Walk bio, Tori says of the song:
“A Sorta Fairytale finds Scarlet back in LA with a man she has convinced herself is her life’s soul mate. ‘They take the big trip in the classic car up the Pacific Coast highway and across the desert. But as they go on, the masks drop away and they discover the fantasy they have of each other isn’t who they really are.’ They end up back where they started and Scarlet leaves. ‘They did care. But somehow they lost each other. Which is why it’s only A Sorta Fairytale…”
Tori described the song to MTV.com as:
“‘[Scarlet’s] in love at that point,’ she explained, ‘and [the couple is] taking that classic trip up [Highway] 101 and [Highway] 1 on their way to San Francisco, and they cut off because they are having the trip of their life, and they go out West to the Southwest. And that’s where the masks come down for them. Who they thought each other was is not who they really are. It’s one of those things where it’s not about not having enough love for each other, it’s just that you don’t know why you can’t make it work. You don’t know how you are losing each other and you’re sitting right in front of each other in plain view, but you can’t seem to make it work. And that’s why it’s a ‘sort of’ fairy tale, because she wasn’t a princess.”
The music video (see above) features Amos, as a head attached to a disembodied leg, falling in love with another head attached to a disembodied arm (played by Adrien Brody). The two creatures show signs of romantic interest in one another, until the arm accidentally hurts the leg’s feelings by laughing at her crooked fifth toe. The leg then flees by jumping onto a passing skateboard, and ends up alone on a deserted beach. The arm finds her and they consummate their love with a deep kiss. The act of kissing causes the arm and leg to suddenly start swelling up and grow their extra body parts—they finally become complete, “whole” humans by realizing their love.
Editor’s Note: This song reminds me of a past love, one that had its share of stops and starts, and a love that started in one city, and ended it another. This song, much like the initial naivete we shared, is indicative of the romanticism we shared, the way we attached fairy tale tropes and fictional characterizations to us, inevitably causing reality to come in and break the (not so) perfect picture. But, the story remains, the memory remains, and I do not regret a single chapter.