“Past the Mission” was the third Single released from Tori Amos’ second Studio Album (not counting Y Kant Tori Read) Under the Pink, in Europe, Australia, and North America. It was the fourth released elsewhere worldwide due to a varied released schedule in different countries. The Song was Released in May of 1994 by EastWest Records in the U.K., in July of 1994 in Australia, and in September of 1994 by Atlantic Records in North America.
Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails, sings background on “Past the Mission”. (from Wikipedia)
Much like Tori’s Little Earthquakes Album, Under the Pink was part of an intense time in my life, full of big life changes, heavy emotions, and coming-of-adult-age situations. The 90’s were wonderful and terrible and enormous to me, and as I’ve said before, the Music was so vital to me. It weaved itself into my day-to-day, it got inside of me, deeply, and it acted as a safety net and rescue flotation device in a time when I was often “sink or swimming” it.
“Past the Mission” by Tori Amos
from the Album, Under the Pink (1994)
“She said she knew what my books did not.
I thought she knew what’s up.”
Tori has said about the Track:
“Past the Mission” refers to a personal experience with sexual violence, which I had a song about on Little Earthquakes also. So, the remark ‘I once knew a hot girl’ is painful. Where’s she gone? On this record, there are songs about the healing from that experience, like “Baker Baker” (‘Make me whole again’), “Past the Mission”, “Yes, Anastasia”. The idea is to rescue myself from the role of a victim. That I have a choice left. Though I can’t change what has happened, I can choose how to react. And I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being bitter and locked up. That’s also the thought behind the phrase ‘past the mission/I smell the roses’.”
Reading Tori’s reasons behind the Song make a lot of sense, especially as an adult survivor of sexual abuse, and a survivor of rape as a young adult. That said, it was never how I took the Song. Music is so subjective. It can mean so many different things to so many different people. To me, this was about meeting someone in color, someone maybe outside of your reach, or comfort zone, or all of the above. Someone who draws you in, despite fear and warnings. That’s who “Past the Misson” is/was to me.
We have all had them in our lives, or at least most of us have. Those people who have a light to them, a spark, an electrical current surprise. These are the people who push us a little farther, who challenge us, who make us open up parts of us that we did not even know existed. Sometimes they stay for a lifetime, sometimes they come and go in a flash; sometimes they are friends, lovers, strangers we share a seat on the train with, or a green-eyed beauty with a shock of dyed red hair who asks a question that has us reeling, and thinking for days after. They are part of our story, the pages that are loaded with the stuff of whispers and “I will always” remembers. (from an earlier post I wrote, from 2013)
Maybe the “people who have a light to them, a spark, an electrical current surprise” are meant to be Tori as herself. As part of the healing process is finding your way back to yourself, and out of being a victim, and out of being frozen in those places of abuse in your past. Maybe who she is finding “Past the Mission” is herself.
What does the Song mean to you?
“Past the Mission” (live) by Tori Amos
Hope you enjoyed Monday’s Song of the Day. I’d love to hear/read your thoughts on “Past the Mission”, and Tori’s Under the Pink Album. Share your thoughts in the comments below.