Writing has been hard lately. Life has been rough and my emotions and self-esteem have taken a hit lately. Anxiety, insecurity, sadness, insomnia, and hurt do not make it easy to write. I know, I know, they say misery is creativities favorite muse, or that the best art comes from heartache, but I’m not built that way. Not always, at least. Sure, I’ve written my share with a broken heart, but lately, sadness seems to act like the worst case of writer’s block. Or maybe it is the waning optimist in me that doesn’t want to wallow-write, who wants to still believe it will all be alright.
Today I’m trying to write. I think I need to write, even if its hard to. I think not writing is making me feel worse. So, I’m turning to one of my favorites. Tori Amos was there in the early 90’s for me when my whole world changed. Her albums and songs stuck with me through all of the 90’s, and early 2000’s, as I navigated through good and bad times, ups and downs, love and loss, and so many changes.
The opening track from Tori Amos’ 1998 album, From the Choir Girl Hotel, “Spark”, came on while I shuffled through a playlist I made 3 years ago today and it “sparked” me to want to try to write again.
From the Choir Girl Hotel is Tori’s 4th studio album, released in May of 1998. Sometimes I think it might be my favorite album of hers. It was a departure from her earlier albums which had more of a minimalist piano sound. Choir Girl came across as more of a rock album, and it spawned Tori’s first tour with a full band.
The album began recording in October, 1997, with mastering complete by early February 1998. Following the trend set by 1996’s Boys For Pele, Tori allowed several songs from the album to be remixed. Remixes of both Raspberry Swirl and Jackie’s Strength both became club hits.
The album’s theme dealt very closely with the first two in Tori’s series of three miscarriages between 1996 and 1999.
“Spark” by Tori Amos
from the album, From the Choir Girl Hotel (1998)
Song of the Day
“You say you don’t want it,
this circus were in,
but you don’t,
don’t really mean it.
Don’t really mean it.”
Today’s Song of the Day, “Spark”, was considered a hit after it was released in June of 1998.
Tori has written about the personal nature of this song. She wrote “Spark” after suffering a miscarriage, and the hardships that she experienced post-trauma.
In a 1998 interview with Deluxe magazine she spoke on this saying:
“Spark” is about when I miscarried, in 1996. I was three months pregnant and very excited. All of a sudden I woke up one morning and started to feel bad. The songs started coming soon after. I was really angry at God. Going into a shopping mall and seeing some woman knock the head off her child, I’m going – ‘So this is fair?’ I don’t know where the spirit went, whether she picked another mummy, like, “OK, choose her, then! Hope you’re tone deaf!”
She went on to say to Q Magazine, in 1998:
“Y’know, once you’ve felt life in your body, you can’t go back to having been a woman that’s never carried life. The other thing is feeling something dying inside you and you’re still alive. Obviously when it was happening, it was already over, but in my mind, you don’t know that it’s over yet. You’re doing anything, thinking, ‘Oh God, maybe if I put a cork up myself, maybe it’ll keep this little life in.’ That’s why in ‘Spark’, I say, ‘She’s convinced she could hold back a glacier/But she couldn’t keep baby alive.’ You just start going insane. There’s nothing you can do, so so you surrender and then… start again.”
The song and album would be a kind of solace to me in 2000 when I had a miscarriage.
There are volumes and chapters, and possibly entire books worth of emotions and memories that I’ve connected at times to this song. Not just for the above, more obvious reasons, but for others, as well, that this song signifies to me. I used to be such a skilled escape artist. It was my way of surviving, my kind of cure. I became a grown-up girl with a gypsy soul who tried very hard to hide her scars.
But sometimes they are impossible to hide. The weather may be too warm for long sleeves, or someone, or something, unknowingly scratches at them, leaving me bleeding internally, and swallowing hard to blink back tears.
It is then that I feel like my arms are tied, along with my heart, and all the past hurt. It is then that my tendency is to run like hell. But really, all I need is to find myself again and hang on tight to her. To breathe and stay and survive.
To find my “spark” again.
“Spark” (live, 1998) by Tori Amos
And now, today, I listen to it and I find it a comfort when dealing with other kinds of losses and loneliness. It touches on other hurts in life, and rough times, that can sometimes seem insurmountable, but that waning optimist in me that I mentioned before?
She’s still here trying to believe.
She is still a “Spark” in me.