Friday, March 8, 2013

#434: Tori Amos-Silent All These Years (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Silent All These Years"
Artist: Tori Amos
Release Date: April, 1992
From the Album: Little Earthquakes (1992)

Quick Take: The first single from Tori Amos' 1991 debut, Little Earthquakes, "Silent All These Years" wasn't a huge hit, but many listeners who connected with the song did so on an intensely intimate level, a phenomenon that would spread and make Amos one of the most popular female singer/songwriters of the 1990s. The frail beauty of "Silent All These Years" captures the tentative yet growing confidence of a young woman just beginning to assert her independence and trust her own judgment. Its main body is built around a hovering chromatic piano figure (deceptively difficult to hear in its proper rhythmic relation) which leads into a lilting descending melody. Strings, horns, and triangles are brought in as subtle embellishments at various times, but are barely noticeable until the chorus, never interrupting the hushed intimacy of Amos' performance until the emotional release of the bridge. Even if Amos' lyrics don't always make literal sense, the combativeness and bile with which she delivers them -- even when her voice barely rises above a whisper -- are unmistakable. Formerly inarticulate and overwhelmed by forceful personalities ("I got something to say, you know, but nothing comes/Yes, I know what you think of me, you never shut up"), she has graduated to aggressively confronting a male partner: "So you found a girl who thinks really deep thoughts/What's so amazing about really deep thoughts/Boy, you best pray that I bleed real soon/How's that thought for you." There is an audible relish in Amos' voice, delighting in her newfound edginess, her refusal to play the nice girl, her willingness to challenge and shock, the discomforting violence of her imagery. And when her less straightforward poetry does connect outside its personal meanings, it's filled with novel but evocative imagery. "My scream got lost in a paper cup," for example, is a measure of how ineffectual Amos felt before finding the voice that had been silent all those years, that something so flimsy and small could easily swallow up the loudest self-expression she could summon. The song's bridge is an intense release of pent-up uncertainty, fear, and loneliness; a choir of interweaving orchestrations and vocal overdubs swell suddenly behind Amos and her piano, as she wonders whether the passage of time will improve her lot in life or simply render her "one more casualty." As the final verse concludes, Amos has switched roles with a formerly dominant male, but in victory offers him her hand -- the support she never received. It's a powerful, emotionally complex, and highly personal snapshot of a woman lamenting her wasted past, looking ahead to an uncertain future, and just beginning to take charge of the present.
Courtesy: Steve Huey (

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