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January 29, 2010 / dukepuccini

Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998) – Conclusions

So I have reached the end of my journey through Tori’s imaginary hotel. It has been a great discovery for me and I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been acquainted with this album. Not all songs are very accessible, some require multiple listens to really enjoy and understand. There’s one thing I’m sure of: I will always enjoy re-listening to this album.

I have not listened to any other of Tori’s songs yet, but I would run and see her playing live tomorrow, if she came around. I will definitely check out her other albums too, probably starting with her debut album and her most popular songs on

If you enjoyed this album, show the artist respect and buy it, either as CD, LP, or digital. I’ve already purchased the CD from Amazon for $6.99. A really low price for one of the top music albums released in 1998, isn’t it?

If you click on the album cover below, you will be redirected to, where you can rate the album as you want. I rated it 4.5 out of 5.

Finally, here’s the list of musicians who contributed to the studio recordings:

sample guitar, bose, mallett piano, melotron, kurzweil & vocals: Tori Amos
drums, perc & marimba: Matt Chamberlain
bass: Justin Meldal-Johnsen and George Porter Jr
acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin: Steve Caton
guitars: Steward Boyle
programming: Andy Gray
pedal steel: Al Perkins

And a nice find – ‘Jackie’s Strength” features the Symphony of London, with strings arranger – John Philip Shenale and conducted by David Firman.

January 29, 2010 / dukepuccini

Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998) Part 7

Playboy Mommy dealt with my feelings of rejection

I was kind of looking forward to this track, especially because it’s the album’s third most popular track on Weird enough, as the song isn’t one of the singles, but it still tops Cruel or Raspberry Swirl. My initial guess is the word ‘playboy’ in the song’s title might have a bit to do with its popularity…

However, it’s time to stop speculating and listen to it:

This is a live piano-only version of the song, but it comes really close to the album version. It’s another ballad, touching again the miscarriage problem, extremely sad and touching. Underneath the story about the woman who is pregnant and her relationship(s) with the men in the army, you’ll find Tori addressing to her lost baby girl. Here’s a quick link to the lyrics and some interesting comments.

And last but not least comes ‘Pandora’s Aquarium’, which, in Tori’s own words, was the very thing that broke her out of her suffering over her loss and helped her move on and create this wonderful album: “You know when you’ve cried and cried, and you really can’t cry anymore, so you’re very quiet? I started hearing the water, and “Pandora” – the last song on the record – came to me. She was sort of warning me that there are so many feelings under the rocks that I needed to turn into. She told me, ‘You need to dive into this one, Tori, because your healing is in there. Once you go, it’s a whole new journey, but you’ve got to metaphorically leave this little dock and come with me to find out what’s really in this ocean of feelings.’ So i did. And that’s where I met these songs.”

The song does flow like water and unfortunately there are no professional live recordings online, although she has been playing this song in many of her tours. So here’s a bootleg video from her ’98 Choirgirl tour – not the best sound, but decent enough:

Lyrics here.

January 27, 2010 / dukepuccini

Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998) Part 6

This song is my revenge

Track number eight ‘She’s Your Cocaine’ is something else, a different approach, driven by drums, electric guitars and bass. The only song of this kind on the album. Tori probably decided to do the song this way to emphasize the idea of revenge. You can listen to a nice live version of this song on, very similar to the album version. The lyrics and Tori’s words make me think this song came out of jealousy as well.

Next comes ‘Northern Lad’, another piano-driven ballad, which is very emotional and direct. This song probably has the least cryptical lyrics out of all. Check them out and the long discussion here.

Song number ten, ‘Hotel’, is the closest we get to a title track. It’ is a diverse song, often changing time signatures and featuring different keyboards effects.

The lyrics are pretty cryptic again and could be interpreted in many different ways. Here they are.

January 12, 2010 / dukepuccini

Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998) Part 5 ‘iieee’ and ‘Liquid Diamonds’

‘iieee’ came out of a sense of loss and sacrifice

Halfway through the album, Tori returns to the miscarriage subject with the hypnotic song ‘iieee’. Watch her explain where it comes from and then enjoy an amazing live performance:

There is another good live version of the track, taken from ‘In Session’. Lyrics and discussions here.

‘Liquid Diamonds’ is up next and even though it’s been played live over several tours, there are no professional live recordings available. However, one fan was kind enough to create a custom video for the song:

January 6, 2010 / dukepuccini

Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998) Part 4 ‘Jackie’s Strength’

Inspired by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy

Second single and second most popular song from the album on, the fifth track entitled Jackie’s Strength is a simple but very emotional song, constructed around the piano and flavored with string arrangements:

There are quite a few live versions available on Youtube and the best of them probably are: the performance at David Letterman (1998), the one from 2003 and the one from 2009 in Vienna.

Being inspired by president Kennedy’s wife and her ability to lead the country after her husband’s assasination, the song deals with Tori’s feelings of uncertainty about getting married, questioning herself if the man she was going to marry was the ‘real thing’. Follow the lyrics here.