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Thread: SOTW: Bells for Her

  1. #1
    she might not be so bold fullofwish's Avatar
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    SOTW: Bells for Her

    Let me apologise now for the tl;dr nature of this SOTW And also I refer to girlfriends in this post but I don't mean to exclude the boys who may relate to this in their relationships with their guy friends.

    Lyrics


    Some of Tori's thoughts



    During the listening party for UTP, we threw around all kinds of words about Bells for Her … eerie, ethereal, transporting, captured, delicate, fragile, wandering. These really made me want to do longer reflection on this song. It is in my top three and is so special to me. I see three main threads in this song: about surrender and about friendship and about intimacy.

    When I first listened to UTP, Bells was disarmingly empty, sparse, haunting. When the Plugged version came out on TVAB it made an immediate connection. Can’t stop what’s coming, can’t stop what is on its way … That refrain really spoke to me, about trying so hard to make the world stop spinning, about trying to resist what is inevitable but frightening because it is unknown. It was about learning to accept that there are things you cannot stop and no matter how much you want to run, to hide, to fight, you just can’t. You have to let it happen and see what happens when you’re in there. It might not be what you think, it might be everything you imagine. Whatever it is, it just has to be. At some point I eventually relinquished my desire to control and to know, and I fell into the album version where I could not know, where I could surrender.

    Lyrically it is just in a whole other class. We get so much music - from Tori and from others - about men and women, but a great part of what makes this so special to me is that it acknowledges what women mean to each other. What it means to come and go with your girl friends. Its not a power anthem for women or a dedication to BFF’s. It explores the same cracks we have with our friends that we have with our lovers, and how hard it can be when a chasm opens up between you that seems impassable. Sometimes with lovers you expect that that is likely to happen, it’s a part of the territory. But we don’t always anticipate that in our relationships with friends, and how confusing and hurtful that can be when it does happen. I love that Bells has a look at that territory and then leaves without an answer.

    Now she seems to be sand under his shoes … what does this mean between girlfriends? Seeing them run away from you, seeing them be treated as less than who they are.

    You are not her … how do we cope with our friends changing … the holes those changes leave …


    The story of intimacy that I find in Bells is really born of a recent experience and estrangement from my best girlfriend.



    Lastly, Bells is a song Tori has continually revisited and reinvented. Now, although I love most of the incarnations of Bells over the years, the original is still the best. The prepared piano is so exquisite in how it sounds and what it portrays within that sound, I cannot get over it. It is sparse, leaving space for the feelings of emptiness. I found a performance on YouTube of her playing a prepared piano:




    The Plugged version is dark, giving us the currents that swirl in between us and sometimes pull us below. My other favourite version, from DDI Boulder, is hurt - the blood-letting when you see someone you love leave, and you can’t stop it.



    I have a couple of other versions that I'll post later, but my internet is in a mood and not loading them up for me.

  2. #2
    Crimson Liberator Faust's Avatar
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    I don't have a ton of thoughts on this song, but I just payed a visit to the studio version and wow. I think my favorite version is the live 94 one you posted, but I think it's one of her best studio experiments.

  3. #3
    Let them eat cake! Yuki's Avatar
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    Great post Fullofwish! I don't often listen to Bells For Her but it's a great performance on the album and features some of her best lyrics ever. And in many ways, I think this song has come to be about our relationship with Tori, as fans. How things have changed, how we've grown apart, how she's been sort of slipping away and turning into somebody completely different from who we thought she was, et al.

  4. #4
    A Matter Of How You See It Kala's Avatar
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    I've nothing but love for this song. The studio version is perfection.

    Re: the lyrics - I always thought they were inspired by Tori's friendship with Nancy Shanks (Beenie).

    About the prepared piano:

    From the book Tori Amos: All These Years, Eric Rosse said: "We de-tuned it and smashed the soundboard with hammers and muted strings and changed tunings."

    And in the liner notes for UtP, Tori mentions that it "was recorded on an old upright that Phil and Eric demolished or made better I'm not sure."

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hannah.'s Avatar
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    Great post! The album version of Bells for Her is so underrated. The vocal is one of her most emotional vocals ever put to tape and the sparse, cold sound of the prepared piano really lets her voice shine. The live with the band versions of Bells do not do the song justice, IMO.

  6. #6
    Militia of the Mind toriMODE's Avatar
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    I didn't give Bells for Her much attention until the '98 and '99 versions. The one on still orbiting is magnificent!

    I never got "blankettes" until reading what Tori had to say about it on this thread.

  7. #7
    spring summer fall winter Potpourri Cornucopia's Avatar
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    this is one of my fave Tori songs of all time. i love your post.

  8. #8
    she might not be so bold fullofwish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kala View Post
    Re: the lyrics - I always thought they were inspired by Tori's friendship with Nancy Shanks (Beenie).
    I agree, and I am sure I have read something somewhere where she says so quite explicitly, but I can't remember where I've read that.

    I also always associate it with Beenie because of the improv intro on the DDI Boulder version where she says "me and Beenie had a little fallout" and how I think it is very much about wtf do we do when we fight with our girlfriends but don't know how to deal with or fix it. Or even if it can be fixed.

  9. #9
    A Matter Of How You See It Kala's Avatar
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    Tori talks about the meaning behind the song:


  10. #10
    Senior Member Soda's Avatar
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    This is one of only a few of Tori's songs that has made me cry. Really means a lot to me. I don't listen to it very often at all because I don't like revisiting the feelings, but it's very beautiful.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Spartacus's Avatar
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    Bells for Her is fantastic in all it's incarnations. One of my absolute favourites.

  12. #12
    Member Danielle's Avatar
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    when I hear this song, it makes me think of a long lost girlfriend. I bet her in 94, so it just fit. We were like sisters but we grew up and apart. The last time I saw her was at a Tori show, Scarlett's Walk tour.

    Lyrically, this song is beautiful.

  13. #13
    They took the gay right out of me. Buelis's Avatar
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    One of her best lyrics. I listen to the harpsichord version from 96 the most often.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Cairn's Avatar
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    Oh! I just posted elsewhere earlier today that this was the first song at my first show. It was and remains one of my all time favorites. I LOVED the prepared piano live. The studio version just captures something indefinable to me, something raw and pure. I can still get chills listening.

    I have loved everything about the delivery of this song throughout is incarnations, particularly the "can't stop what's coming" bits, which manage to hit a particular place inside me every time.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Carey's Avatar
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    What does "blanket friends" mean, exactly? Is it sort of a saying? Did Tori make it up?
    "If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days."

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