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Thread: Song of the Week: Datura

  1. #1
    come out and level up Waylon's Avatar
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    Song of the Week: Datura

    I'm pretty excited to open up conversation about this song, because it's been an enigma to me ever since it came out back in 1999. I have some theories about it, and I'm eager to hear what other people think.

    Lyrics:


    I love the way this song starts right into a turbulent frenzy of piano, vocal, synth, and drum loops after the "fuzz-out" ending of Riot Poof (It's my favorite transition on To Venus and Back). You're not exactly sure what space she's putting you in, but you know it's confusing and that the lyrical substance is going to be oblique.

    The first thing we hear Tori sing is "Hey. Get out of my garden." We then hear her voice in the background, quietly whispering the names of all of the exotic plant life that she has growing in her garden - presumably at her West Palm Beach home, judging by the flora that she names. I have always felt that this part of the song is about how her songs, her body of work, are like a garden of unusual, beautiful, and sometimes deadly growing things. Her mother-lion instincts cause her to fiercely protect these things which are so close to her heart. It's very difficult to protect those parts of herself because she constantly has people (her fans) wanting to come into the garden and sit with those flowers/songs/children. Tori is only human, and can only keep that space open for so long.

    In the bridge, she actually wonders if she has room in her heart to let in all of these beautiful, unique people, and allow them to cultivate their own uniqueness. However, she often feels like those people need her to bleed for them at a moment's notice. And that's really not very nice, is it?

    So she goes back to doing an inventory of her garden. She repeats "Datura" interspersed with the others...Datura is a plant that can be used as a very powerful psychedelic. When she repeats the word "Datura", she sounds slightly more disconnected. At the end of her list, she repeats "frangipani", another name for plumeria...the sweet-smelling flowers that leis are made of. Whenever I smell frangipani, I immediately think of arriving at the airport in Honolulu, so I always feel like she's taken us to a particularly exotic place at this point in the song.

    The song then comes to a fuzzy stop, and a slow, spacey drone and hypnotic drum beat begin, which give a feeling of floating in space. She repeats, "Dividing Canaan, piece by piece". I'll admit, I'm not really sure what this part is about. I know that Canaan is an ancient name for the area around Israel, and it was split into twelve tribes at some point. But I'm not sure how this applies to the song. Ideas?

    I like the fact that Tori has never performed this song live. I think it really emphasizes the point that Tori does have parts of her "garden" that she really wants to keep just for herself.
    Last edited by Waylon; 07-19-2010 at 07:57 PM.

  2. #2
    Militia of the Mind toriMODE's Avatar
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    I know that I read an interview probably around 1999 where Tori said that men are like Datura, some can be toxic if you get too close. Then I remember when Tori cut down Britney Spears for her song "Toxic," so I've always tied those two songs together.

  3. #3
    Militia of the Mind toriMODE's Avatar
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    Found it on yessaid:

    “I’m talking about the times when lines have been crossed by men. Men can be dangerous, like in the song Datura about how sometimes they can bring you gold and sometimes they can be the bearer of poison. The plant Datura is a hallucinogen and it’s like men. If you get the right amount you’ll walk into the garden and become a woman, but if too much seeps in in the wrong way and at the wrong time - it’ll kill you.” [Attitude (UK) - November 1999]

  4. #4
    :: dutch oven :: wout's Avatar
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    The most sensible thing I can say about this songs is:

    post28!

  5. #5
    HUH! HUP! HYAAAAT! Joey's Avatar
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    This was never finished, but it's brilliant.



    And as for the song itself, "Is there room in my heart..." etc. just may be my absolute favorite Tori bridge ever.

  6. #6
    Lyrical acuity and mum-smarts menju56's Avatar
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    I love when Tori goes all weird and experimental and vaguely proggy. I think playing with structure, length, production, and indeed subject matter was a healthy move. She was expanding her writing. She hasn't really returned to that kind of strange experimentalism in a big way since (she's definitely been experimental, but more within a more conventional song structure). I vaguely remember her saying it could work on the Summer of Sin Tour in 2005 back when the band was still due to tour with her, but then it became another solo leg and she didn't. I also believe she said at a M&G in 2009 she was working on it (but she also kind of laughed off doing it in the Sinful Attraction tour program so I don't know.) I am happy to let it stand as a studio creation.

    I also think she sounds very sexy when she's saying all those plant names!

  7. #7
    Threat level: Bitch in a wheelchair andy's Avatar
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    I am quite excited about this tread as well - I recently played this song for a friend of mine who is extremely well versed in solo hallucinogenic journeys. We talked about the song being a musical interpenetration of exactly that experience, but I'd like to sit down and write it a little before I post it. Can't wait to hear what people think, as I really love the song.

  8. #8
    Crimson Liberator Faust's Avatar
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    I struggle with Datura. I've gone through phases of loving it, hating it, thinking it's complete wank, and feeling completely indifferent.

    For me, I always interpreted it in terms of relationships; the first part of the song is a list of all of the plants in her garden, but there's a specific plant that is invasive and poisonous. The repetition of "Datura" could be representative of this invasive plant. The song came to me like this when I was struggling with several of my relationships with others and I felt that their presence was starting to do me more harm than good- poisonous, if you will. I go back to the quote that toriMODE posted; I think that's what I'm getting at, sorta. For me, once the dividing Canaan part comes around, she's realized that she needs to suck the poison out of her life and weed out the dangerous plant. Highly doubtful that she had something like this in mind when she wrote it, but that's always how I liked to interpret it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member jimthecello2's Avatar
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    PLEASE Tori NEVER attempt to do this one live!!!!

  10. #10
    It is I, you son of a bitch. blissgurl's Avatar
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    ^ Yeah, I think that if she attempted it it would never live up to everyones expectations. I love the first half of Datura, but I feel like I am the only one who thinks the "Dividing Canaan" part is booooorrrrrinng.

  11. #11
    Loves ponies. Hates phonies. Regina Phalange's Avatar
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    I'm not the biggest fan of this song. It doesn't do it for me at all, but I appreciate she tried something different. I remember reading the lyrics the day TVAB came out and being like "WTF?"

    While I don't know if it would work well live, I am disappointed she's never tried it. Not because I want to hear it (I really don't care much) but because that perfectionist part of her keeps her from trying stuff sometimes. I mean, she's used backing tracks before, so it doesn't entirely make sense. I've said it before too, but the "Room in my heart" would make a good improv/intro/mash up with another song, if nothing else.

  12. #12
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    I've always liked "Datura." Thank Goddess that dreadful "Zero Point" wasn't put on TVAB in it's place.

    I think I've always thought of "Datura" pretty straightforwardly. Most people I know who are into gardening see it as a very relaxing, sprititual activity. Alice Walker is a big gardner for instance, and we know Tori likes her.

    I love the way Tori says "awabuki virbunum" with this slightly smug tone (right before the bridge gets underway). It just sounds cool. I've always pictured her making the Beekeeper cover face during that line. (Even before I saw the Beekeeper cover). It's like yeah, I just sang awakbuki virbunum, no it doesn't make sense. And? Get there!This is how I do. Get out of my garden!

    And I don't find the Dividing cannan part to be boring. It builds. It swirls. It's dark. And I agree with menuj56, it's one of Tori's legit experimental songs. Most of TVAB really isn't all that out there.

  13. #13
    Loves ponies. Hates phonies. Regina Phalange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NUHN View Post
    I've always liked "Datura." Thank Goddess that dreadful "Zero Point" wasn't put on TVAB in it's place.
    I don't dislike ZP, but I don't see it fitting on TVAB as is. I wonder so much what it sounded like in 98, 99. Even though Datura isn't my favorite, it does fit the album, even the "sonic space" of it. But I can't help but wonder...

  14. #14
    Spoiler King RisingPhoenix's Avatar
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    If Tori ever does another tour in need of a taped, amplified "interlude", I think datura should be it! I agree datura live would be a trainwreck.

  15. #15
    This is totally one of my favorite songs off TVAB. I love it so much! I don't know why I love it...but I do. I like that someone said they hope she never tries to perform it live...would it even be possible for her to perform it live? It's such a strange song. But the best part of it is the breakdown, "Is there room in my heart, for you to follow your heart?" If you love someone, you have to love them enough to let them do their own thing.

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