Deep Dish: Tori Amos — Hey Jupiter [Singles] (Review)
Tori Amos’s music saw a sonic change with the release of her third album Boys for Pele. The prior three singles, “Caught a Lite Sneeze”, “Talula”, and “Professional Widow”, put this on full display. Each traded out Tori’s Bösendorfer piano with a harpsichord. The album was much darker in tone. Tori had said this album was about stealing fire from the men in her life. The fourth single, “Hey Jupiter”, continues with this fire, however, here it is the burning ache of heartbreak. The album version brings back in Tori’s Bösendorfer with the accompaniment of Steve Canton on guitar. It’s soft and quiet. Tori spoke in interviews that this song focused on a personal hearbreak. “I was doing a lot of bad thing. I was in a love triangle…” Tori said in interview in 1996. It is speculated this heartbreak is about Tori’s ex-boyfriend Eric Rosse. The opening lyrics call out to this ache, “No-one’s picking up the phone, cause its me and me, and this little masochist, she’s ready to confess all the things that I never thought that she could feel…”. Her heartbreak over the dissolution of this relationship is palpable. She also noted this song was a tragic love story between Earth and Jupiter, noting the spirits had guided her in the shower and she had to run to her tape recorder to get the words down. This can be seen in both the title of the track and in the song’s chorus. There is also a since of growth here that Tori herself had noted, going from girl to woman. The 3rd verse really highlights this, “Thought I knew myself so well, all the dolls I had, took my leather off the shelf, your apocalypse was fab for a girl who couldn’t choose between the shower or the bath…”. It’s a growth through this fire, like a phoenix. She no longer is going from boy to boy, but finding her identity in herself and looking for something more substantial than the prior relationships she had. The version released on the single is a brighter, fuller version than the delicate album cut. The Dakota Version puts the harmonium at the forefront, using the drum track from “Sugar” (but slowed down). The track was rerecord for this. This version would be the one used in the promotional video for the track. She would go on the play this version on the harmonium during her 1996 Dew Drop Inn tour. It’s definitely a staple in Tori’s catalog.
The E.P. released in the States contains 4 bonus live tracks recorded during the Dew Drop Inn tour. The first of these tracks off this single is “Sugar”, the b-side from the China single. The track opens with a story about the origins of the song. “This guy really pissed me off cause I had a crush on him and this guy had been making tea for me for 9 months… you’d think you can remember how many sugars a girl takes in her tea after 9 months…”. It’s a beautiful version played solo on piano. A beautiful version of “Honey”, a b-side on both the “Pretty Good Year” and “Cornflake Girl” singles, is next. Tori opens with a brief intro on her dismay on it being left off her prior record, Under the Pink. “So this song is from Under the Pink, but its not on Under the Pink because it was kicked off last minute in mastering cause I’m such a ding-a-ling…”. The live track includes Steve Canton playing acoustic guitar. One of my personal favorites off this single is the dark and beautiful live version of “Professional Widow”. This version is titled “The Merry Widow Version”. The original is caustic with it’s aggressive harpsichord, violent drum beats, and Tori’s commanding vocals. It’s probably one of the darkest and heaviest tracks in her catalog. This version is played exclusively on the harmonium. It’s adds this broken nature to the track that really changes the entire tone of the song. She still commands the song, wailing almost chaotically during the songs back half, “Just like my daddy, selling his baby!!!”. The woman that was willing to destroy a man to gain his power, his fire, feels she’s crawling through the rumble up to the throne a shell of herself. It’s haunting. The track opens with some of her stage banter about her nervousness to play the track as she had only done it once prior. The final track is beautiful rendition of Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow”, title incorrectly on the single “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. My one detractor here is the sound of the crowd in the beginning. They are so loud and excited, you can audibly here the crowd hushing the ones around them as Tori begins the track. Her version is soft and breathy. Tori had said in an interview on Later with Jools Holland that Judy Garland was one of her favorites as when she sang, it felt like she was singing just to her. Tori’s live version feels the same, soft and intimate. It’s beautiful.
The U.K. version of the track takes away the live versions of “Professional Widow” and “Over the Rainbow” and instead includes the remix of “Professional Widow” (Armand’s Star Trunk Funkin’ Mix) (Radio Edit). This track was a huge success for Tori. Armand had gotten permission to remix the track and created a huge club smash. The remix samples two parts and repeats them, “Honey, bring it close to my lips” and “It’s gotta be big!”, over a club beat and funky bass. Clearly, the new clever sexual tone of the remix worked in her favor, as the track would go on to reach #1 on the Billboard Top Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts.
This single gave a stable track in Tori’s career. She’s played the Dakota version on numerous tours, notably on the Welcome to Sunny Florida DVD during her Lottapianos tour in 2003. The live tracks are all gems. The “Merry Widow Version” has been included in Tori’s box set, A Piano, as an edited down version removing some of the opening banter. This was such an interesting, dark, and creative time of Tori. I have to say “Hey Jupiter” is a must listen for anyone interested in Tori’s music. My must listens are:
- “Hey Jupiter” — (The Dakota Version)
- “Professional Widow” — (The Merry Widow Version) [Live]
My overall rating: 9 out of 10 friends to run to…
*Note: A very special thanks to the Drive All Night: Songs of Tori Amos podcast for providing me with more historical insight that I included here into “Hey Jupiter” and “Professional Widow”. I highly recommend you giving them a listen if you are a Tori Amos fan.