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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 64
Sun. Mar 31, 2013

“Cloud on my Tongue”
Tori Amos

1994

“♫ You’re
already
in there/ I’ll
be wearing
your
tattoo
♫”

It happened to me again today, I woke with a song in my head, no words just the melody of a Tori Amos song that I just couldn’t make out. Like a song catching detective, I had to literally play every one of my Amos tracks to finally remember the word… “Borneo.” Not only is Borneo the third largest island near Indonesia but it’s also one of the main lyrical mysteries in Under the Pink, Tori’s “Cloud on my Tongue.”

Tori Amos once admitted, “I crawled up in a flower when this one was being written it was safe there and I wasn’t ready to let this one in too deep it was already too close.” Amos has not revealed publicly who or what inspired “Cloud on my Tongue” but with a few lyrical detecting I discovered a clue in the last line, “♫ thought I was over the bridge now. ♫” According to Here in My Head.com, [my only source of everything Tori related quote, lyrically or otherwise], while singing “Cloud” live in concert, Amos would sometimes tweak that last line by singing, “♫ thought I was under the bridge now. ♫” It turns out that a certain Anthony Kiedis, author of “Under The Bridge” for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as legend has it, was such a big fan of Tori’s that he, allegedly, asked her to runaway with him to that same island of Borneo.

Another hint to the inspirational identity is hidden in “Cloud” lyric, “♫ I’ll be wearing your tattoo; ♫” RHCP’s Anthony is covered in tattoos, could this be another clue to unraveling the mystery man in Tori’s lyrical puzzle. Amos once recounted meeting Anthony in an interview when she said, “The most embarrassing was Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers came up to me and said, “Hi, I really like your music.” I can’t tell you what he said next but I had read an article that he had written in Details Magazine on a plane, a month before I met him, and he said what he would do and how much he loved women. And how he would romance a woman. So when I met him, all I could think was I feel like I was thirteen years old again and I have to leave. It’s hard not to like Anthony. Anthony [Kiedis] is just somebody that — let’s be honest about it — he’s just somebody that you could run away with. He’s that kind of person. But, you know, he’d run away with 10 million women, and I’m not a habit. I’m a lifestyle. I will not be a habit for a man ever so…it can never happen.”
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Tori has told a more detailed version of those of events when performing “Cloud” in concert as an introduction Tori said, “So this guy, a few years ago, mentioning absolutely no names, and it’s not the obvious, so you’ll get it wrong; 1990 something. I’m doing a show, right, somewhere in the South Pacific. And he waltzes in, right; a very, very, very quite attractive young man? My husband knows all of the groovy details. So he waltzes in, and goes…”Hi. I flew in from Borneo, just to see you.” And I said, “What are yeah? And here I am, and I’m going on stage. See ya.” And he goes, “Wait a minute…wait a minute. I want you to go away with me for four days.” And I said, “Your timing is very poor, young lad, because my boyfriend (who was my boyfriend at the other time) is in the other room, who is also taking me away for four days.” At another show, Tori concluded her story of this introduction to “Tongue” by saying this, “and I said, “Well, um, why didn’t you call first?” And he said, “I have the tickets, let’s go. Let’s go. I know you have 4 days off.” and you know what he said? “So?” And the funny thing is I promise you he would not remember that to this day and here I am writing a funny song about us.”
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Of course all of this Red Hot Chili Pepper theory is just that…conjecture but there must be something to “Cloud” because not only does Tori still play “Tongue” today, Amos updated by adding a orchestra to this Under the Pink classic. Tori talked about resurrecting “Cloud on my Tongue” on her latest Gold Dust LP when she said, “I had just come back from Down Under. I had spent some time in that part of the world and I guess it had an influence. I was in New Mexico writing the record and the desert played a big part. The light! This is where Edith Hamilton and Georgia O’Keefe went to paint some of their great works so the light there really did have an effect. And the expansiveness, the sky. It seemed like an endless sky. I wanted to include it on Gold Dust because it is an overlooked piece of music that I have really grown with.

Maybe “Cloud” isn’t about Anthony Kiedis, we might never know. But Tori did share some insight to her “Tongue” lyrics when she explained, “There’s a wonderful acceptance in “Cloud On My Tongue,” an acceptance of being in circles and circles again. That’s its whirlpool vat. It all leads to that. –I travel a lot around the world, and I went to all sorts of places, and I ran in to different people. Borneo had something that I didn’t have. It was a very free, hot, jungly place, and the people that, or a person that came from there, had something that I didn’t have that I desperately wanted, which was this no rigidity. When I say Leave the wood outside, what, all the girls here are freezing cold, leave me with your Borneo…Or don’t leave me with your Borneo, because I’ve had it before, and that’s why I need the wood, because it just — you can go now, you’re already in there, whether it’s pregnant or whether it’s just infused. You don’t even have to hang around and watch me disintegrate, because you’ve already done your job. You’ve already accomplished what you wanted, which was another scalp on your belt, and you did it. That’s not one of my more favorite men songs.”

Even though it’s not her favorite man songs, the mystery remains. We do know is that “Cloud on my Tongue” is more just a buried gem from Under The Pink. Before you go…now, I urge to “♫ kiss the violets as they’re waking up ♫” unravel the glory return to the secret lothario cloud that Tori Amos’ hides within lyrical confines of her mystifying tongue.

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