Music Box: On The 5th Day Of (Jeffrey)Christ-mas…
…Jeffrey gives to you…FIVE…TORI…VIDS!!!! (In case you didn’t get it, that should be sung out like Day 5 of the original “12 Days Of Christmas“. I’m telling you, Christmastime brings out the sap in me!)
I can hear the distant wails of the my fanatical Tori-lovin’ friends from afar, who have pointlessly attempted and failed to convert my early Amos detachment, howling at the moon in disbelief.
You see, I’m not one of those who bow at the altar of Amos. After a stunning solo debut, LITTLE EARTHQUAKES (the genesis of the often accused Kate Bush artifice she can’t seem to live down), followed by the unjustified critical drubbing of the CRUCIFY EP (which consisted of startling, gorgeous takes on the Stones’ “Angie”, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and a heart-rendering reading of Zeppelin’s “Thank You”; ironically, her next semi-solid album came a decade later with the 2001 release of another covers assemblage, STRANGE LITTLE GIRLS CD), Tori proceeded to release one cockamamie, nonsensical piece of mooncalf pie after another, each one more ridiculously esoteric then the last. The empress had no clothes. You can’t convince the cavalcade of Toriphiles of this, though, as they will fight you to the edge of Venus for their Queen. Me? I can’t relate to the gobbledygook of her pen.
But leave it to the kooky Queen of Cornflakes to release her only wholly listenable collection since LITTLE EARTHQUAKES as a holiday album! On the elegantly titled MIDWINTER GRACES, Tori reworks seasonal standards by incorporating her own baroque touches, harkening back musically to the sweep of her earlier work, and singing solidly for the first time in as many years. Also, she authored some pretty gorgeous yuletide pieces of her own, including the poignant “Snow Angel”, the pagan Yule “Winter’s Carol”, and the delightfully accessible “A Silent Night With You”, one of the most luxurious original holiday songs in years and one, I’ll bet, that will be covered innumerable times. It’s a new seasonal classic, and it’s the one I wanted to feature for its splendor:
The collection as a whole is such an ethereal piece of work that I wanted to post 4 other tracks and decided on fan-made vids I found on YouTube (“4” others because of that whole quirky “FIVE TORI VIDS!!” refrain at the start of this post. Did I already mention that Christmastime brings out the sap in me?). These vids showcase how far a fan will go to visualize a Tori Amos work. Marrying image to song could be tricky and more-often-than-not rarely work (just watch the bulk of professionally made music videos to see what I mean) but a few of these are enchanting to watch, even at their most artlessness.
“What Child, Nowell”
“Winter’s Carol” (Visually, merely a still of her album cover. Sonically, one of the most divine tracks on the CD)
“Snow Angel” (Like a video version of a beloved snow globe…)
“A Silent Night With You” (I’m cheating here, I know, because I’m repeating myself. This is not really a “4th other” song from the album. But, it’s my favorite on the collection, and it’s also my favorite fan-made vid. I didn’t post this above because I didn’t want to distract from the actual song, but now that you’ve heard it, this is a magical amalgamation of Amos’ ballad with clips of Tim Burton’s marvelous “The Nightmare Before Christmas”…
Clichés are cliché for a reason – because they’re borne of truth, and believe this cliché – MIDWINTER GRACES is a must-have collection that you will replay every holiday for years to come.
Somewhere, Scott Batchelor is smiling.