Tori Amos – Cornflake Girl

22nd January 2024 · 1990s, 1994, Music, Singer-songwriter

This was the first song I ever heard by Tori Amos. It’s also the last, when it played over the closing titles of an episode of Beef last night. A wacky song by a kooky redhead, it was a good fit for what is a wacky TV show about a man and a woman with extreme anger management issues.

It also has a timeless quality, notable when the music began (in the show), instantly reminding me of the theme for Succession, with its hard beats and chunky piano chords.

It’s such a dramatic song, and the piano playing towards the end is just extraordinary; as for her vocals, they swoop and soar and reach ecstatic heights in the chorus. I especially love the stop-start stuttering hook.

And as for the lyrics, what can you say about the opening lines: “Never was a cornflake girl… hanging with the raisin girls.” Or, for that matter, the mantra at the end: “Rabbit, where’d you put the keys girl?”

I’m not sure it makes more sense when you learn that Amos wrote them after a conversation with a friend about female genital mutilation in Africa: apparently the procedure was usually performed by a close family friend – nicknamed a “cornflake girl.”

One more thing I never knew about the song is that the “Man with the golden gun” bridge is sung by Merry Clayton, the soul singer who jousted with Jagger on Gimme Shelter.

I’m not sure I know any other songs by Tori Amos than this one, which came out in 1994 along with a second version – now a valuable collectors’ item – featuring her covers of Joni Mitchell’s A Case Of You, Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit and Hendrix’s If 6 Was 9.

Unusually, there are two videos – this UK version which parodies The Wizard Of Oz except that Dorothy ends up in Hell, and the US version in which Amos drives a truckload of women around a desert where a handsome hunk slices carrots into a pot.

Nope, me neither.