“Silent All These Years”
Wanna feel old? The song that introduced the weird and wonderful Tori Amos to the world is more than 20 years old. I had no idea it had been around that long. That would put me in my very early 20s when it was released; it still speaks to everything I am.
I’ve always felt like I was invisible, forgettable. . . not quite silent, but near enough. The first time I heard “Silent All These Years,” I thought, “that’s me.” No, I was never a slightly troubled girl making some rather dubious decisions involving men and pregnancy (I’m not saying the decisions I’ve made about men were especially wise, just never quite this dramatic). But I was a dreamer, wondering if “twenty-five bucks and a cracker” would be enough. I was always a little unrealistic, a little silly. I didn’t care. I wrote my poems and dreamed of running off with a rock star. I dreamed of starring in movies with Andrew McCarthy. I dreamed of traveling the world with U2. I dreamed that everyone who ignored me or teased me would meet me years in the future when I was rich and successful, and feel a little bit bad about ignoring or teasing me. I dreamed of being noticed.
Of course the point of this song is not dreaming “what if I’m a mermaid in these jeans of his with her name still on it.” It’s about dreaming, but not “waiting for somebody else to understand.” It’s about taking control of your life and finding your own voice, your own power. People might ignore you, or say crappy things about you. But none of that matters. Because you are a mermaid. And a rock star. And a poet. You are whatever you make yourself.
“Hey, but I don’t care because sometimes I hear my voice, and it’s been here. Silent all these years.”
I’m not silent anymore.