Take Me With You

dimanche 4 mai 2014, par Cécile Desbrun

"In all the compiling [for A Piano] I was stunned when I got the phone call from Mark that there was a previously unreleased track called "Take Me With You" from the Little Earthquakes sessions. I sat down with my memory reeling back to the time frame when the first incarnation of Little Earthquakes had been rejected by Atlantic. I didn’t remember this Song-Girl composition that was being developed during the second phase of Little Earthquakes which had Eric and Tori producing "Precious Things," "Tear in Your Hand," "Girl," and "Little Earthquakes." So there weren’t just four songs, there were five, "Take Me With You" being that fifth. But there was something in me that couldn’t finish the lyric, so the vocal was completely unusable when we played the track back at Martian Studios in March of 2006. Mark and Marcel looked at me and asked if I was ready to finish it now. I figured it had been sixteen years and maybe "Take Me With You" deserved a sweet sixteen. Because she was vocally done and mixed in 2006, she couldn’t sonically live on the Little Earthquakes disc because those were all finished by 1991. I remember now that the plan had been to retrack the song with the same musicians for Under the Pink, and it was mapped out to be an A-Side for that disc. But again, I couldn’t finish the lyric. Something froze. So her conception was Little Earthquakes, but sonically she’s placed with Under the Pink." ( A Piano booklet)

"I hadn’t listened to ’Take Me With You’ since 1993 because I thought it was lost. I was then going to try and finish it for Under the Pink. Obviously I didn’t, but unknowingly it’s really been with me this whole time. I was asked to compose the music for one of Viktor & Rolf’s fashion shows back in 2005. I began writing the piece based on the Biblical Song of Solomon, but there must have been a musical theme that led me in to the first two barsof the chorus of ’Take Me With You.’ Since I played live during the fashion show and had never done anything like this before, it ended up mostly as improvisation. But listening back I realized in that spontaneous moment how much I was still influenced by this song I could never seem to complete.

There are some things that when they’re not developed you might forget about, they just leave you. It’s a motif in your head and it comes and goes but never finds a home. I thought this motif had found its place in the Song of Solomon. I never thought we would go back and find the piece of tape that would contain ’Take Me With You.’ But stumbling upon this song many years later, I realized that her time had finally come." (A Piano booklet)

“When we put it up on the boards they looked at me and said, “Well, all it needs is a vocal.’ I said, ‘I can’t do that 16 years later.’ I thought about it and the song really started to call me to it. After 48 hours, I could finally finish the lyric and record it.” (AOL Music News Blog, September 11, 2006)

But actually, fans had the occasion to hear a first performance of "Take Me With You" in 2005, when Tori played it at the Viktor & Rolf Show during the Fashion Week in Paris. Dressed in pink silk pyjamas, she performed the song, part of which was an improvisation around the lyrics she had written at the time (the song was probably still incomplete at the time) while the models hit the catwalk. The song was supposed to be an exclusivity for the show at the time, as Viktor told The Independant on April 9, 2005. "Tori’s made the soundtrack for us. She will play it once, then never again." This exclusive version was extended to 15 minutes, so that it lasted the time of the designer’s presentation.

One of the previously unreleased cuts, "Take Me With You," was originally an instrumental from the Little Earthquakes sessions. Now you’ve recorded a vocal. Why was the track abandoned ?

"The truth is, there was a vocal on the 1990 take, and the lyrics to the chorus are the same. I’ve retained the chorus and parts of the bridge and used it as a skeleton. Then I worked around what was just humming in the verses. But the bridge was close to being there and the choruses were intact, so I haven’t changed a word. It made an impact, but you can’t put an unfinished work like that out. The way I was singing it, it was only a completed bottom chorus, so it wasn’t a finished idea. Maybe at the time I wasn’t able to really write what she wanted to be. I think that the journey that this song creature has made is really a story in itself. Sometimes I think about old visual artists and how it might take them years to finish a piece and how they’ve had to travel the world in order to finish their vision."

So, where did the words come from ?

"Viktor and Rolf, the designers from Holland, called and asked me to do a piece for them (in 2005). They’re quite subversive in their way and, being Dutch, they’re very liberal and their viewpoint comes from a place I think of as closer to where I am. They had just made this perfume called Flowerbomb, so when they asked me to do it, the first thing I thought of was the war in the Middle East and There Is A Bomb In Gilead (sic). So I thought, let’s go back to the Old Testament.

I’d been immersed in the bee culture, of the Bee Masters and the Bee Mistresses when I was making The Beekeeper. Some of them had shown up at my door before anyone knew about the album. I met this one Bee Master and he talked to me about the Song Of Solomon and how important that was for the feminine side, and how Christianity and Judaism and Islam were trying to kill the Goddess archetype. It’s a sacred verse to the Bee Mistress and the Bee Masters in their ceremonies, where women marry their sexuality and their sacredness. So I thought I’m going to take some of the words of the Song Of Solomon and this song just came. And it was "Take Me With You."

I retained the chorus I had written in 1990, then I wrote many verses that talked about now. It was an improv piece. I’ve done it once in my life. I went into a trance, I studied the verse and I had the melody. I had to trust that it would be a one-off piece for Viktor and Rolf."

So what happened to change that ?

"Well, then Mark called me from Capitol Studios and said, ’We found a previously unreleased track from Little Earthquakes called "Take Me With You." Why don’t you use it ?’ And I said, ’Well it’s not finished.’ So he brought it back and I tried to re-track it for Under the Pink. But I couldn’t. It didn’t work. The magic had gone and I couldn’t finish the thought, I didn’t know where it would be. So I put it away.

I tried to track it the first time that I met Matt Chamberlain, but again I didn’t have a verse. It was just a chorus. He said to me, ’Tori you’ve gotta finish this, then we should develop it.’ So for five days they just put a mic up in room and I did it. But if I hadn’t done the song with Viktor and Rolf, I don’t think that I would have been able to approach it again. I needed to take it into another form and then come back to it. I had to explore the Song Of Solomon to see what a romance can be in the midst of all that’s happening in the story. I had to experience it.

It talks about a father, but she’s agonising about her father’s torment. ’My cape was never worn/My father’s robe is torn/Between the cross and the mother.’ There are accusations in there. There is questioning. It does take you back to the witch trials and it does take you back to my father."

In what way does it relate to your father ?

"My dilemma with my father has always been he’s not the dark face of the patriarchy - he’s not a George Bush clone. However, I think that he would stand on the side of the patriarchy, because he would choose to believe that Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln are patriarchal, and maybe more liberal. But there’s something worthy about it. He would believe that women should be equal in the church but he would not agree, I don’t think, that you could have a woman Pope. Even though my dad is much more liberal than a lot of them he’s not a liberal. So my war with that way of thinking, as a minister’s daughter, came out in "Take Me With You." Though there’s love there, we’re very torn, because we do stand on the same side with some issues, but with others we just can’t. People have to pick sides. You have to decide where you stand. So that’s "Take Me With You" - its final point of gestation."

After such a long gestation was the actual birth an easy process, or did you need painkillers ?

"Well Mark and Marcel said, ’You’ve got to do this now or it’s gone forever. You can’t use it for the next record because it’s very 1990 and this is perfect. This is what it is.’ It’s a radical move to work off a sacrosanct tape from 1990. First of all you have to be able to think that you can almost channel yourself as you were then, and yet still be you now. A lot of people’s chords are destroyed 16 years later. They’ve smoked too much and coked too much, and so their voice has changed. Maybe they’ve lost five notes of their range. And I’m not saying I haven’t changed - I’ve changed a lot. But you can’t just think that you can walk into an old master and it’s all gonna work. It’s a very dangerous thing. You can hurt yourself. Some of my contemporaries have changed so much in 16 years that you couldn’t even contemplate doing that. Sometimes changes are for the good, meaning that I think some of my contemporaries sound like women now, instead of young girls. But that’s not the point. The point is, if you’re going to work with something that’s that old, can you and your style and your vocal instrument make sense ? I usually don’t get very spooked about challenge, I don’t have a hubris. I know how wrong you can go. You can get things so wrong recording. You really can miss it.

Live is different, because people are there with you. You’re all making love together in a room. What works coming off a disc is a different set of rules. So out of everything in the whole project, that was the one minute I sat there weighing up the options. And I looked at them and I said, ’Play it again.’ The track seduced me. She just seduced me and I knew that it was her time." (Record Collector, November 2006)