China

Music Videos

Saturday 1 October 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

Directed by: Cindy Palmano
From the album: Little Earthquakes (1992)
Atlantic Records/East West

This music video was shot in Cornwall, not very far from where Tori will live years later. "Little did I realize when this was made that I would be living 15-20 minutes from here," she told in the Fade to Red audio commentary to the video. "I had no idea. I had another life. And I liked my life, but I was falling in love with this coast. So, in a way, this love affair pulled me to people who also were drawn to it. Cindy Palmano, being a Devonshire lass, knew this coast very well. So it was her idea to come down. I remember being driven down in the night coming from some performance somewhere, I have no idea where. So when I woke up to this... oh, I was humbled by the stark, gorgeous place that I call home now. With me was Lisa Butler on makeup who I had known since the beginning. And we all were having a giggle, because I think, being away from the city, the paranoia of the city, I think everybody felt like we were out of time."

Funnily enough, instead of playing of a real piano on the beach —which would have been difficult — in the video, Tori is ’playing’ an instrument made of rock. "The piano was built for me by the builder there. He’s a real stone mason type. It’s not an actor, it’s what he does. So I was trying to find a way to get this little thing transported, because I knew that the ocean was gonna take her when her tides were coming in. But I stayed and watched till every last rock of the stone piano was pulled back to sea." [1]

While Tori sings on the beach, the man builds a little wall of rock that gets higher and higher. Tori remembered that this was Cindy Palmano’s idea. "As I remember," she told in the Tori Stories promo booklet, "we started to dive into the idea that creative couples make ’things’ that can rip each other and their images of themselves - separate and together, separate and together, which makes them separate together. Build walls separately. Build walls together. Egos are delicate things. Unfortunately, walls are not. Misperceptions running fast. So fast it helps set the stones in place."

Like "Silent All These Years", "China" appears to have been shot in 16mm and the frame rate was slowed down to have this particular effect when Tori moves and sings. A little footage during the credits of the Little Earthquakes VHS also showed Tori sliding and falling to the water during the shooting."I tried to avoid that, because it was January and it was freezing," she told Aloha in 1999. "And then I slipped and fell in the sea."


[1Fade to Red audio commentary to "China".