General Info

Blood Roses

Monday 8 August 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

written by Tori Amos

Bösendorfer, Harpsichord through Marshall, Harmonium Organ, vocal - Tori Amos
Delgany Church Bells - Marcel van Limbeek

Musically, the song, which Tori described as “baroque gone askew” to Making Music in January 1996, is quite edgy and a lot of effort was put in its recording. The May 1996 article of Musician magazine focused a lot on it as journalist Robert L. Doerschuk visited Tori in Ireland in 1995 while she was recording that particular track.

In this fascinating (and at times pretty technical) piece, we learn that the track was basically recorded in different pieces. “Right now, we’re only dealing with harpsichord/vocal, or piano/Marshall, or piano/Leslie,” Tori explained. “We’re not even in the big tracks, the involved arrangements. But one little thing can completely change who she [the character in Blood Roses] is. So I’ll sit there and go, ‘This woman is five years younger than the woman who’s singing this song. The woman who’s five years younger does not know this song. She cannot sing it.’”

Tori, who assumed alone the role of producer for the first time, was especially sensible to the use of mics and reverb on the track. “...the dynamics of this piece are very extreme, and I have to get it on tape without squashing things too much - especially the harpsichord, which they did squash. But what it is is, they harnessed her. Just like they - quote, unquote - ’had to do.’ I know when we’ve lost a frequency of her. The ’c’ word is not ’cunt’ these days for me - it’s ’compression.’ That’s what I told them: When you have a woman coming out of a church, and she’s yelling and expressing something, and she’s screaming, you do not try to make that okay. You get in trouble when you try to trim the edges. But at the same time, she’s all over the road. I was ramming into that Neumann. I’m sorry, but that mike was a fucking fried egg. We kept changing the reverb to make her a plate [reverb] instead of a room.

She kept telling me, in my ear ’Get me a plate.’ Then the plate worked. The problem with the plate, though was that we kicked it up half a dB in parts because that’s what’s telling a story. Mark said to me, ’Yeah, I like the plate, but it’s not siting in the track the whole time.’ There are times when she’s removed, in another room from the track. So it’s about kicking that reverb up beneath the plate reverb. And it’s changing everything.”

Tori played the song on the harpsichord during the Dew Drop Inn Tour and re-arranged it when she began to tour with a band in 1998. She then played it on the piano, and the addition of drums, bass and electric guitar turned the baroque song in a distinctive and dark rock track. Over the years, Tori performed it (to the despair of fans) on fewer occasions, because she considered it as too emotionally draining. She performed it just once, as Pip, during the American Doll Posse World Tour and played it on all of her solo Australian shows in november 2009 during her Sinful Attraction Tour.