Song Analysis

Police Me

Sunday 14 August 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

“Police Me” addresses the subject of surveillance anyone is subjugated to in our modern society via technology, whether it’s the Internet, the phone, the cameras in the streets... Tori explained in an interview for American Songwriter in May 2009 that the song was about “[t]he whole idea of remote viewing and how people analyze each other through information and email.” “In the West, we have very little freedom. They can go through anything. They can request and demand any information, as if we’re criminals. Under the guise of righteousness, aspects of the governments in the West, because I travel and play in different places, they can get into all kinds of stuff. All of that control connected with the idea of remote viewing.”

Here, Tori seemed to refer to the fact that as an American living in England, she has to regularly justify her situation and sometimes answer some very personal questions [I have a friend who left France to live in her husband’s country and she confirmed she has to fill all kinds of papers and answer very silly or private questions], something she already hinted in an interview for Out Magazine at the same period, where she explained that “Welcome to England” had been in part inspired by some issues she met with the British bureaucracy.

That surveillance subject is illustrated in the song by lines like “Perhaps the answer to the question/ Lies in the question/ Perhaps you should read my thoughts/Line them up like soldiers” or “Can they monitor how you think?/ They’ve got their own remote viewing.” Plus, Tori plays with the double meaning of the words “cell” and “Blackberry” to develop a whole cell phone metaphor that can be found in a lesser way in “Fast Horse,” where she refers to an Apple device in an oblique way.

In the visualette for the song, we can see the doll Pip teasing control cameras and this is no surprise since in her blog, she criticized a secret surveillance program that had been put up by the American government and the CIA to spy on the people as a mean to ‘fight terrorism.’ After having talked to one of her informers, she wrote in her May 9, 2007 post: “swallow these words. My head is exploding but I have to swallow these words. Words that are loaded artillery.” These words echo those of the song when Tori sings “loaded, full of winter you are.”

In this sense, it is quite funny to note how the character of Pip inspired Tori on this album for “Strong Black Vine” and “Police Me.” These tracks have the same rock and angry quality than the songs sung by the doll on American Doll Posse. Except this time, Tori didn’t put on a black wig to sing the songs during the tour.

“Like you said — we are programmed for so long that sexy is out there somewhere [motions to the room] and sacred is in here somewhere [motions to chest] and you’re never going to have sexy and sacred in a relationship together,” she said to Out Magazine in May 2009. “And I think it does depend on who you’re with, but I think you really have to work hard to break those programs because they’re so entrenched. And ‘Police Me’ is very much about being encoded. As you know with the archetypes from the last record I was really trying to find sides to myself that I hadn’t allowed myself. I don’t need to put on Pip’s garb to walk into that. That was a huge place to get to.”

information sources

Out, 5 mai 2009.
Attitude, May 8, 2009.
American Songwriter, 8 mai 2009)