Song Analysis

Jackie’s Strenght

Thursday 8 September 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

(coming soon! In the meantime, read Tori’s quotes about the song.)

"Getting married was not something in my line of vision. But then I was in an airport, contemplating all these things in my head and I saw this little paperback book about Jackie. I picked it up and got on the plane and I turned to the picture section and it was her wedding day and she was in her bridal dress...And I wondered if I could have just one second of her elegance." (Boston Globe, April 24, 1998)

"There’s a girl that had a fantasy about a wedding...I think when she was really young and then just ditched it. I mean, that wasn’t gonna be her. And then she finds its her wedding day and she finds that she’s getting lost. She’s she doesn’t know if she’s ready to do that. And she looks back at her whole life, everything that ever happened to her to get her to that place. And she’d seen a picture of Jackie on her wedding day, and knows that she’s not handling it quite so well.

And that whole...the way that I really got inspired to write it is that I had a book of Jackie, and I turned to a picture of her in her wedding dress and then I turned the page and JFK was getting shot, its that famous picture of them in the car. and just one page, you know, your dealing with the birth of the bride and the death of her love, or the death of a union, and I was sort of dealing with...from the miscarriage to then being a bride myself, a bit backwards but anyway that’s the way it was, the cyclical constant turning of the seasons and the life wheel, and it’s so out of our hands sometimes, things that get put on our plate. There’s a death or there’s a birth or there’s a love that walks in your life and your like,’oh, but I don’t wanna fall in love right now, ’cause I’m already supposed to be in love with someone else.’

You know, it just doesn’t get wrapped up in this neat little package and I started to be so, a new appreciation of the life force came out of losing the baby. I really began to see how fragile life is, and you and I don’t know how long we’re going to be here. I mean, I like to think I’m 80 years old and still rocking in my boots and you come and interview me and we have a margarita and we do it, but we don’t know, and this record is really...It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be but the rhythm made me really want to wake up every morning." (Phoenix Club, Toronto, Canada April 28, 1998)

"The songs just grab me by the throat sometimes and say ’We’re coming in.’ I saw Jackie as a bride and I used to think I would never be a bride. I started to look at Jackie and how that woman held the country together after she watched her husband get cut down right in front of her." (Rolling Stone, June 1998)

"This wonderful boy had asked me to marry him, and of course I said yes, but I was shocked. You know, there was a part of me that had sworn that would never happen. You fantasize about what it would be like on that day, and then you fantasize about never having that day. Then you’re a vigilante and you will never have it. Then, all of a sudden, there it is, and you’re wondering, ’Are we going to make it? Half of all marriages end in divorce. Is that us?’ That was all going on as I got lost on my wedding day." (Alternative Press, July 1998)

"I knew I was getting marriend, and all those feelings were coming up, sort of flashbacks of your life. So when I saw this tiny book on jackie’s life at a book store in an airport I just picked it up, and when I saw the picture of her as a bride...and then turned the page and saw the picture of her when JFK got shot, it really spoke to me about how fast your life can change, at the turn of a page. I really didn’t know how I was going to react on my wedding day when I wrote this song. A part of me could see myself getting lost, going to a 7-11 and having a slurpy all day...This song is about a girl getting lost on her wedding day. I happened to show up at the church for mine in real life. but a 7-11 did cross my mind." (Yahoo Online Chat, August 8, 1998)

"A part of me could see myself in this wedding dress sitting at 7-Eleven on the curb, having a Slurpee and missing the whole thing. Not because I wanted to, but just because I’m still frozen in a piece of film somewhere when I was 18 and that was my outlook on life. So Jackie’s Strength was written about the girl that went to the 7-Eleven; I went and got married...It’s a pretty sacred day, and yet it can go so horribly wrong. Mine went right, but I think because I wrote the song. I let my alter ego go exist and live and be (in the song), so she didn’t have to do it in front of everybody else. That’s where songs come in handy. You don’t pretend that this side doesn’t exist, so it doesn’t have to become so vulgar, in 3-D." (Times Picayune, October 9, 1998)

"My mother is (a source of inspiration) and my mother loved Jackie. It’s just one of those things. I think that they were born in the same year or something so she really identified with her and the little hat and everything. My mother had one of those. Going to church as a minister’s wife, she would have her Jackie O look and I thought that was really cool. I had a cool mom and when I was getting married, I remember my mother saying to me that when she heard that the president had been shot she had to put me down because her heart stopped and she thought about, ’Oh my god, who’s gonna make Jackie a cup of tea today?’. And I think she wanted to be there, so many women did want to be there for Jackie." (FNX AIDS Benefit, December 3, 1999)

“Jackie’s Strength is really... I was asked to get married, right? And um I was quite nervous because I never thought I’d get married before. It just wasn’t something that I was gonna do. Even though I believe in monogamy, just having the church and state condone my union wasn’t important to me. And in fact, I really didn’t want that. So, when he asked me, it brought up, obviously, a lot of things. And I started going back in my little movie in my head, different moments of my life.

And I remember my mother telling me that the day Kennedy died, John F. Kennedy, that she put me down, she had to lay me down because her heart started to slow down and she couldn’t breathe. And um, all she thought of was Jackie and the strength that it would take Jackie to lead the nation.. which she did. And I really knew that I was gonna need some kind of strength because I’m made up of like two personalities. There’s one side of me that could very easily have ended up at the 7-Eleven sitting outside drinking a Slurpee in my wedding dress and just missing the whole thing. And then there’s the other one that did make it to the church. So, this song is about the one that drank the Slurpee. She’s still out there somewhere.” (VH1 Storytellers, October 24, 1998)