Song Analysis

Flying Dutchman

Sunday 7 August 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

Tori wrote this song for Rantz Hoseley, one of her best friends who had been living at her place in Los Angeles for a few months while she was writing Little Earthquakes.

(Full article coming soon! In the meantime, read quotes about the song)

Rantz Hoseley: "Back in ’88-89, round there, things were not going very well for either Tori or me. We had been friends for a few years at the time, and were both —how do I say this — stifled, I guess. She had just gone through the hell of Y Kant Tori Read, and I was living back in Washington State with my mom after having some very scary near-fatal experiences in Los Angeles. Tori and I spent a lot of time on the phone, talking about what we ’wanted to do with our lives’ as it were.

Anyway, Tori got back on her feet a little faster than I did, and started working on ’a different type of album’ for Atlantic. So, she called me up during one of her bouts of writing, and asked me ’Rantz, if you had to describe yourself as something, what would it be?’ Now, this, in particular was a BAD time. I can’t remember what was going on, but I was very depressed. I won’t say suicidal, but I was about as far down as you can get. So, I told her; ’I’m the Flying Dutchman.’

... Tori told me she wasn’t familiar with the story so I went to the cupboard (while still on the phone) and found one of those Skipper’s ’Legends of the Sea’ glasses they had as give-aways. This one told me the Cliff’s notes version of the story. How Captain Van Eyck, faced with a brital storm, implored god to save his men. There was no answer, and Van Eyck called on god twice with the same result. Finally, fearing for the safety of his men, he called on the devil, and made a deal that if he and his men traveled to safety, the devil could have his soul... No sooner had the storm dissipated, tha an angel came down from heaven, informing Van Eyck that he had betrayed god. ... ’For your crime against the lord, you are cursed to sail the sea forever, to never find safe harbor, or the comfort of the shore or home.’ I thought that was pretty apt, considering what I was feeling at the time.

(Tori)... was quite for a while then asked ’Is that really how you feel?’ and I told her yes. ... Well about a week later Tori calls and asks if I’ve got one minute or two, I tell her yes, and she starts playing this song over the phone, just her and the piano. It was amazing and very touching, and I would say it’s by far one of the nicest things anyone’s ever done for me." (Little Blue World vol. 4 n°1 spring 2004 — originally posted to on February 13, 1996)