On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Tori Amos – Professional Widow (Armand’s Star Trunk Funkin’ Mix) (1996)
” Professional Widow” is a 1996 song written by singer-songwriter Tori Amos. It is a harpsichord-driven rock dirge and was included on her 1996 album Boys for Pele . The eponymous “professional widow” is widely rumoured to be Courtney Love, lead vocalist of the band Hole, whom Trent Reznor blames for the destruction of the friendship (whatever its extent) between himself and Amos.
We’re leaving the UK behind, dear reader, and returning to the US and to North Carolina. It is a second appearance on our list from Tori Amos. She previously appeared in 1994 with Cornflake Girl.
Two years on and Amos has released her third album, Boys for Pele, which divided the critics as the singer steered in a new direction and experimented both musically and lyrically. From there 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Professional Widow.
Professional Widow was released as the third single from Amos’ album, but was later re-released as the Star Trunk Funkin’ Mix by Armand van Helden. It is this version that gets the nod here. This remixed version dispenses with the lyrical depth of Amos’ original version and is largely driven by the music which is an electronic/dance backing. Lyrics retained see Amos singing to someone and beseeching them to bring it close to their lips and to make it big, which makes the song sound like it concerns love of some sort. The original track has been open to interpretations with one version saying it is an attack on Courtney Love, while another says it borrows from Edgar Allen Poe’s, The Sphinx.
Professional Widow is morphed into a very different track under the guidance of Armand van Helden. It comes across as quite repetitive but the music is catchy and you can see how this resonated with audiences in the late 1990s. This version of the track would top the charts in the UK. Although her latest album had divided the critics, Tori Amos would have been vindicated that material of hers, remixed or not, was still being embraced by a wide audience.
Favourite songs so far: