Tori Amos: Me and a Gun
I will never forget the effect this song had on me when I bought the CD upon its 1992 release - it has the same effect on me now: the hair prickles on the back of my neck, goosebumps raise on my arms and I have a difficult time breathing...
Listening to Tori's a cappella rendering of a rape at gunpoint makes me hope I am never in that situation - the fear, shock and numbness is palpable in her whispered vocals, cracking at times, as she tries to envision the island of Barbados and soft biscuits in Carolina, anything to escape in her head what is happening to her body...
The song is based on a true story - Tori later went on to found RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), a non-profit organization operating America's only national hotline for survivors of rape and sexual assault. The RAINN hotline is toll-free and 100% confidential. RAINN has helped more than 276,300 survivors and connects with more than 830 crisis centers around the country.
Tori's Survivor Story
"I'll never talk about it at this level again but let me ask you. Why have I survived that kind of night, when other women didn't?
How am I alive to tell you this tale when he was ready to slice me up? In the song I say it was Me and a Gun but it wasn't a gun. It was a knife he had. And the idea was to take me to his friends and cut me up, and he kept telling me that, for hours. And if he hadn't needed more drugs I would have been just one more news report, where you see the parents grieving for their daughter. And I was singing hymns, as I say in the song, because he told me to. I sang to stay alive. Yet I survived that torture, which left me urinating all over myself and left me paralyzed for years. That's what that night was all about, mutilation, more than violation through sex.
I really do feel as though I was psychologically mutilated that night and that now I'm trying to put the pieces back together again. Through love, not hatred. And through my music. My strength has been to open again, to life, and my victory is the fact that, despite it all, I kept alive my vulnerability."