Thought I knew you well
Thought I had read the sky
Thought I had read a change
in your eyes...

Strange is the fourth song on Tori Amos's album Scarlet's Walk. It's a wound down, wondering song, appealing both to ear and mind. The artist uses her most velvety voice, but despite that, this is a song about waking up. Time has come for a change, and to her surprise, the change this time is in the main person and nobody else.

so strange
Woke up to a world
that I am
not a part
except when I can
play it's stranger

The song can easily be read as a continuation of Wednesday, the preceding song, after the woman has come to terms with this change in her: She can't accept the life she leads any more. She's been keeping herself a secret, hiding her own self while adapting to all her lover's wishes.

"just stay"
you said
"we'll build a nest"
so I left my
Tried on your
Tried on your

Looking back, she sees her submission to the life of the man in her life. She used to think he was right in everything, now finds that she may have been right, too. It's the kind of mistake every schoolgirl makes, but Scarlet is not a schoolgirl anymore. She is a mature woman. Realising it is time to sort out her childhood mistakes, she makes up her mind to leave.

So when the Bridges froze
and you
did not come home
I put our snowflake
under a microscope

Mainly this is a story about love that didn't quite work, but following the theme of the CD, it is also yet another reflection on America. "Scarlet has taken on the beliefs of her lovers and on another level those of her country. But she's begun to question them. We are taught that America stands for democracy. But that's not what she's seeing." (Tori Amos in Scarlet's Walk bio)

After all what was I
really looking for and I wonder
when will I learn
Maybe my wish
knew better than I did
and I wonder
when will I learn
when will I learn

While her decision slowly crystalizes, Scarlet keeps on travelling. The geography for this trip is a rather straight journey through Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, all snow country. Snow stands for... cool, rational thinking, the cooling and death of a relationship, and maybe a white sheet of new possibilities.

Scarlet also visits the sites of some of the last stands of the native American people, such as Little Big Horn. This foreshadows some of the later themes in the songs on Scarlet's Walk. From there, she journeys on through the Bad Lands.

guess I was in Deeper than
I thought I was
if I have enough love
for the both of us

What's strange about this song to me is the smoothness and the easy-to-understand lyrics, something one hasn't come to expect from Tori, but she has mellowed in recent years. The Wurlitzer is the smoothmaker above all, it sounds like a mix between bells and a piano. In addition there are scattered string arrangements, a pleasure on the ears as always. As usual, the supporting vocals are all done by Tori herself. This gives the chorused words a deeper resonance instead of just sounding nice.

so strange
now I'm finally in the
Party has begun
it's not like I can't feel you still
but strange
what I will leave behind
you call me one more
but now I must
be leaving

This song is followed by Carbon.

CST Approved

"It's not like I can't feel you still ..."

It is a single line in the song, but it echoes. An acidic double negative about loss. I do not know for sure what she is trying to say, but perhaps she means this:

It is not as if I can no longer feel your presence with me everyday.

If that is the intended sentiment then why not speak more clearly? As thus:

It is true. I can feel you still. Or, otherwise:

It is not as if you are forgotten.

One could, of course, draw the conclusion that the contradictory nature of the phrase is intentional and not just poor grammar. She is both missing him and not-both attached to him and wishing she was not. The bittersweet ambivalence of a lover's bruise. ~ (Or the memory of where a bruise had been).

Were that to be the case, it might sound more like this:

It's not as if I am free of you- I am not. It is not as if your hands are off my body. They are still there, long after they stopped touching me.

She feels him, still. She sings this not in a wistful way, but with a certain amount of dismay- almost self loathing. It is not something she is glad to remember. She wishes it were not so.

Although I wished I no longer felt you - know that I do. I feel you still. As if it were yesterday; as if it was last night. You are gone from my life and yet it is as if you never left at all.

Perplexed in absentia is not the name of the song, but may have been more apropos.

First sentence- single lyric from Strange-Tori Amos

Strange (?), a. [Compar. Stranger (?); superl. Strangest (?).] [OE. estrange, F. 'etrange, fr. L. extraneus that is without, external, foreign, fr. extra on the outside. See Extra, and cf. Estrange, Extraneous.]


Belonging to another country; foreign.

"To seek strange strands."


One of the strange queen's lords. Shak.

I do not contemn the knowledge of strange and divers tongues. Ascham.


Of or pertaining to others; not one's own; not pertaining to one's self; not domestic.

So she, impatient her own faults to see, Turns from herself, and in strange things delights. Sir J. Davies.


Not before known, heard, or seen; new.

Here is the hand and seal of the duke; you know the character, I doubt not; and the signet is not strange to you. Shak.


Not according to the common way; novel; odd; unusual; irregular; extraordinary; unnatural; queer.

"He is sick of a strange fever."


Sated at length, erelong I might perceive Strange alteration in me. Milton.


Reserved; distant in deportment.


She may be strange and shy at first, but will soon learn to love thee. Hawthorne.


Backward; slow.


Who, loving the effect, would not be strange In favoring the cause. Beau. & Fl.


Not familiar; unaccustomed; inexperienced.

In thy fortunes am unlearned and strange. Shak.

Strange is often used as an exclamation.

Strange! what extremes should thus preserve the snow High on the Alps, or in deep caves below. Waller.

Strange sail Naut., an unknown vessel. -- Strange woman Script., a harlot. Prov. v. 3. -- To make it strange. (a) To assume ignorance, suspicion, or alarm, concerning it. Shak. (b) To make it a matter of difficulty. [Obs.] Chaucer. -- To make strange, To make one's self strange. (a) To profess ignorance or astonishment. (b) To assume the character of a stranger. Gen. xlii. 7.

Syn. -- Foreign; new; outlandish; wonderful; astonishing; marvelous; unusual; odd; uncommon; irregular; queer; eccentric.


© Webster 1913.

Strange, adv.



Most strange, but yet most truly, will I speak. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

Strange, v. t.

To alienate; to estrange.



© Webster 1913.

Strange, v. i.


To be estranged or alienated.



To wonder; to be astonished.




© Webster 1913.

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