Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Maybe California by Tori Amos
Album: Abnormally Attracted to SinReleased: 2009
This song deals with a mother feeling like an inadequate parent and being driven to such a point where she wants to leave everything including her children. Amos observed to Billboard magazine that women often quietly shoulder the burden of keeping a family intact, especially in times of emotional and financial strain. She explained: "We define powerful men with being providers. We're back to that idea of power again, how to define what is power. When you have a relationship where both are not feeling powerful, because we've equated success with having a job and the breadwinner is laid off, the effect that that can have on the family is beyond description."
Amos explained in an interview with Amazon.com that the mother in this song, "is a woman who's tempted to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff." She added: "And it's really up to you to decide if another woman has talked her out of it. Or a spirit, or herself. Or if she does jump off that cliff."
Amos discussed this song with musicOMH.com
: "When you spend time with the music and delve into it, it is very much a record set in our new world. Our old world is gone - it's a world now where the meaning of success has to be redefined. A lot of people - men in particular - have lost their jobs so if you define your success by being a provider, and then you lose your job and are therefore unsuccessful, where are you left? Our stock definition of power - that was the bankers. What does that equal now? Integrity in stealing? In creating the problem and being rewarded for it? That's powerful?" Of course not - as she implies, that rulebook has been torn up. As a songwriter it is my job to tackle these concepts and put them into the feeling space, not just the head space, and look at the knock-on effect. Maybe California comes out of that kind of crisis, when the husband comes home after being fired... and then what happens in the bedroom? It's over."
A mother theme runs throughout Abnormally Attracted to Sin. Amos explained why to Amazon: "I thought, If you're going to talk about redefining sin, then mothers certainly have to be involved. Because a lot of mothers around the world have a similar difficulty integrating the idea of eroticism. Sometimes the idea becomes this top-shelf vulgar demeaning thing--not hot hot hot but just gross gross gross--and you're thinking, Well, O.K., so how has it become that it's either a beautiful spiritual thing that doesn't involve a whole lot of sweat, or if you're involved in a whole lot of sweat you end up with a whole lot of boot marks on your neck? With mother, the word inside is 'other.' And we sometimes spend all our time thinking about everybody else and nurturing them. And we don't spend that bit of time thinking, O.K., I also have to make sure the woman side of me is being looked after and kept alive. So through the record the mother presence is there, because if you're going to talk, like we're saying, about the sexual side, the mothers have to be a part of it. I'm a mother, and to me juggling and finding that balance is key."