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St. Teresa


Joan Osborne

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song is about a woman who is down on her luck and trying to support herself and her baby by making money as a prostitute. The song explores how a woman who is overlooked and discarded is still very human and complex.
Osborne wrote this with Eric Bazilian, Rob Hyman and Rick Chertoff - the team who produced and played on Cyndi Lauper's first album. Says Bazilian, "On 'St. Teresa,' Joan was responsible for the lion's share of the lyrics, but we all worked through them very meticulously to make sure they made sense. 'St. Teresa' was one that just poured out of her, that was great. 'Right Hand Man' was a similar thing."
Bazilian: "St. Teresa started its life as Allman Brothers style Blues, based around a sort of organ riff. It lived that way for a while. I think Joan came in with the verse melody and lyrics written around that type of song, and then at some point the mandolin riff came, but I was still playing it over a kind of Jazz/Waltz/Blues. We tried to cut the song that way and we could never really catch a groove on it, and then one day I said, 'Let me play this mandolin to a click track.' I turned on my sampler with a percussion bank in it and was looking for just a shaker or something I could use for the click. My finger ran into the top key, which happens to be that sample that starts the record. I played the mandolin to that. A very unique rhythmic structure was born."
This was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal, but lost to Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know." Morissette also beat out Osborne for Album Of The Year.
This was Osborne's second single. It followed up her hit "One Of Us," which was written by Bazilian. (Thanks to Eric Bazilian for speaking with us about this song. For more, check out
Joan Osborne
More Joan Osborne songs
More songs about prostitutes

Comments (3):

Yeah, it's totally about a drug addicted prostitute. "When I make my money, got to get my dime." and "higher than the moon" and "...every stone a story like a rosary." It's definitely about drugs.
Interesting that there's no mention of the controversy that surrounded the song in 1996. If I remember correctly, the Catholic church was up in arms over the religious imagery and the name St. Teresa being used. Also, I did a little reading up on St. Teresa and she was known for her writings on the mystical experiences she had during prayer which actually sound a lot like someone high on drugs.
- Mindy, Eugene, OR
Blackmore's Night does A fabulous rockin' rendition of this. I Love it. WAY awesome! I think they really do justice to the song.
- Tracy, Boston, MA
I've always thought this song was also about drug addiction. You know, stone, rocks, crack. A drug-addicted prostitute makes just as much sense to me.
- Amadna, Richmond, VA
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