Album: Left Of The Middle (1997)
Charted: 2 42
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  • In 1991, the songwriters Anne Preven and Scott Cutler wrote this song with Phil Thornalley, a producer who had worked on albums by The Cure, XTC, and Edwyn Collins. The song was first recorded by the Danish singer Lis Sørensen as "Braendt," with Danish lyrics written by Elisabeth Nielsen, appearing on Sørensen's 1993 album Under Stjernerne Et Sted.

    Preven and Cutler formed a band called Ednaswap, and released the first English version of "Torn" on their 1995 debut album. Ednaswap got little attention, but the song was released in Denmark again in 1996, this time by the Norwegian singer Trine Rein and with the English lyrics.

    "Torn" found its way to Natalie Imbruglia when the song's co-writer Phil Thornalley ended up working on her first album. Imbruglia is an Australian actress who was on the Aussie soap opera Neighbours from 1992-1994 (the same one Kylie Minogue starred in). Thornalley had her record the song, and it was released as her first single in 1997, launching her singing career. Imbruglia's debut album Left Of The Middle was released in 1998 with "Torn" as the first track. Thornalley co-wrote five other songs on the LP, and became one of the most popular producers in pop, with a client list including Ronan Keating, Bryan Adams, and Mel C. He and Preven teamed up again to write the #1 UK hit "Mama Do" for Pixie Lott.
  • This song is about a woman who thought she found the perfect man, only to find out he was Mr. Wrong all along. To say she is taking it hard is an understatement: she's so upset that she ends up cold, shamed, lying naked on the floor.

    Anne Preven didn't write the lyric about anyone in particular - she was dating her co-writer Scott Cutler at the time. All that pathos is something she encountered when, as a teenager, she worked in a New York mental hospital that treated suicidal adolescents (her father was a psychiatrist there and insisted she work there). One girl under her care ran away and made a suicide attempt - something she never forgot.
  • This song was a hit in the UK long before it made any impact in America. Released as a UK single on October 27, 1997, it went straight to #2, where it stayed for three weeks (held off by "Barbie Girl" by Aqua). It didn't top the US Airplay chart until May 16, 1998.
  • This song has a very strange history on the Billboard charts because it was popular at a time when the Hot 100 methodology changed. The song was a huge hit in America throughout the summer of 1998, spending 11 weeks on top of Airplay/Radio Songs chart. The song was released only as a radio promo single, however, as Imbruglia's label withheld commercial availability in the hope that consumers would instead purchase her album. Songs that were not available for purchase as singles were ineligible for the Hot 100 until December 5, 1998, when Billboard revised the policy, allowing songs not available at retail to appear on the chart with airplay factored into the ranking. "Torn" was at the end of its run at this point, but still managed to make the chart at #42 that week before dropping off two weeks later.

    This #42 chart position is very deceptive, since the song was far more popular. Most other hits of this era that were not issued as singles and thus ineligible for the Hot 100 have not placing on the chart at all - No Doubt's "Don't Speak" and The Wallflowers' "One Headlight" are examples.
  • Before it exploded on the UK charts, Imbruglia's version was shopped around to record labels in the US, and was turned down by every one of them. That is, until the song became a hit and everyone wanted a piece of the pie. Phil Thornalley recalled in a Songfacts interview: "Everybody in the US said, 'No thanks.' And then, of course, it became a massive hit here in the UK, and the very same A&R man who had said 'I don't want it' in New York was now trying to get his name put on the album to say that he was the executive responsible for it. And that's the music business. That's quite cynical but that's true. That's how it works."
  • So, what was so special about Imbruglia's rendition anyway? Thornalley told us: "Obviously, she was a pop star and had a background as an actor so she looked the part. She knew how to make a great video and the quality to her voice seemed to suit the song because the song is quite anxious, and yet her voice is quite sweet. So, I think that made it an attractive union of emotions."
  • Anne Preven had a specific songwriter in mind when she composed the lyric. "I was really into Joni Mitchell at the time and I really wanted to try and write something as descriptive and that had as much of a story as she seemed to be able to do," she told "I was really trying to be Joni Mitchell basically."
  • The video was directed by Alison Maclean, a Canadian filmmaker who also did Imbruglia's clips for "Big Mistake" and "Wishing I Was There." Maclean was mostly known for her short films Kitchen Sink and Crush, and her time working on films informed her approach to the "Torn" video, which has a very casual feel, intercutting off-action scenes (crew members giving direction, Imbruglia stretching and getting ready) throughout. The result is part acting, part outtake, which created a very intimate feel as it was all shot on the same set.

    In many cases, the best footage on any shoot comes when the actors think the cameras aren't rolling, since they're relaxed and genuine. Maclean got this footage by keeping the camera going during some of these down times. The acting parts were based on a scene from the film Last Tango in Paris.
  • Imbruglia made #25 on the US Airplay chart in September 1998 with "Wishing I Was There," and made #64 on the Hot 100 with "Wrong Impression" in 2002. She was far more successful in the UK and in her native Australia, where she landed a number of hits, including the "Torn" follow-up "Big Mistake," which also made #2 in the UK and went to #6 in Australia.
  • This was the first song One Direction sang as a group when they formed on The X Factor (UK) in 2010.

Comments: 14

  • Andrew from Australiaandrew from the uk, you are confused about your memory of events. do not be upset, because distortion sometimes occurs when you try to reconstruct memories of events that occurred during times of stress. sometimes there is a degree of synchronicity generated by common experiences. phrases of common use group together and it seems that there is an instance of plagiarism. as it happens i know the origin of the song "torn" from first hand knowledge, and while you are correct that anne preven was not the origin of the song. it was in fact created by a top-liner known as chef. chef is an auteur of the music industry who has been prevalent since the 70s - he does ghost-writing. warner chappell executives place his work with various artists. ednaswap received chef's top-line through channels, and took credit for the work.
  • Andrew from Uk"So; the person who wrote Torn was Edna, a mental health hospice nurse and it was written at Los Angeles Hospice around about the mid 1980's. Anne Preven s father was in charge of professional ethics for the hospice and demanded that Edna either give up singing on stage or lose her job with the hospice. That is who wrote the song and I was there when she wrote it"
  • Andrew from UkTorn was written by a mental Health nurse at Los Angeles Hospice in the 1980's; not Anne Preven.

    Ednaswap was a rock band from Los Angeles, United States, that existed between 1993 and 1998. Over a span of five years, the band released four major label records on East West, Elektra Records and Island Records. However there was an older line up of the Ednaswap band back in 1980's. This is when the song Torn was written.

    "As I remember it the lead singer with Ednaswap, had a job at a local American hospice as a nurse, before she started to sing with the other members of the band.....

    My first wife Tina Braybrook (Aka Tina Kerti) was receiving treatment at the same hospital in between acting parts in London and American film sets. She got to chatting to my first wife and in some way this inspired her to start to sing.

    The Already Torn song revolves around a conversation, about life, that the Ednaswap lead singer had with Tina when Tina was under going mental health therapy at the hospice that she was working in... It is good that the inspiration for the song came!

    However, as with many people suffering mental health issues, my first wife wasn't making complete sense and wasn't telling the whole truth in her conversation all of those years back at the hospice.

    The nurse who was the first singer in Ednaswap in the 1980's did not carry on with the band and was later replaced. The band stopped when the nurse left; then reformed later with a new lead singer ready for the 1990's.

    So the original writer of "Torn" disappeared back into working life in Los Angeles whereas the Ednaswap band went on to later produce albums with the song on. Great song though!...

    who cares what inspired Ednaswap to write it when they did so at the end of the day... (" Illusion never changed into something real" should give you an indication of the kind of chat that my wife Tina had with her at the hospital before the song was put to music all of those many many years ago.....time flies and Tina has a different first name and doesn't do acting much anymore...all in the past).

    The band Ednaswap had already existed , with a different lead singer, before the new line up that started to release albums in 1993.

    A number of people have assumed, over the years, that Anne Preven was something to do with
    the writing of this song as second lead singer of Ednaswap. In fact she played on this fact at a music industry interview in London. She didn't write it.

    I was there when the first lead singer of the band wrote it because I visited my wife in Los Angeles and met the nurse who wrote it at the hospice.

    The problem was that the staff nurse who wrote "Torn", "which is just the things that my wife said set to music all those years back in Los Angeles Hospice in the1980's", was an employee of the hospice company that Anne Preven's father controlled. Accordingly Anne wanted her to stop writing music and wanted her to disappear back in to the working masses! End of!

    I never especially liked Anne and I never will all that much. If ever I have to sit in a restaurant, or bar, with Anne Preven and collegaues, she always does the same thing! She calls me by her nickname for me which was always Andy Pandy back then when we were sitting around in Los Angeles. "Andy Pandy" is a British children's television series that premiered on BBC TV in summer 1950...;)

    What we can say is that the song "Torn" is an Ednaswap song but that is was written in the 1980's before Anne Preven was anything to do with the song.

    Also that Ednaswap have never had copyright rights to the song because the original nurse/band member who penned the words left and ceased to be in the music industry.

    Natalie Imbruglia, from Australia, later did a cover version of this song but the original was written in a hospice, in Los Angeles, where my first wife was receiving mental health therapy.

    It was the nurse who treated my wife who went on to write and sing "Torn" as the band Ednaswap. It is just my wife's words during a conversation at the hospice set to music.

    "I was there in Los Angeles, USA, visiting my wife when the song was written!"

    While in America I also went to see their stage performances so I saw them all both on stage and off stage as well. No big deal!

    Andy Siddle
  • Jason Thompson from CanadaPutting some clothes on and standing up is a great start, she'll feel better almost immediately.
  • Benoit from Paris, FrancePlease anyone has opinion or explanations about her strange pronunciation of the word "perfect" (I can hear "prrrefect" I wrong ?) in this song ? Is it a common Australian way to do so ? (sorry, English is not my native language...)
  • Anthony from Fareham, United KingdomI still love that song - and stuff the Welshman's view ;) - some folk seem to delight in the downfall of others
  • Rod from Gainesville, FlWell she is a hauntingly beautiful girl and she does a good job on this song but her follow-ups like ´Wishing you were here¨sucked like an industrial vacuum. i guess she needs to carefully choose material in future.
  • Joel from Any Town, KsI heard this song a lot during road trips.
  • Tricia from Rockville Centre, NyI absolutely could relate to this song when all is going wrong in your life. You look for answers with a ray of hope ..and of course you have to deal with the let down of disappointment "illusion never changed into something real" You keep on wishing for that guy to come thru ..and he winds up not calling or is caught with someone else...or you look for that situation at work to turn around...and it stays the same...just some examples...Its an awesome song..but the words really make you think.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaYeah, give the girl a break. It's a great recording, in any case.
  • Max Robertson from Morrison, IlThe horns are similar to those of "She's a Star," but the 1995 Ednaswap and 1996 Trine Rein versions had a guitar solo almost exactly like those of Imbruglia's version.
  • Natalie from Fulshear, Txi dont care who wrote it...its still a good song
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesEdnaswap's version of "Torn" is the definitive version, even if Natalie Imbruglia's version is the more famous. Her attempts to launch herself as the depressed rock chick soon saw her fall out with the critics, and after a million-selling debut album in "Left Of The Middle", her next two albums flopped. Unkind critics have labelled her a poor man's Alanis Morrissette, but she didn't do herself any favours by embarassing herself on an episode of Chris Evans' TV show "TFI Friday" in 1998. Chris Evans said to her "Great lyrics, you're one hell of a songwriter", Natalie replied "Thank you Chris, my pleasure", at which point someone in the audience shouted out "Hang on - you didn't wite it, it's a cover version!". Natalie was also accused of stealing the horns at the end of the song from Indie band James' hit "She's A Star", which hit the chart less than six months before she covered "Torn"
  • Suzi from Charleston , ScNatalie Imbruglia is married to the lead singer of Silverchair.
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