Caught A Lite Sneeze

Album: Boys For Pele (1996)
Charted: 20 60

Songfacts®:

  • If you catch a light sneeze, it may be nothing, but it could be the first sign of a major illness, a metaphor that plays out in this song. In press materials for the Boys For Pele album, Amos said of this song: "It's really about a relationship. And she's kind of given herself away, so she's trying to get pieces back in any way she can. I mean, whoever works at that point."

    As you can tell, Tori is evasive regarding who specifically inspired the song, if anyone. The likely candidates are:

    Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who had a quick affair with Tori. When Tori mentions "My own Pretty Hate Machine," it's a reference to the first Nine Inch Nails album Pretty Hate Machine.

    Her former producer Eric Rosse, whom she dated and went through a painful breakup with. She uses the sneeze as a metaphor for the idea that he was her soul mate, and she begins to think that perhaps he wasn't after all: "Sometimes men like to think they're the flu, but sometimes they're just a h'achoo!" >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sara - Fareham, United Kingdom
  • This was the first song by a major artist to be made available on the internet before it was released on traditional formats. On December 11, 1995, Atlantic Records posted it in RealAudio format, a new technology that allowed users to stream songs in real time. Amos had very internet-savvy fans who were keen to discuss her music and keep up with her activities, so Atlantic used her as a test case. Few had internet in 1995, when there were very few websites and most people used the medium for chat and discussion. Being able to listen to a song right on the web showed how it could be useful and disruptive. The song was released as a single on January 1, 1996, three weeks ahead of the album.
  • The backing vocals in the chorus sing "Inanna," who is the Sumerian goddess of love. Amos explained to Spinner: "To me, it was so essential that I claim the Mother God from the place that it had been circumcised, which was the Christian church."
  • This was the lead single from Boys For Pele, Amos' third album. A theme throughout the album is how men fit into Tori's spiritual relationship. She did a lot of soul searching in Hawaii when she realized she was drawn to men with a great deal of creative and emotional strength, but she was "stealing their fire" instead of making her own. Pele is the Hawaiian volcano goddess.
  • Amos recorded much of the album in a old church in Ireland, making the religious references in this song even more poignant for her.
  • Amos had sold 2 million copies each of her first two albums, so she was popular enough to get booked on major talk and variety shows in America when she released this song. She made the rounds, performing it on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and on Saturday Night Live when she was the musical guest for the January 20, 1996 episode.
  • The video was directed by Mike Lipscombe, whose credits include "Here I Am" for Bryan Adams and "You'll Never Be Alone" for Anastacia. It's a very surreal video, with Amos floating in a kind of dreamland among swans, waterfalls, and hot-air balloons.

Comments: 4

  • Sara from Fareham, United KingdomI always thought this song was about Rosse. as for the trent thing, She refers to a love triangle when she talks about hey jupiter, so i wonder if 1995 (between rosse and mark) was an interesting year for her
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnTori is at her best when she is singing about betrayal. I bet Trent Reznor wasn't too happy about this song, ha ha!
  • The R from Hoboken, NjThe one line is only a nod to trent reznor. The song is about betrayal.
  • Icecreamassassin from Providence, Riwas it ever confirmed that Tori had an affair with Trent? She does in fact reference a NIN song, but she worked with Trent on Past the Mission so her reference here might just be a little wave to Trent given their past collaboration.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Bass Player Scott EdwardsSong Writing

Scott was Stevie Wonder's bass player before becoming a top session player. Hits he played on include "I Will Survive," "Being With You" and "Sara Smile."

Randy HouserSongwriter Interviews

The "How Country Feels" singer talks Skynyrd and songwriting.

Corey HartSongwriter Interviews

The Canadian superstar talks about his sudden rise to fame, and tells the stories behind his hits "Sunglasses At Night," "Boy In The Box" and "Never Surrender."

Lip-Synch RebelsSong Writing

What happens when Kurt Cobain, Iron Maiden and Johnny Lydon are told to lip-synch? Some hilarious "performances."

Desmond ChildSongwriter Interviews

One of the most successful songwriters in the business, Desmond co-wrote "Livin' La Vida Loca," "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" and "Livin' On A Prayer."

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New WordsSong Writing

Do you remember the first time you heard "email" in a song? How about "hater" or "Facebook"? Here are the songs where they first showed up.