Professional Widow (Its Got To Be Big)

Album: Boys for Pele (1996)
Charted: 1

Songfacts®:

  • A professional widow would be a woman who makes a living killing her husbands. In this song, her method is convincing the poor guy to commit suicide, the same tactic used by Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth.

    Tori Amos is claiming her power over the patriarchy, rejecting the role of girlfriend or groupie and going straight to the throne.
  • The original version of this song is a punky harpsichord-driven track from Amos' Boys For Pele album. It was released as a double-sided single along with "Hey Jupiter," reaching #20 in the UK in 1996. The following year it was remixed by American house producer Armand Van Helden so successfully that it went all the way to the top of the UK charts. Van Helden's bassline in this remix may have started the speed garage movement.
  • Armand Van Helden's remixed version uses only snippets of Tori Amos' original record. However he did not receive any remuneration for this mix as he presented it uncommissioned. Tori Amos is quoted in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh as saying: "I was called by a friend who was the head of dance at Atlantic America and he had the feeling that Armand van Helden could do something with the album. Boys For Pele was a very extreme record and very acoustic and Armand said he understood the character of the girl in 'Professional Widow.' He did a great job on it but it's not really a song anymore - it is a vibe with a groove."

    In the same book, Armand van Helden tells a slightly different story: "A man called Johnny D who worked as A&R and street promotions manager at Atlantic had dinner with Tori Amos and he suggested that I remix 'Professional Widow.' Tori made only one suggestion and that was to make it different. I was free to experiment and having just returned from Ibiza, I was feeling extra creative."
  • Amos gets especially bawdy in this song, closing with the line, "give me peace, love and a hard c--k." She explained that you can't have one without the other.

Comments: 3

  • Melinda from AustraliaThank god Amand Van Heldon got hold of this song. Otherwise I would have never heard. By the time this reworked version came out. No one was really interested in Tori Amos anymore. This song changed that. It's just so good. On 1st listen I figured the lyrics were quite obscene. But u know it's so good. Who cares. Tori Amos has since stated the lyrics in the song is about making it big politically. Where that fits with the line 'honey bring it close to my lips yeah' doesn't really make sense in that context. But overall ...how we danced to this in the late 1990's golden age of Techno. non stop.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnThis song is pretty suggestive, especially at the end. Took me a while to like this song - really cool now.
  • Marie-louise Fitrion from Toronto, CanadaIt has been suggested that this song is about Courtney Love and her "relationship" with Kirt Cobain. The lines " Don't blow those brains yet, We gotta be big boy, We gotta be big" ring very close to the allegations that Courtney is only got famous because of Kirt.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Strange MagneticsSong Writing

How Bing Crosby, Les Paul, a US Army Signal Corps Officer, and the Nazis helped shape rock and Roll.

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)Songwriter Interviews

Chad tells tales from his time as drummer for Nirvana, and talks about his group Before Cars.

80s Video Director Jay DubinSong Writing

Billy Joel and Hall & Oates hated making videos, so they chose a director with similar contempt for the medium. That was Jay Dubin, and he has a lot to say on the subject.

Chris Fehn of SlipknotSongwriter Interviews

A drummer for one of the most successful metal bands of the last decade, Chris talks about what it's like writing and performing with Slipknot. Metal-neck is a factor.

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk: Rock vs. TelevangelistsSong Writing

When televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart took on rockers like Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica, the rockers retaliated. Bono could even be seen mocking the preachers.

Name the Character in the SongMusic Quiz

With a few clues (Works at a diner, dreams of running away), can you name the character in the song?