Beauty in the barbed wire

cinema bizarre:escape to the stars

This is Winter, performed live by Tori Amos. Listen, and read the lyrics. I am going somewhere important with this, I promise… you need to have her voice in your head before you read on.

Snow can wait
I forgot my mittens
Wipe my nose
Get my new boots on
I get a little warm in my heart
When I think of winter
I put my hand in my father’s glove
I run off
Where the drifts get deeper
Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown
I hear a voice
“Your must learn to stand up for yourself
Cause I can’t always be around”

He says
When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses are still in bed
I tell you that I’ll always want you near
You say that things change my dear

Boys get discovered as winter melts
Flowers competing for the sun
Years go by and I’m here still waiting
Withering where some snowman was
Mirror mirror where’s the crystal palace
But I only can see the myself
Skating around the truth who I am
But I know dad the ice is getting thin

When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses are still in bed
I tell you that I’ll always want you near
You say that things change my dear

Hair is grey
And the fires are burning
So many dreams
On the shelf
You say I wanted you to be proud of me
I always wanted that myself

He says
When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses have gone ahead
I tell you that I’ll always want you near
You say that things change
My dear

Beautiful song, no?

Now read this, preferably while playing that song again –

I was terrified. This is a normal human response to the very abnormal prospect of being dropped head first, neck first, and, yes, even balls first on jagged metal barbs. How exactly does a gentle, caring man (me) transform himself into a willing participant in such a barbaric spectacle? I needed to find some kind of inspiration in a hurry.

I looked out the dressing room door and saw the Japanese preliminary wrestlers taking down the ropes, beginning the process of putting the barbed wire around the ring. The wire they used was the real stuff: cold and uncaring, capable of tearing flesh in a hurry. I knew I had about 30 minutes before the wiring process was completed—a half-hour to undergo a drastic mental transformation. I took out my battered Sony Walkman and, after great deliberation, bypassed the obvious hard-rock selections. Finding solitude in a far corner of the frigid backstage area, I saw a cloud of my own breath as I pressed the play button. “Snow can wait, I forgot my mittens/ Wipe my nose, get my new boots on.”

“When you gonna make up your mind?” Tori Amos asked me inside that frigid dressing room. “When you gonna love you as much as I do?”

And then I realize I’m going to be all right. Head first, neck first, balls first—it really doesn’t matter. By the fourth listen, I know I’m going to tear that place apart.

That’s Mick Foley, the hardcore wrestler. Using that gentle sad wistful song to psych himself up for one of the most intense and destructive barbed-wire matches of his career. (And oh yes, real barbed wire, real tacks. Real blood and stitches and fear.)

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s wonderful.

Beautiful.

Strange juxtaposition, yes. Mick Foley and Tori became friends after he wrote about the experience, and the photos of the two of them together are visually amusing: the big bearded haystack with the gap grin next to the otherworldly willow-of-the-wisp Tori.

Mick Foley was intuitive enough to notice and feel the similarity between himself being bodyslammed into a collapsing table and that small wounded woman with her pianos and voice.

Both of them make art that comes from a vulnerable and precious and sweet part of themselves: they make art from their pain and invite us to connect with it. Tori made her scars beautiful and showed them to the world; Mick made the getting of those scars beautiful. The sweat and Lycra and piano are all externalities.

If he wasn’t vulnerable the chair wouldn’t hurt.

If she wasn’t vulnerable she couldn’t haunt us.

The moral of the story

Art is art.

Beautiful is beautiful.

Whatever form your art takes – whether it’s jewellery or coaching or being suplexed into a chain-link cage – own it and it will transform us all.

I donated $10 to RAINN after writing this article, with thanks to Mick and Tori.

Creative Commons License photo credit: visualpanic

11 thoughts on “Beauty in the barbed wire

  1. Beautiful post, takes me back to when we watched her live and cried a little bit. Truly an inspirational song, hope this post spreads a little Tori magic to people who may not know of her.
    Love, your little sister 🙂

  2. I’ve just started listening to Tori’s music after years of eyerolling and “what’s the big deal?”  But you just hit it on the head – she’s wounded, vulnerable, and beautiful because of it.  Baring her scars helps us find the beautiful in ourselves, too.  We may not think that other people will care about what we’ve been through, but if we share them, we can touch their lives and maybe even find some solace ourselves.

  3. This is a wonderful, and touching, post. Actually, I couldn’t even play the video, and I still thought that. I love that on a website that’s so bright and joyful and (colorfully) loud, you can insert a moment of subtle, quiet reflection. Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE the brightness. And I love the sweet and sensitive, too.

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