Ebony beauty
Pass this shade
The looking glass relects
Then a voice calls me back,
"this is just circumstance, it is not
personal", oh, no, it never is.
Then you ram your hand in your bag
For a little friendly substance

By the time you're 25
They will say, "you've gone and blown it".
By the time you're 35, I must confide,
You will have blown them all
Right on cue just act surprised
When they invite you to take
Your curtain call
You climbed China's wall
Your
Curtain call

I have done what I've done
And it has the ultimate consequence
Then a voice calls me back,
"this is not business, no,
it's more like spiritual"
Is that what it is?
Then you ram your hand in your bag
For a little protection

By the time you're 25
They will say, "you've gona and blown it."
By the time you're 35, I must confide,
You will have blown them all
Right on cue just act surprised
When they invite you to take
Your curtain call
You climbed China's wall
Your curtain call

Ebony beauty
Pass this shade
The looking glass reflects.


Lyrics submitted by stentorian

Curtain Call song meanings
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20 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI disagree...I think it's about her own life, and how everyone says that she should call it quits cuz she's old (which makes me angry whenever people say that about Tori). China refers to her early song. She smokes/drinks maybe, which would explain the "friendly little substance". 25, 35, hints toward 45 (her own age), so she's subtly hinting toward her growing age, and how the record companies suggest you not write music as you get old. Funny thing is, she wrote better music when 35 than 25, so age only makes her better, no matter how they discouraged her, and this album shows that she's still a fantastic artist. :D <3 tori amos <3
    dark ivoryon May 19, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationAs opposed to most of the other interpretations on this page, I'm of the opinion that Tori isn't so vain. I think it's a personal song, but one that most of us can relate to in the way that when we reach 25, or 35, we look back and judge ourselves on what we should be and what we've become according to what everyone else thinks of us. Everyone else is the "they" in the lyrics. The curtain call is the point where you've apparently screwed up your life bad enough that you should be taking your exit. China's wall is seemingly insurmountable, just like the personal situations we encounter in our lifetime.
    And as a side note, "blowing them all" is blowing all your chances, not blowing people. Also, ebony is a colour, not black people. I agree with parasol.
    unreservedreaderon May 17, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's clearly about someone who's fucking up their life with drugs etc and by behaving recklessly (so being very sinful, generally) and she's telling them it won't be long until it all ends...
    missmeon May 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about believing enough in what you do, that you'll simply keep doing it despite being told to take your 'curtain call'. It's very much about being defiant in your beliefs, whether it be in your art or life in general.
    abey85on May 21, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't think this is necessarily about her, although I'm sure parts of it reflect her, but I think it's a musician/singer whose popularity fades (possibly through drink or drugs). The line 'by the time you're 25, they will say you've gone and blown it' describes a failed album or substance abuse that leads to a slump in your popularity. I think the 'blown them all' bit at 35 means resorting to offering sexual favours to producers, company guys, whoever, just so she doesn't lose the contract or get dumped. The bit about the 'friendly substance' relates to someone who is using coke or some other drug to get them through the day.
    I can think of a few artists in their 20s who could fit this song. I think the reference to Tori having climbed China'a wall means that in the Y Kant Tori Read days she was considered a joke and not as someone who could be successful, but she proved them wrong. I think this song is like Tori observing how 'celebrity' can destroy some people and she is watching someone go through this just now.
    daneypopson May 23, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me personally it seems like a commentary on Hollywood and celebrity. That by 25 you're used up and burned out by the Hollywood machine. Then you start degrading yourself to eek out another ten years of career. Then the celebrity handlers plan for your farewell retirement despite your all your achievements, and whether or not YOU are ready to retire. And all along you thought you were in control when you never really were.

    It's happened to a lot of great musicians
    Inueon May 28, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCompletely agree that is a song about getting older. The China reference seems to refer to Tori, but then why is the subject of the song an "Ebony Beauty?" She does have Cherokee blood, but I wouldn't consider her "ebony."
    mj8877on May 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"ebony beauty, pass this shade"
    -- commentary on how black women are not seen as beautiful culturally. when you see beauty magazines for women you often see black women who're trying to lighten themselves, lightening their hair, using make-up for a lighter tone, etc. the stereotype of a 'beautiful woman' in America is a white blonde.

    However, and I like all of the previous comments here, but couldn't the song also be about career, and about job loss/layoffs? "you have climbed China's wall" -- double meaning referring to the themes from her old song -- but also saying hey, look at all you've achieved, you've done so much, and now you've gotten older and what do you have to show for it, what are you being recognized for, nothing, you've been fired, you're being shown the door, time to bow out, time for your curtain call. "this is just circumstance -- this is not personal" -- do you know how many bosses have told their employees that? Far too many. "right on cue just act surprised" -- you know it's coming, you know your career is about to end, but you have to act like you have no idea, you have to put a happy face on your miserable corporate life.

    I'm not exactly saying she intended this, but I think this is a beautiful and brilliant song, with double and triple meanings there for the taking in the complex yet accessible lyrics. "the looking glass reflects" -- I have to think about the relation of this song to "Ruby Through The Looking-Glass" -- but emphasizing that line "reflects" can mean both that you're looking at what your life has amounted to after being stepped on by 'The Man' and that it will come back to haunt him... almost a warning, the looking glass reflects... you get away with how you've treated people, but someone knows, and it will eventually reflect back onto you.

    Brilliant song.
    smacksandwichon June 11, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Ebony beauty" - isn't it about a piano? Ebony piano... That was my first thought. I think it's a very personal song. Tori often talks about how some people use to try to give her advice about her career. But she always believed in herself and she knew what she wanted.
    mrsXon June 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    I believe this song takes into account all the soul compromising things that she did to get to where she is. "ebony beauty pass the shade. the looking glass reflects" She's talking to herself, about her age, and looks, perhaps surgery.

    She's talking about the sex, the drugs, the things she has done to get where she is.

    The line "try to look surprised when they invite you to take your curtain call" is about how she fought hard and did things she may have regretted, to get where she is. As in, this shit just don't happen. You have to be ruthless even to yourself.

    I think this is one of the most interesting autobiographical songs of her current works.
    RyanEyeon June 16, 2009   Link

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