Go go go go now
Out of the nest it's time
Go go go now
Circus girl without a safety net
Here here here now don't cry
You raised your hand for the assignment
Tuck those ribbons under your helmet
Be a good soldier
First my left foot then my right behind the other
Pantyhose running in the cold

Mother the car is here
Somebody leave the light on
Green limousine for the redhead dancing dancing girl
And when I dance for him
Somebody leave the light on
Just in just in case I like the dancing I can remember where I come from

I walked into your dream
And now I've forgotten how to dream my own dream
You are the clever one aren't you
Brides in veils for you
We told you all of our secrets
All but one
And don't you even try
The phone has been disconnected
Dripping with blood and with time and with your advice
Poison me against the moon

Mother the car is here
Somebody leave the light on
Black chariot for the redhead dancing dancing girl
He's gonna change my name
Maybe you'll leave the light on
Just in just in case I like the dancing I can remember where I come from

I escape into your escape into our very favorite fearscape
It's across the sky and across my heart and I cross my legs oh my God
First my left foot then my right behind the other
Breadcrumbs lost under the snow

Oo who mother
Oo mother the car is here
Maybe maybe you'll leave the light on for the for the for the dancing girl
He's gonna change my name
Maybe you'll leave the light
Just in case I like the dancing I can remember where I come come from

Mother mother mother


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

Mother Lyrics as written by Tori Ellen Amos

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Mother song meanings
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38 Comments

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  • +4
    General Comment

    I think this song is about control. Going from a controlling mother to a controlling boyfriend/husband.

    In the first verse, her mother has prepared her for marriage. She has been trained for this, and now her mother is sending her off to "war" (marriage). Tucking the ribbons under the helment seems to smybolize the transition from being a child to becoming an adult. The "You raised your hand for the assignment," sounds bitter, as though the mother both wants her to go off to be a wife and, at the same time, resents her for leaving.

    The second verse about dancing for him, I interpret as meaning that now she will probably submit herelf to a man's control as she starts to date. She will "dance" for him. She doesn't want to do this, so she wants the light left on to remember who she really is as an individual. The green limosine may represent money or financial stability. Perhaps an escape from her mother.

    I walked into your dream (Her mother's and/or her boyfriend's/husband's) And now I've forgotten how to dream my own dream (She's lost her sense of self) You are the CLEVER one aren't you (Anger over her mother's control) Brides in veils for you (Her mother raised her to be a wife) We told you all of our secrets All but one And don't you even try (She submitted completely to her mother and has always told her everything - almost. The last secret is what makes her independent. Perhaps her love for this man?) The phone has been disconnected (She is breaking free of her mother.) Dripping with blood and with time and with your advice Poison me against the MOON (Her mother has been so overbearing, she has poisoned (limited, destroyed) her daughter's dreams and aspirations.)

    In the next verse, the black chariot (marriage) is more ominous than the green limosine (dating/escape?), and the reference to changing her name does seem to imply marriage. The fact that she says, "He's going to change my name," sounds like he is making the decision. Again, he is controlling. She's afraid she will lose herself to him in marriage, so she asks that the light be kept on.

    I escape into your escape into our very favorite fearscape (She escapes from her mother to her husband, which is even worse.) It's across the sky and across my heart and I cross my legs oh my god (She has dreams and desires of her own, but obeys - crossing legs, being prim and proper - instead. She is horrified by this.) First my left foot then my right behind the other Breadcrumbs lost under the snow (She's lost herself. The breadcrumbs were the trail back to who she really is. She's submitted to his control.)

    There seems to be a theme of safety versus risk. She moves from one safe (but unhappy) place to another. During the transition, though, there is risk. (Circus girl without a safety net. Pantyhose running in the cold - she's left alone.) This seems, however, to be when she sees herself most clearly and tries to hold on to that insight, symbolized by leaving the light on.

    isisalonon August 12, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Most importantly, I think that this song's aim is similar to a poem by Georgia Douglas Johnson, "The Heart of a Woman":

    THE HEART of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
    As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on, Afar o’er life’s turrets and vales does it roam In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.

    The heart of a woman falls back with the night, 5 And enters some alien cage in its plight,
    And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.

    This song to me has always been about a mother and daughter confiding in one another. The daughter is preparing to face the world, and the mother is telling her about the sorrow and anger there is in being a woman. This song is about women facing a misogynistic world. The daughter says"leave the light on" remind me of who I am, of my personal sovereignty as I enter the world, that I was someone. My name is going to be changed, I will lose so much of who I am, but remind me. The mother is telling her daughter to be strong, to remember that woman once meant something.

    I think that later in the song, the mother addresses society as a whole: "we have told you all of our secrets." I think of this song as representing a struggle between femininity and masculinity, like they are two countries in a war, and femininity has been conquered. Women have been poisoned against the moon (often standing in opposition to the sun as a symbol of femininity) and forced to see their own womanhood as being shameful, weak, and inferior. Men have covered women's faces with veils, changed their names, and poisoned them against their own femininity. Women have been forced to abandon their dreams and embrace those of male society. I see all of this as being told by a mother who has experienced it, and perhaps gained back a bit of herself, to her daughter who is just embarking on this journey, this struggle between masculinity and femininity.

    I think this song is also about female "double-consciousness." The way women think of themselves one way (ex. intelligent, strong, resilient, independent) and (masculine) society thinks of them another way (ignorant, naive, weak, dependent). And as women, we have to reconcile ourselves with those two points of view and see our femininity either as a flaw, or as a strength. WE have our own dreams, our own minds, but will we allow our secrets to be stolen, our names changed, our faces veiled? Will femininity forever be viewed as the weaker side of the equation of humanity, or could it ever be acknowledged as equally unique and beautiful and strong as masculinity?

    nurisimon May 16, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    It sounds like she's being forced to leave home by a controlling mother -- not exactly an arranged marriage, but any one of a number of situations parents force their children into, like a particular school, or a relationship with the "right kind" of person. And, you know, parents force their kids into doing things that are maybe in line with their talents, but that they might not be ready for yet, or that they might know how to do but not be able to fully understand why they should do it.

    badverbon August 23, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    "You are all right in a way. Marriage is a form of prostitution,"

    Holy unshaven armpits! Marriage is prostitution?

    Maloneyon August 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I think it's telling a story about a girl leaving home to pursue her dreams (of beaing a dancer), but missing her family. It's such a beautiful song; makes me teary-eyed everytime I listen to it.

    Chloe le Fayon July 08, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This song is about a girl getting married. "He's gonna change my name, somebody leave the light on, just in, just in case i like the dancing, i can remember where i come from" To me, dancing is symbolic of being married, and she wants to make sure that if she likes the dance of being married, that they leave the door open so she can come back to visit.

    ShamJCon August 03, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I always thought that it was a song about prostitution, what with the whole 'assignment' thing, the changing names and the fact that she's crying. I assumed that the 'clever one' is their pimp. Could be wrong, but it's what it always meant to me.

    amaltheaon June 30, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I think it's about a girl who's getting married (he's gonna change my name), and the part about the dancing, I think, is about her time as a free woman. She still wants to be able to do things on her own. (mother, the car is here) is how it's time for her to leave home. "Here here here now don't cry You raised your hand for the assignment" is about how the girl agreed to get married and there's no going about. But that's just my opinion.

    Firenze131on September 25, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I agree that this song is about prostitution. The whole changing her name thing and being in someone else's dream is the girl playing the part the man wants. The phrase, "the car is here," references how prostitutes are often picked up in cars. A dancing girl is not a prostitute, but still sells her body for money, only it's by stripping, not sex. I think the part about being a soldier and not crying is about being strong despite the horror of having to sell one's self for money, which I'd guess feels as bad or even worse than being raped because a girl feels she has no other way of surviving other than allowing men to use them.

    kilihilaon December 28, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    You are all right in a way. Marriage is a form of prostitution, and this sing is about a female losing her power in that relationship. Specifically, she talks about being "poisoned against the moon", a refernce to menstratiuon which is often thought of as the source for "female power." How does a woman find her way back into her power after she has lost it? The dancing is the peformance of the marriage, leave the light on to remind the woman of who she was, what her power was, before she got lost in the marriage. But how can the mother leave the light on if she is trapped in a marriage as well? I really like how the image of the car -- which represents the transition to marriage for me -- changes from a green limosine to a black chariot. It looks good at the beginning, but then it changes.

    pjaneon January 01, 2005   Link

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