Past the Mission

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"Past the Mission"
71qR-85e2CL. SL1425 .jpg
Single by Tori Amos
from the album Under the Pink
B-side "Black Swan"
Released 16 May 1994 (UK Limited Edition)

23 May 1994 (UK CD2)

4 July 1994 (AUS)

27 September 1994 (US)

Recorded April 1993
Genre Baroque Pop, Alternative Rock, Piano
Length 4:05
Label Atlantic, EastWest
Songwriter(s) Tori Amos
Producer(s) Tori Amos, Eric Rosse
Tori Amos singles chronology
"Pretty Good Year"

(1994)

"Past The Mission"

(1994)

"Caught a Lite Sneeze"

(1994)

Past the Mission (Limited Edition Single)
Released May 16, 1994.
Past the Mission (UK CD2)
Released May 23, 1994.

"Past the Mission" is a song by American singer-songwriter and musician Tori Amos. It was released as the third single from her second studio album Under the Pink in Europe, Australia and North America; but was the fourth release worldwide, due to a varied released schedule in different countries. "Past the Mission" was released in May 1994 by EastWest Records in the UK, in July 1994 in Australia, and in September 1994 by Atlantic Records in North America. Two different CD singles containing live B-sides were released in the UK, and the second of these was released in continental Europe and Australia. In the US, the single was only released commercially on cassette, although a promotional CD single was produced.

Background[edit | edit source]

Regarding the origins of the song, Amos commented:

""Past the Mission" refers to a personal experience with sexual violence, which I had a song about on Little Earthquakes also. So, the remark 'I once knew a hot girl' is painful. Where’s she gone? On this record there are songs about the healing from that experience, like "Baker Baker" ('Make me whole again'), "Past the Mission", "Yes, Anastasia". The idea is to rescue myself from the role of a victim. That I have a choice left. Though I can't change what has happened, I can choose how to react. And I don't want to spend the rest of my life being bitter and locked up. That’s also the thought behind the phrase 'past the mission/I smell the roses'."[1]

Trent Reznor, founder of the industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails, sings background vocals on this track.

You can find interpretative song meanings here.

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

I don't believe I went too far
I said I was willing willing willing
She said she knew what my books did not
I thought she knew what's up

Past the mission behind the prison tower
Past the mission I once knew a hot girl
Past the mission they're closing every hour
Past the mission I smell the roses

She said they all think they know him well
She knew him better better better
Everyone wanted something from him
I did too but I shut my mouth
He just gave me a smile

Past the mission behind the prison tower
Past the mission I once knew a hot girl
Past the mission they're closing every hour
Past the mission I smell the roses
Past the mission I smell the roses

Hey they found a body
Not sure it was his
still they're using his name
and she gave him shelter
and somewhere I know she knows
Somewhere I know she knows
Somethings only she knows

Past the mission behind the prison tower
Past the mission I once knew a hot girl
Past the mission they're closing every hour
Past the mission I smell the roses

Past the mission behind the prison tower
Past the mission I once knew a hot girl
Past the mission they're closing every hour
Past the mission I smell the roses
Past the mission I smell the roses
Past the mission I smell the roses

Improvisational Lyrics[edit | edit source]

Strange Little Tour Improvisations[edit | edit source]

October 14, 2001[edit | edit source]

(intro to the "hey, they found a body" bridge)

Frankincense
and sandalwood
thousands of years
we anoint him

Video[edit | edit source]

Versions[edit | edit source]

An alternate mix of "Past the Mission" from 1994 was included on Disc B of the 2006 boxset A Piano: The Collection. The song was remastered for the 2015 reissue of Under the Pink. A version of the song appears on some singles for the song including the remastered version from 2015. There were recorded versions for the Legs & Boots release, as well.

Music Video[edit | edit source]

The video begins with Tori holding hands with two young women, walking along a dirt road. As the three begin walking through a town, other women join them in their march until there's a large parade as the men look on. The women are eventually confronted by a male priest, who blocks their pathway. One by one the women move to the ground, laying flat as the priest walks around and steps over them. The priest is then joined by the rest of the men, who all walk away as the women stand up and continue their march, eventually finding themselves in the open field seen at the beginning of the video. The video ends with a young boy running to catch up with the ever advancing parade of women.

The music video was directed by Jake Scott.

Promotional Performances[edit | edit source]

You can find a list of promotional performances here.

Text Interviews[edit | edit source]

"Directions were always interesting... "ok honey, what you gotta do is, you know the Wal-Mart? Well, keep going soon you'll see a road across from the Chevron, take a left and follow that road till you see a bright turquoisey painted bird house. It's right after the creek at the bird house. It's not the first dirt road but the second. Go on down past the mission and you wanna take a right and you can't miss it."" - Tori Amos, Under the Pink songbook (1994)

"We love Elton [John]. "Past the Mission" has -- yeah, I can see that. George Porter Jr. from the Meters played on the whole record, and there's a lot of him on that, as much as Carlo Nuccio from the bottom end. I did the piano vocal first, but they played the track, which gave it that -- especially in the verses, that New Orleans kind of church meets Otis Redding meets, and they had a lot to do with bringing that out of the piece itself. Trent, obviously, it's nothing like he does in his work, which I found an interesting choice, because it wasn't for him to sing on something that was his, why do that? "Past the Mission" is a love story. It's kind of a strange one in that it's me again, still trying to find pieces that I've left other places. It kind of breaks my heart when I hear him sing with me, "I once knew a hot girl." Where is she now? She can come back again. It's that same thing, where in "Pretty Good Year" and "Past the Mission" and "Space Dog," where everything is reclaimable. ... With "Past the Mission" there's hope. "Past the mission I smell the roses," and Trent sings on it. I wanted him to sing on it because of his energy. I love his work. "Past the Mission" wanted him to sing on it.

I think there's also a bit of the Mary Magdalene/Jesus relationship in "Past the Mission," because I was reading Holy Blood, Holy Grail at the time. It has a lot of thoughts. It's a very long book about a historical viewpoint on everything, with the Cathars and all that happened in the Pyrenees, and the Merovingian dynasty and the whole nine yards. It's an interesting read. It opened my mind up a bit. More than anything, it was the sexual relations, even if it's just with yourself, surrounding the oppression of the church, and that's where "Past the Mission" again -- it's really freeing to me, that song. I've always kind of -- there's no resolve, either." - Tori Amos, Baltimore Sun (1994)

"Of course I believe they [Jesus and Mary Magdalene] were together. Of course I believe they were a couple and that she understood things. She represents the Goddess, the female, the feminine, the joining, the equality. "Some things only she knows." And until we acknowledge that there are some things only she knows; and there's some things only he knows, too; and until we have mutual respect, there's that prison tower, and there's that mission (church), and the hot girl got lost somewhere in between." - Tori Amos, Access (February 1994)

"The trouble in the churches is what I sing about in "Past the Mission." But there's also a lot of hope in that song because "Past the mission I smell the roses." There is a denouncement, I think, in this whole earth life. I'm not going to say -- although I think R.E.M.'s right that it is the end of the world as we know it -- that I think it's really showing itself as that. But "Past the mission I once knew a hot girl..." Where is she? Where did she bury herself? Again, it's trying to find the pieces of myself that I have numbed over the years. And there is life past the mission." - Tori Amos, Schwann Spectrum (Spring 1994)

"Who's the man in prison in "Past the Mission"?

The man who dies.

Are you the hot girl in that song?

Yeah, but also wondering, how do you get that back again? That part of you that hid in the holly bushes, as your father walked by after church. It's finding it -- the hot girl -- in you." - Tori Amos, BAM (March 11, 1994)

"This is "Past the Mission." In New Mexico, there's a big Pueblo nation there, Native American. And there are a lot of missions where the Spanish, the Conquistadors, came in. And they really stripped the native peoples of their culture and forced them to worship. And when I saw the missions, you just see. They're very beautiful but this is where a whole culture was really lost." - Tori Amos, Simon Mayo Show (March 30, 1994)

"Under the Pink made its debut this spring at No. 12.

It's a good feeling. I didn't know what this record was going to do.

That's partly because she was putting divergent elements into her songs.

Like in "Past the Mission," I was putting three totally different structures together: the verse, chorus and the bridge belonged to different things.

When she played an early version of it to a musician friend, he said he didn't think it worked.

And, I'm like: "That's your opinion. I mean, I was playing Chopin when you were peeing in your bed, so see ya!" I'm sorry, but sometimes you have to get a little protective. Or you put nothing out." - Tori Amos, Star Tribune (July 10, 1994)

"I wanted to keep the piano at the center while I experimented with different sounds. I mean, that was the whole idea. What arrangements can the piano hold? And through the whole process, we learned the piano can pretty much take anything. It's just this choice, like in that bridge of "Past the Mission," I'm playing a Vox organ around the piano, and Eric had styrofoam being pushed on the bottom end of the strings of the piano to create that strange bassoon sound. So there was a bit of prepared piano experimenting that we really didn't take as far as we really wanted to because we were short on time."

"Past the Mission" refers to a personal experience with sexual violence, which I had a song about on Little Earthquakes also. So, the remark "I once knew a hot girl" is painful. Where's she gone? On this record there are songs about the healing from that experience, like "Baker Baker" ("Make me whole again"), "Past the Mission," "Yes, Anastasia." The idea is to rescue myself from the role of a victim. That I have a choice left. Though I can't change what has happened, I can choose how to react. And I don't want to spend the rest of my life being bitter and locked up. That's also the thought behind the phrase "past the mission I smell the roses" - Tori Amos, St Louis Dispatch (July 15, 1994)

"Some things only She knows. There is a power that the feminine energy holds that hasn't been claimed, especially in religious mythology. "Past the Mission" is claiming that, I guess." - Tori Amos, The West Australian (August 11, 1994)

"There is also this huge underlying Holy Blood, Holy Grail theme in this song. What the Holy Grail was, the Blood Royal, was Mary Magdalene coming on a boat to the Mediterranean south of France carrying Jesus' baby -- the King of the Jews." - Tori Amos, Upside Down #5

"Past the Mission" is about a girl who refuses to be a victim anymore. But she has to face a lot of thought patterns to do that. I wrote this when I was reading the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. It talks about different theories on Christ. It talks a lot about Mary Magdalene. It's an underlying theme about how the church, the mission, has suppressed all this truth down through the years -- the Goddess energy. They refer to Mary Magdalene as the Black Madonna. She had this cult following in France. They believe that she came to the shores pregnant. When they say the Holy Grail, they mean the Holy Blood, the Blood Royal in her body, Jesus' baby. And some scholars believe this. The other parts don't necessarily ring right, but there have been these secret societies. That's what I'm talking about also in "Space Dog." There are loads of secret societies, this is only one of them. - Tori Amos, Really Deep Thoughts (Winter 1995)

"I always loved what he did, so "Past the Mission" said to me, "I want Trent [Reznor] to sing on me." And I said, "I'm sure you do." And, so, I made the call, and he was, uh, "open to that." And we, uh, did it at his house, you know, the old Tate House.." - Tori Amos, CFNY (Fall 1995).

"It wasn't necessarily my choice to record "Past the Mission" at the Tate House [the site of the Charles Manson murders]. I felt that Trent was the right voice to sing on the song and he was working there and so I went. When I drove up to the house, it was very strange because you know the information, and yet it's hard to believe that something so gruesome happened there. It didn't feel gruesome at all. It felt welcoming and creative. There was no sign that said, "This horrific thing happened here." Some artists can tap into things and create in a space knowing that kind of information. I wouldn't have been able to spend the night there." - Tori Amos, Under the Pink Deluxe Edition liner notes (2015)

Live Performances[edit | edit source]

The song has been played 182 times live to date.[2] You can find a list of live performances here.

Sheet Music[edit | edit source]

You can find sheet music for the song at the following links.

Piano[edit | edit source]

Figure Tori Out[edit | edit source]

Past the Mission

Music Notes[edit | edit source]

These transcriptions come from the official releases.

Past the Mission (P/V/G)

YANTA[edit | edit source]

Past the Mission (Instrumental)

Guitar[edit | edit source]

Music Notes[edit | edit source]

These transcriptions come from the official releases.

Past the Mission (P/V/G)

Past the Mission

Covers[edit | edit source]

The song has been covered[3] by:

You can find a list of official and unofficial covers here.

Other Appearances[edit | edit source]

Comic Book Tattoo[edit | edit source]

An eleven-page story inspired by "Past the Mission" was included in the 2008 graphic novel anthology Comic Book Tattoo, a collection of short comics based on Amos' songs. "Past the Mission" was written, pencilled and inked by Ted McKeever and coloured by Chris Chuckry. The story was one of the few entirely wordless pieces in the anthology.[4]

Releases[edit | edit source]

Past the Mission has been released both studio and live on different formats. These include the following:

Official[edit | edit source]

Fade to Red: The Video Collection was released in 2006.

Unofficial[edit | edit source]

Tracklisting[edit | edit source]

The UK CD single set was sold in two parts. The non-limited part (CD 2) comes in a slim jewel case and the disc features a photo-negative image of Amos playing a piano. The limited edition (CD 1) comes in a triple gatefold digipak case with two slots to house each CD in the set. In place of the second disc there is a cardboard cutout that looks like the CD. The owner can replace the cutout with the actual CD from the other half of the set. The second CD was also released in Germany and looks nearly identical excepting that the image on the disc is a positive image, not photo-negative.

UK limited edition CD single

  1. "Upside Down" (live) – 5:57
  2. "Past the Mission" (live) – 4:21
  3. "Icicle" (live) – 7:50
  4. "Flying Dutchman" (live) – 6:31

UK CD single 2/German CD/Australian CD

  1. "Past the Mission" (LP edition) – 4:05
  2. "Winter" (live) – 6:37
  3. "The Waitress" (live) – 3:29
  4. "Here. In My Head" (live) – 6:05

UK 7" single/UK, German and Australian cassette

  1. "Past the Mission" (LP edition)
  2. "Past The Mission" (live in Chicago March 1994)

US cassette single

  1. "Past the Mission" – 4:05
  2. "Black Swan" – 4:04

Charts[edit | edit source]

Chart (1994) Position
Australian Singles Chart 116
Irish Singles Chart 25
UK Singles Chart 31

Personnel[edit | edit source]

Credits taken from A Piano liner notes.[5]

  • Piano, vocals, Vox organ and stuff — Tori Amos
  • Guest vocal — Trent Reznor
  • Bass — George Porter Jr.
  • Drums — Carlo Nuccio
  • Percussion — Paulinho Da Costa
  • Guitars — Steve Caton
  • Alternate Mix on A Piano: The Collection mixed in 1994 by Kevin Killen

References[edit | edit source]

  1. St Louis Dispatch - July 15, 1994
  2. "All Tours - Tour." Tori Amos Setlist Database. http://www.toriset.org/index.php?t=0
  3. "Cover versions of Past the Mission by Tori Amos." SecondHandSongs, https://secondhandsongs.com/performance/721246
  4. Comics. http://www.comics.org/issue/537267/
  5. http://toriamos.com/go/galleries/view/177/1/8/albums/index.html
Under the Pink
Songs "Pretty Good Year" • "God" • "Bells for Her" • "Past the Mission" • "Baker Baker" • "The Wrong Band" • "The Waitress" • "Cornflake Girl" • "Icicle" • "Cloud On My Tongue" • "Space Dog" • "Yes, Anastasia"
B-sides "A Case of You" • "All the Girls Hate Her" • "Black Swan" • "Daisy Dead Petals" • "Home on the Range (Cherokee Addition)" • "Honey" • "If 6 Was 9" • "Over It" • "Sister Janet" • "Strange Fruit"
Outtakes "Peeping Tommi"
Related "Under the Pink Tour"
Tori Amos
Studio Albums "Little Earthquakes" • "Under the Pink" • "Boys for Pele" • "From the Choirgirl Hotel" • "To Venus and Back" • "Strange Little Girls" • "Scarlet's Walk" • "The Beekeeper" • "American Doll Posse" • "Abnormally Attracted to Sin" • "Midwinter Graces" • "Night of Hunters" • "Gold Dust" • "Unrepentant Geraldines" • "Native Invader" • "Ocean to Ocean"
Compilations "Tales of a Librarian" • "A Piano: The Collection"
Live Albums "To Venus and Back" • "The Original Bootlegs" • "Legs and Boots" • "Live at Montreux 1991/1992" • "From Russia with Love"
EPs "Crucify" • "Hey Jupiter" • "Scarlet's Hidden Treasures" • "Exclusive Session" • "Flavor (Peter Rauhofer Remixes)" • "Spotify Sessions" • "Russia" • "Christmastide"
Singles "Me and a Gun" • "Silent All These Years" • "China" • "Winter" • "Crucify" • "Cornflake Girl" • "God" • "Pretty Good Year" • "Past the Mission" • "Caught a Lite Sneeze" • "Talula" • "Professional Widow" • "Hey Jupiter" • "In the Springtime of His Voodoo" • "Spark" • "Jackie's Strength" • "Cruel" • "Raspberry Swirl" • "Bliss" • "1000 Oceans" • "Glory of the 80s" • "Concertina" • "Strange Little Girl" • "A Sorta Fairytale" • "Taxi Ride" • "Strange" • "Don't Make Me Come to Vegas" • "Mary" • "Angels" • "Sleeps With Butterflies" • "Sweet the Sting" • "Cars and Guitars" • "Take Me With You" • "Big Wheel" • "Bouncing Off Clouds" • "Almost Rosey" • "Welcome to England" • "Maybe California" • "500 Miles" • "A Silent Night With You" • "Carry" • "Nautical Twilight" • "Star Whisperer" • "Flavor" • "Gold Dust" • "Trouble's Lament" • "Promise" • "Flicker" • "Cloud Riders" • "Up the Creek" • "Reindeer King" • "Better Angels" • "Speaking With Trees" • "Spies"
Videos "Little Earthquakes" • "Live from New York" • "Complete Videos: 1991 - 1998" • "A Sorta Fairytale" • "Welcome to Sunny Florida" • "Fade to Red" "Live at Montreux 1991/1992" • "Live from the Artist's Den"
Tours "Little Earthquakes Tour" • "Under the Pink Tour" • "Dew Drop Inn Tour" • "Plugged '98 Tour" • "5 1/2 Weeks Tour" • "To Dallas and Back Tour" • "Strange Little Tour" • "Scarlet's Walk Tour" • "Lotta Pianos Tour" • "Original Sinsuality Tour" • "Summer of Sin Tour" • "American Doll Posse World Tour" • "Sinful Attraction Tour" • "Summer Tour 2010" • "Night of Hunters Tour" • "Gold Dust Orchestral Tour" • "Unrepentant Geraldines Tour" • "Native Invader Tour" • "Ocean to Ocean Tour"
Official Books "Piece by Piece" • "Comic Book Tattoo" • "Resistance: A Songwriter's Story of Hope, Change, and Courage" • "Little Earthquakes (book)"
Other Books "Tori Amos: All These Years" • "Pink Earthquakes" • "Tori Amos: Images and Insights" • "Tori Amos: Cornflake Girl" • "Tori Amos: Collectibles" • "Tori Amos: Lyrics" • "Pretty Good Years: A Biography of Tori Amos" • "Tori Amos: In the Studio" • "Tori Amos: Soul Searching and Uncensored" • "Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos" • "The Light Princess" • "Tori Amos: Complete Recordings Illustrated" • "Tori Amos's Boys for Pele (33 1/3)" • "Tori Amos Quotes" • "Celebrity Adult Coloring Book: Welcome to the World of Celebrities and Famous Bands" • "Tori Amos Bootleg Webring (Remember the Internet; vol. 2)" • "Tori Amos: every song, every album"
Songbooks "Little Earthquakes" • "Under the Pink" • "The Bee Sides" • "Boys for Pele" • "MTV Unplugged" • "Great Expectations Songbook" • "From the Choirgirl Hotel" "Tori Amos Anthology" • "1000 Oceans" • "Tori Amos: The Singles" • "To Venus and Back" • "Tori Amos for Fingerstyle Guitar with Tablature" • "Tori Amos for Easy Piano" • "Scarlet's Walk" • "Tori Amos Collection: Tales of a Librarian" • "The Beekeeper" • "American Doll Posse" • "Abnormally Attracted to Sin"
Related Articles "Delirium" • "Blue Skies" • "RAINN" • "Baltimore" • "The Light Princess"