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Silent All These Years

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Title: Silent All These Years  
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Subject: Little Earthquakes, 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, Me and a Gun, Tori Amos, China (Tori Amos song)
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Silent All These Years

"Silent All These Years"
Standard artwork for 1991 release (U.S. cassette pictured)
Single by Tori Amos
from the album Little Earthquakes
A-side "Me and a Gun"
  • "Upside Down"
  • "Thoughts"
  • "Ode to the Banana King (Part One)"
  • "Song For Eric"
  • "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Released November 1991 (UK)
December 1991 (AUS)
April 1992 (US)
10 August 1992 (UK re-issue)
17 August 1992 (UK limited edition)
Genre Pop rock
Label Atlantic, EastWest
Writer(s) Tori Amos
Producer(s) Tori Amos, Eric Rosse
Tori Amos singles chronology
"Me and a Gun"
"Silent All These Years"

"Silent All These Years" is a song by American singer-songwriter and musician Tori Amos. It was released as the second single from her debut studio album Little Earthquakes. It was originally released in November 1991 in the UK by EastWest Records. It was released in North America in April 1992 by Atlantic Records and was later used to promote awareness of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). In the UK the single was re-released on August 10, 1992.


  • Origins 1
  • Video 2
  • Releases 3
    • Rerelease and later coverage 3.1
  • Track listings 4
  • Charts 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


"Silent All These Years" was written during Amos's search for self (and solo album material) after the failure of Y Kant Tori Read. According to her narrative during VH1 Storytellers, she originally wrote this song with Al Stewart in mind to sing it, and Eric Rosse, who was producing some other songs Amos had composed, heard it and told her, "You're out of your mind. That's your life story." So she kept it.

In the Little Earthquakes songbook, Amos reveals that writing the song was a slow, evolving process and that the light piano riff during the verses came first. This "bumble bee piano tinkle," as she calls it, is one of the more emblematic and recognizable parts of the song.

Lyrically, Amos was inspired by reading Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid story to her little niece, Cody.[1]


The video for "Silent All These Years" was the first of Amos's solo career. It was shot by Cindy Palmano over the course of two days. Palmano, who had been a stills photographer until this project, came up with the idea of Amos rolling inside a box, the image which is most often associated with the video. Other clips include impersonal shots of objects such as false breasts on a clothes hanger and flowing honey, which Palmano describes as having "a modern look, very clean." The video approaches a climax with shots of Amos twirling against an uneven surface, created by using a corner of a room painted such a crisp white that it's hard to tell that the wall is even there at all. For the final seconds, Amos's face fills the frame as she simply sings to the camera. The video for "Silent All These Years" was well-noted by the mass media. MTV, in March 1992, used "Silent All These Years" as a "Buzz clip". Additionally, the video was nominated for Breakthrough Video, Best Cinematography in a Video, Best New Artist in a Video, and Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1992. Rolling Stone magazine lists this video at #98 of the 100 greatest videos of all time.

The video has been released on two compilations: the Little Earthquakes VHS and Tori Amos: Complete Videos 1991–1998


"Silent All These Years" was initially a B-side of the first single, "Me and a Gun". The decision to release "Silent All These Years" came after UK station Radio One named it "Song of the Week".

In the United Kingdom, it was released as the second single from Little Earthquakes in November 1991. Formats included a 12" and CD maxi single with the B-sides "Upside Down", "Me and a Gun" and "Thoughts" and a 7" backed with "Me and a Gun". It was re-released in August 1992 as the 6th and final single. The re-release included a CD maxi single Part 1 with the original track-listing and a "Limited Edition" Part 2 containing "Ode to the Banana King (Part One)", "Song for Eric", and a live version of "Happy Phantom". Part two was quite a limited edition release and is now a rare find at used record stores. The reissued 7" and cassette single replaced the original B-side with a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

In the United States, "Silent All These Years" was released on cassette as the first single, post-Y Kant Tori Read, April 1992. Its lone B-side was "Upside Down". It was re-released March 4, 1997 as a promotional single for RAINN backed with a live version from "The Concert for RAINN" recorded January 23, 1997.

Rerelease and later coverage

1997 saw the rerelease of "Silent All These Years" in the United States as a CD single as a fundraiser for RAINN. The original album version is included along with a live version, significantly longer, recorded during the Concert for RAINN that was aired on Lifetime Television.

In 1998, the song was included on the compilation Atlantic Records: 50 Years—The Gold Anniversary. Another compilation, titled Respect: A Century of Women in Music and released in 1999 by Rhino Records, included this song on the last of its 5-disc set; the disc was labelled "Hip-Hop, Pop, and Passion". "Silent All These Years" appears between songs by Sinéad O'Connor and k.d. lang.

"Silent All These Years" is also included in a few compilations released by radio stations, such as kCRW Rare on Air, Star Lounge 99 released by KYSR, and Live at the World Cafe released by WXPN.

This song was one of sixteen to get a remastering treatment for inclusion on Tales of a Librarian, Amos's 2003 collection.

Asian diva Faye Wong covered the song in both Cantonese and Mandarin. Her version is called "Cold War" (冷戰). Singaporean singer Stefanie Sun also covered the original English version. Hong Kong singer-songwriter Chet Lam covered this song featuring Kay Tse in his 2006 concert album CAMPiNG iN Hong Kong.[2]

Track listings

The November, 1991 CD, 12", and 7" are identical except for title to the same singles for "Me and a Gun", released October, 1991.

UK CD single and 12" single (Nov 1991)
UK CD single Part 1 (Aug 1992)
  1. "Silent All These Years" – 4:11
  2. "Upside Down" – 4:22
  3. "Me and a Gun" – 3:42
  4. "Thoughts" – 2:36
UK 7" single (Nov 1991)
  1. "Silent All These Years" – 4:11
  2. "Me and a Gun" – 3:42
US Cassette Single (April 1992)
  1. "Silent All These Years" – 4:11
  2. "Upside Down" – 4:22
UK CD Single Part 2 (Limited Edition) (Aug 1992)
  1. "Silent All These Years" – 4:11
  2. "Ode to the Banana King (Part One)" – 4:06
  3. "Song for Eric" – 1:50
  4. "Happy Phantom" (Live) – 3:33
UK 7" Single and Cassette Single (Aug 1992)
  1. "Silent All These Years" – 4:11
  2. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" – 3:15
US RAINN Benefit CD Promo single (Atlantic PRCD 6986) (March 1997)
  1. "Silent All These Years" – 4:11
US RAINN Benefit CD single (March 1997)
  1. "Silent All These Years" (LP Version) – 4:11
  2. "Silent All These Years" (Live Version) – 5:28


Chart (1992) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 (1997) 65
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay (1997) 66
U.S. Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks (1997) 26
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 27
UK Singles Chart 26
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[3] 128


  1. ^ Silent All These Years Songfacts
  2. ^ Lam, Chet (2006), CAMPiNG iN Hong Kong CD & DVD booklet (tori amos is so cool 1st ed.), LYFE 
  3. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry (submitted to, received 2014-06-17". Retrieved 2015-03-04. 

External links

  • Lyrics -'s lyrics page for Silent All These Years, also including interview quotes and song credits.
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