You find so many stories in Los Angeles. (Tori Amos in an interview with Rolling Stone)
Amber Waves is the opening song of Tori Amos' album Scarlet's walk, and the beginning of Scarlet's - the fictional character of the album, somewhat akin to Tori herself - journey.
Amber Waves is a song driven by piano and rhythm. It has much less discordance than what is usual in Tori Amos songs. It's like instead of moaning, she has decided to look for the beauties in life.
The song has a very immediate opening. You can almost hear Tori's intake of breath before she begins, her and the piano, just like it was in the old days. Yet it's not the same. Gone is the teen angst that many of her fans loved, gone is the screeching voice that many of her non-fans hated. The singer appears to have matured, and the material confirms that she has. Instead of focussing on her own problems, she is now out to help other people's.
Well He lit you up
like Amber Waves in his
He fixed you up real good
till I don't know you anymore
from Ballet Class to a Lap Dance
straight to video
And the pool side news
was that he would be
Scarlet's travels begin on the west coast of America, in Los Angeles. The name is deeply symbolical: It is the name of a porn star in the movie Boogie Nights, but also a phrase in the patriotic song America The Beautiful.
In the song, Amber is a girl Scarlet knows. The story starts with this Amber making a wave. I imagine a long-lost friend making a phone call. Scarlet receives it with joyful surprise, only to be pulled back down to earth and below when she hears what her friend has to tell.
Into every young man's
Bedroom you gave it up
on DVD and magazine you gave it up
a private rite of passage you gave it up
to every boy's sweet dream
with their paper cuts
She is in trouble. With a man. Having arrived in Los Angeles with a young girl's Hollywood dream in her luggage, Amber has ended up in the sleaze industry, making porn for the young and the brave.
You say "there's not a lot
left anymore -- just leave it alone.
But if you're by,
and you have the time, tell the
Northern Lights to keep shining -- Lately
it seems like they're drowning"
So Scarlet goes to see her, and together they set out on a journey: To Vegas, through Nevada, before they take a plane to Alaska to see the Aurora Borealis, the dawn of the north.
Amber Waves is followed by a sorta fairytale.