Silent All These Years

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"Silent All These Years"
Tori amos silent all these years cassette.jpg
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"
Released11 November 1991 (UK)
3 February 1992 (AUS)[1]
April 1992 (US)
10 August 1992 (UK re-issue)
17 August 1992 (UK limited edition)
LabelAtlantic, EastWest
Songwriter(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.


Amos wrote "Silent All These Years" during a period of self-reflection and searching for solo album material after the failure of Y Kant Tori Read. According to VH1 Storytellers, she originally wrote this song with Al Stewart in mind to sing it. 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."

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.[2]


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[edit]

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.[3]

Singer/songwriter Mackenzie Shivers recorded and released her cover of "Silent All These Years" in 2017.

Track listings[edit]

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, 7" and 12" single (Nov 1991)
  1. "Silent All These Years" – 4:11
  2. "Me and a Gun" – 3:42
UK CD single Part 1 (Nov 1991; re-issued 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
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 (1991) Position
UK Singles Chart[4] 51
Chart (1992) Position
Australian Singles Chart[5] 128
UK Singles Chart[4] 26
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[6] 27
Chart (1997) Position
US Billboard Hot 100[7] 65
US Adult Top 40[8] 26


  1. ^ "New Release Summary – Product Available from: 03/02/92 (from The ARIA Report Issue No. 105 – Week Ending 2 February 1992)". ARIA. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  2. ^ Silent All These Years Songfacts
  3. ^ Lam, Chet (2006), CAMPiNG iN Hong Kong CD & DVD booklet (tori amos is so cool 1st ed.), LYFE
  4. ^ a b "Official Charts > Tori Amos". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  5. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 2014-06-17". Archived from the original on 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  6. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Tori Amos > Chart History > Alternative Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  7. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Tori Amos > Chart History > The Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  8. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Tori Amos > Chart History > Adult Pop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-04-09.

External links[edit]