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Explanation
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afro-sheeners
This is often listed as the nonsense phrase "afro-sheilas," but in fact the term is "afro sheeners," referring to people with the Afro hairstyle popular at the time of the song. Afro Sheen is a Johnson & Johnson product for maintaining the Afro hairstyle.

With this in mind, the term here can either describe the woman blushing at people from a starkly different culture than is familiar to her, or more broadly it can be seen to imply an attraction between the song's female protagonist and the black men she meets during her young life's journey.
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Explanation
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Portions for foxes
This line, and the title of the song, is a reference to Psalms 63:11:
"They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes."
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Explanation
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dans la maison
Dans la maison is French, translating to "in the house." Kind of ironic double-meaning here, pairing the pop culture declaration of "in the house" with the more mundane act of staying "in the house" to watch tv.
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Explanation
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Never really knowing it was always mesh and lace
For a long time I heard this line as "never really knowing it was always missionless," and I couldn't get over how dumb it sounded! What the heck does "missionless even mean?" I wondered.

Then one day I was like... Oh. Whoops!
Tori Amos – Spark
May 26, 2016
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Explanation
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She's convinced she could hold back a glacier
But she couldn't keep Baby alive
Doubting if there's a woman in here somewhere
Here
The song was written after Tori had suffered a miscarriage, this verse in particular is a frank summation of complex and conflicting emotions.

The song features an interesting interplay between a narrator and an unnamed female character, each clearly a stand-in for Tori herself. The first line here means the narrator sees that the character's self-perception of strength is flawed or overstated. The second line works both as a criticism from the narrator and as a confession of the character's sense of guilt. The third line reveals the two women as one, and this unified character questions her womanhood, in effect blaming herself for the miscarriage and feeling that she's somehow less of a woman as a result.

This is especially poignant in light of the strong overall feminist theme of Tori's writing. Clearly pregnancy is not the entirety of a woman's identity, but it's also completely natural to feel guilt when a desired pregnancy is lost.

Tori's writing is often very dense with meaning, working simultaneously on many levels, and this is once again shown to be true in this verse.
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Explanation
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And burns his CDs
This likely refers to the actual destruction of CDs, rather than copying CDs. The song was released in 1994, long before consumer-end CD production was available for most people, and the phrase "I burned a CD" was still years in the future.
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Explanation
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Midnight, you come and pick me up, no headlights
The phrase "burning flames or paradise" clearly alludes to a "hell or heaven" outcome for the relationship. It's tempting (and easy) to connect this simply to Taylor's romantic history, but the song as a whole also works as a broader metaphor for temptation in general.

The theme is repeated throughout the song: in Verse 1 the male character (representing temptation) approaches stealthily in darkness, late at night. The female characer (representing innocence) has interacted with him before and knows the likely outcome, but she resigns herself to the inevitability of their involvement.

The man is likened to James Dean, the classic "bad boy" heartthrob who, as the figure of temptation, is drawn to "red lip, classic" aspect of the woman, as well as her "good girl faith" ripe for corruption. The song also repeats the idea that this happens again and again, a cycle in which she is tested and fails but then tries anew.

Verse 2 shows the characters returning home, again in darkness, where she confronts him about her involvement with (temptation of) other women, which he admits, but he insists that he's most drawn to her, either for her innocence or for her willingness to try again after faltering. She admits as much, having "been there, too, a few times."

The bridge shows her finally embracing temptation, or perhaps a recognition that her desires aren't wrong after all.

Sure, the song works as a boy/girl story, but Taylor's a sophisticated lyricist, and I'm not convinced that the story need be as simple as that.


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Explanation
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Show me the ways to get back to the garden
A clear allusion to the biblical Garden of Eden. To "get back to the garden" would be a return to paradise, but it would more broadly indicate a return to (or reclamation of) lost innocence.
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Explanation
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Tell me which hand I use
Double entendre suggesting two very different levels of intimacy. "Which hand I use" can, of course, describe one's general handedness (left or right) and implies only casual familiarity.

But in the larger context of Tori's work, it also evokes profound, intimate familiarity, if we read it as "which hand I use (to masturbate)." This meshes nicely with the lyrics of Icicle and with the recurring themes of sexuality in her writing.
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Explanation
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Tod brownings freak you was
Refers to Tod Browning's 1932 cult classic film Freaks about a community of carnival sideshow performers.
This early horror film featured a number of real-life "freaks" with unusual physical characteristics.
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Explanation
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Thought I'd been through this in 1919
Counting the tears
Of ten thousand men
1919 refers to the year in which the 18th Amendment was ratified, prohibiting alcohol. This implies some punishment incurred by the narrator after she's caught driving drunk in the previous lines.
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Explanation
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Driving on the vine
Over clothes lines
But officer I saw the sign
"The vine" in this context is an indirect reference to wine (from grapes grown on a vine). The narrator is arrested for DWI, having driven "over clothes lines." This is followed by her plea/rationalization to the arresting officer.
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Explanation
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nine-inch nails
This is a two-fold reference, both to Trent Reznor's band Nine Inch Nails, as well as to the purported length of the nails used to crucify Jesus. Amos and Reznor are longtime friends, and he likewise took his band's name from this legend.
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Explanation
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Heard the eternal footman
"The eternal footman" is a reference to Death as characterized in T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
Sia – Chandelier
Oct 14, 2015
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Explanation
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Like it doesn't exist
I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night,
Feel my
Again, if we accept "swing from the chandelier" as a literal description of the narrator's planned suicide, then "feel my tears as they dry" becomes a literal statement to whoever finds her body.

With this interpretation there is a bitterness, a sense of derision and dismissiveness, as if the narrator resents the person or persons she's leaving behind. The line might be read as "feel my tears as they dry" (for all I care).
Sia – Chandelier
Oct 14, 2015
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Explanation
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Like it doesn't exist
I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night,
Feel my
If we accept the interpretation that the previous two lines are the narrator's reflection on her planned suicide by hanging, then the bird in this line signifies her soul leaving her body.
Sia – Chandelier
Oct 14, 2015
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Explanation
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lose count

[Chorus:]
I'm gonna swing from the chandelier,
From the chandelier
I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist
Many see this as a fantasy of luxury and excess, swinging from a chandelier in an unrestrained celebration of wealth and the freedom afforded by it.

Alternatively, and in the context of heavy drinking as shown elsewhere in the song, this might be the narrator's warning of suicide by hanging, literally "swinging from the chandelier."

This is, of course, a much darker interpretation of the song, contradicting the celebratory dream that others have suggested.
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Explanation
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My studies include suffragy
Many online lyric databases identify the term "suffragy" here, a word that does not appear at Dictionary.com. There is some precedent for the use of this artificial word which means, roughly, "relating to or pertaining to matters of suffrage," the right to vote.

The word makes no sense in the context of this song and only seems reasonable at all in light of Bowie's later Suffragette City.

The correct word here is "exophagy," which means cannibalism practiced outside of one's immediate group or tribe.
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Explanation
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Your eyes focus on my funny lip shape
This is an indirect way of saying that the male partner watches the narrator's mouth move, creating a "funny lip shape," but he isn't actually listening.

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Explanation
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Boy you best praya that I bleed real soon
"Bleed" in this context refers to menstruation and implies that the narrator's period is late, suggesting a possible unintended pregnancy.

It seems likely that the line reflects the narrator's thoughts, rather than a literal statement to her male partner.

In light of the dysfunctional relationship between the unnamed narrator and her partner, the tone of this line is a darkly sarcastic acknowledgment of the difficulty that a pregnancy would cause in such circumstances.
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Explanation
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Caught a ride with the moon
In one of Neil Gaiman's Sandman storylines, A Game of You, several female characters travel to a magical realm called The Land after casting a spell with menstrual blood and invoking the moon. In effect, they "caught a ride with the moon" to this mystical place.
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Explanation
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Me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the dream king
This refers to Neil Gaiman, who wrote the Sandman comic under the DC comics imprint Vertigo. The "dream king" is the title character of that series, Morpheus aka Dream.
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