I know many say that music videos are not meant to be analyzed, and I agree, which is why I used the word “significance” in my title.
Simply put, music videos are a way for artists to express themselves, and if they put out a really good video, it will leave fans puzzled, allowing them to make up their own interpretations.
Tori Amos has always been a huge influence of mine, and all her videos are brilliant, yet “Spark” is extremely underrated in its symbolism, and I felt there were tons of messages here.
In this article, I’m going to describe the aspects of the video that stuck out in my mind. In no way am I saying these interpretations are correct; they’re simply what I see in my head.
In several interviews, Tori briefly stated that she wrote this song after experiencing a miscarriage in 1996. During this time, she struggled immensely with many opposing forces, all of which tested her faith in God (“God” being whatever Tori believes in.)
The video opens up with Tori blindfolded, laying in the dirt beside a black car that has crashed into a tree. It appears she has been kidnapped, and somehow managed to escape out of the truck of the car.
The opening scene shows a butterfly on her womb, symbolic of the life that she once held there. She seems to be wearing a maternity-type dress, and as the video goes on, it seems there is still a tag on the back; perhaps reflecting that she never got to wear this dress due to the loss of her child. The dress itself is also luminescent; in stark contrast to the darkness of the video.
Before she begins her journey of escape, she briefly touches a tree with the name “Skeeter” carved into it. In several interviews, Tori stated that Skeeter was what she called her baby when it was inside of her.
We see glimpses of her kidnapper; faceless, in a suit and nice shoes (contrasting her bare feet,) and constantly looking at his watch. I feel this man is symbolic of Father Time; he who gives but mostly takes away. When a woman decides to have a child, and then experiences miscarriage, it’s almost as if her clock is ticking; she may think of all the what if’s… “Was I never meant to have this baby?” or “Should I have gotten pregnant sooner?” or “What if I was never meant to have a baby?”
Being blindfolded, one has no sense of direction, which is how many feel when their going through a dark time in their life. She goes through the video blindfolded until she enters the water. After she gets out of the water, she seems a bit more hopeful that she’ll find her way out of the woods; water, in itself, is symbolic of cleansing or purging.
As she approaches the road, she stops a white car with the license plate “PRK” and asks for help. In the car is two blondes; one male one female. They eye her suspiciously, than keep driving. While this is pure speculation, I feel the use of two similar-looking people of different sexes was meant to represent androgyny.
At the beginning of time, many believe, not that women came from man, but that women and man were one; the division of the sexes was only caused due to “The Fall.” In many religions, such as Gnosis, people believe that to really reach God, you have to tap into your own spirit, which is of the opposite sex that you are. For example, if you are a woman, the spirit inside of you will be male. So while many believe God wants them to find a mate to reproduce, God really wants us to, first and foremost, become one with our spirit; that is our true other half. Therefore, the two blondes in the car could represent division of something that was once unified. Tori felt this way about the child inside of her, but when she lost it, her faith was tested to the extreme, and she had to learn to get through this obstacle on her own. While the blondes in the white car seemed to be a beacon of light, this was an illusion, for they didn’t help her. Furthermore, she thought she escaped the kidnapper, but in the end, she was still helpless.
Earlier in the video, we see drops of oil drip from the car, exploding it in flames. At the end of the video, we see drops of Tori’s blood drip onto a leaf. While the explosion of fire certainly could explain the way she felt, the blood on the leaf could be symbolic of nature, also known in some religions as the true sacred feminine. She looks up at the end, with her hands tied, as if she finally knows she must surrender to what has happened, and dig herself out of this hole.
I believe the title “Spark,” while certainly representing the aspect of something that keeps us alive, is symbolic of the “divine spark,” which is something inside every human being that connects us with God, although people rarely attempt to unleash it. Certainly Tori, at the time, felt that her “spark” was missing, “doubting if there’s a woman in there somewhere.” But in the end, she realizes she must succumb to forces beyond her control, in order to get her natural spark back.
There are tons of more details in this video that I wasn’t able to decipher, such as, about a minute and a half in, images of a beetle, than some sort of pin, than some sort of tear in fabric.
Whatever your take on this video, you can’t deny its fantastic use of imagery and symbolism. Tori, you’re a genius.
View “Spark,” here.