"Precious Things"
Promo single by Tori Amos from the album Little Earthquakes


Little Earthquakes




Alternative rock




Atlantic Records


Tori Amos


Tori Amos
Eric Rosse

"Precious Things" is the fourth song on Tori Amos's debut album Little Earthquakes.


"Precious Things" was written during the second phase of creating Little Earthquakes, a period that also yielded "Girl", "Tear in Your Hand", and "Little Earthquakes". This batch of songs was recorded in Eric Rosse's home studio.

After the initial version of Little Earthquakes was rejected by Atlantic Records, Tori and Eric went on a trip through the American West. Tori came up with the song's riff while sick in the Rocky Mountains, noting that the riff "started building in my head. I think I had been forming it before we left ... But everything came together when I got really ill in the Rockies... And I think layers were coming off my life -- shields that I had built up in order to filter things".[1]

At her VHS Storytellers concert in 1998, Tori recounted that "Precious Things" "came to me while I was living behind a church. ... I had a roommate that listened to really raucous music and it started to take me into flashbacks of my grandmother. ... So, behind this church with this music going on and on in my head, I started to really think that maybe just one day I could run faster." (VHI Storytellers)

The bridge of "Precious Things" references the band Nine Inch Nails by name. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor provided backup vocals for "Past the Mission" on Tori's subsequent record Under the Pink. When asked whether Reznor knew about the reference, Tori stated that "

Other appearances[]

Comic Book Tattoo[]

A five-page story inspired by "Precious Things" was included in the 2008 graphic novel anthology Comic Book Tattooa collection of short comics inspired by Amos' songs.[2] "Precious Things" was written, pencilled, inked and lettered by Emma Vieceli and coloured by Faye Wong.[3] Viecelli later cited being invited to do the piece as one of the proudest moments of her career.[4]

Page from "Precious Things".

Live performances[]

The first recorded performance of "Precious Things" took place at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1991. The song has been played during all of Tori's tours since;[5] Matt Mazur of PopMatters referred to "Precious Things" as "[p]ossibly the most performed song of Tori's career" in 2012.[6]

"Precious Things" has gone through several incarnations over the years, including on the Dew Drop Inn Tour in 1996. During this tour, according to Mazur, "the song morphed into something far more sinister and discomfiting" than its previous live performances and "marked the arrival of the difficult-to-listen-to animalistic growl that replaced the word “girl” and the impossible-not-to-watch clawing of her thighs en route to her crotch ... [c]oupled with a child-voiced Amos whispering “Wash me clean, Daddy” before barking the song to a close".[7]

A full-band version of the song debuted during the 1998 Plugged Tour, a version replicated by Tori on her subsequent band tours in 2002-2003 and 2007, where it became a fixture of her show's encores.[8] Mazur notes that this arrangement of "Precious Things" was altered for the 2009 Sinful Attraction tour, "calling to focus a new instrumental call-and-response with her band as she geared up for the bridge, brilliantly allowing both artist and audience to breathe in a few moments of calm all knew would not last long".[9] (pompadours)

During the 2011 Night of Hunters Tour, the song was arranged for the Apollon Musagete Quartet, a version on which Mazur claims Tori "finally achieved the song’s cinematic potential, her piano back at the forefront and shrill, wayward string plucks and moans insidiously getting under the skin of the song better than any guitar ever could".

Live performances of "Precious Things" are included on Live at Montreux, the 'Live - Still Orbiting" disc of To Venus and Back, the 2003 live DVD Welcome to Sunny Florida, and the 2007 Legs & Boots concert bootlegs.

Television performances[]


Remastered and re-recorded versions[]

Remastered versions of "Precious Things" were included on the 2003 greatest hits collection Tales of a Librarian, the 2006 boxed set A Piano: The Collection, and the 2015 reissue of Little Earthquakes.

The song was re-recorded with the Metropole Orchestra for the 2012 orchestral album Gold Dust with a new Prokofiev-inspired arrangement by John Phillip Shenale. Tori commented, speaking with PopMatters in 2012, that "we had to retain the energy that we had in 1992, but we had to infuse this energy in a different way. What orchestras can do with their dynamics is unbelievable, and they can get very powerful. ... Philly and I were talking and we said, “This has to be Prokovief (sic), no question, and that’s where were we have to take it".[10] The version of "Precious Things" on Gold Dust was widely praised by the press. The Line of Best Fit called it one of the finest moments on the album, (, and look at reviews of the album.


Credits adapted from the Little Earthquakes album booklet.

  • Acoustic and electric pianos, vocals – Tori Amos
  • Drums – Carlo Nuccio
  • Bass  – Will McGregor
  • Guitars, acoustic and electric  – Steve Caton
  • Keyboard programming – Eric Rosse
  • Rat pedal  – Jake Freeze
  • Backgrounds  – Eric, Caton, Tori
  • Recorded by Eric Rosse and Dan Nebenzal
  • Mixed by Paul McKenna
  • Produced by Tori Amos and Eric Rosse