The lyric sheet to Tori Amos' song "Precious Things" contains the printed line,
"So you can make me cum - that doesn't make you JESUS."
So why does my quote page say this:
"So you can come - that doesn't make you Jesus."
Because that's the way she actually sang it during a live performance I heard on KROQ-FM in Los Angeles.
And, more significantly, because it makes more sense that way - "to come" means, among other things, to have an orgasm. "Cum" is nothing but an obnoxious pornism, an all-too-common misspelling of that one sense of the word. I think Amos' pun is much, much richer if it can be understood at more than one level. Jesus is supposed to have come once (down to Earth, that is), and will supposedly come again before things are over. But just coming, man, even coming twice - that doesn't make you Jesus.
For an example of this ambiguity done well, by the way, listen to Kate Bush's "Wake the Witch," from the 1985 album Hounds of Love. The judge tells the witch "You won't burn. You won't bleed. Confess to me, girl. Go down." This is on its surface a reference to the ducking stool, which tested (and often drowned) suspected witches... but of course, to "go down" is itself often used as a pornographic phrase, and the judge's use of that term gives a glimpse into what may be his true motives for calling the witch into his chambers. But it's not explicit - the judge doesn't say "go down on me" - and the ambiguity makes Bush's song richer.
For Amos to remove the pun - to sing "make me cum," which has only one meaning - makes the written lyric worse, not better... and it doesn't matter if she herself thinks otherwise. She's not Jesus either, after all... she's just a very good musician.
©1997, 1999, 2008 Alan P. Scott. All rights reserved. Thanks to R.M. Macrae for bringing up the issue to begin with.
Last updated November 8, 2008.