“I dreamed things were frozen in ice, songs and other dreams. And the ice can carry secret messages that warm a little girl’s heart.” (Under the Pink songbook)
“this is about a girl that masturbates to survive, to really try and reclaim a part of her sexuality before they kill it, numb it out of her.” (World Cafe, March 18, 1994)
“The whole concept of God, that our institutions have taught us, whatever it is, it’s not just Christianity but the whole rigamarole, to me isn’t what it truly is. I don’t know what it truly is. But I don’t believe that what we’ve been taught is what it is. Most of us don’t—that’s not true. A few of us don’t. But when you’re 10 years old and being taught a belief system, you don’t have the wherewithal to go, "Well, when they’re putting this dried, stale cracker in my mouth, and telling me it’s all going to be OK, it’ll be OK if I put my little warm hand down on my little warm spot. That’ll make it a bit OK." That’s where "Icicle" comes in.” (The Baltimore Sun, January 30, 1994)
“Icicle” was inspired by Tori’s childhood as a minister’s daughter growing up in a repressive atmosphere where sexuality had to be denied in order to “love Jesus properly” — that’s what Tori’s paternal grandmother used to tell her when she was just 5. Young Tori was open-minded and curious and didn’t necessarily share her family’s views about Jesus and sexuality. As she was surrounded by portraits of Jesus all the time, she began to find him “cute,” which wasn’t something her grandmother accepted. “It was completely natural for a young girl to see a picture of a boy, even if he was a little older, and think he was cute —to me that was healthy. But she and the Church knocked all the health out of it,” she recounted in her 2005 autobiography Piece by Piece.
When she was ten years old, she discovered the music of British rock band Led Zeppelin thanks to her brother’s LPs and felt fascinated by the sensual voice of singer Robert Plant. Around that same time — although she later stated that she probably began doing it before she was 8— as she listened to their music, she began masturbating in her room while she was supposed to be taking a nap. “ I remember being quite young, back in Baltimore, before I was eight, in the bedroom I shared with my sister,” she thus writes in Piece by Piece. “She wasn’t there. It was afternoon, because the light was coming in, and I had this afghan made of wool. And I remember lying underneath it and squeezing my legs and pretending that Jesus was there. I didn’t know how you had sex, but I felt this feeling at the base of the spine and inside. In the soft place. I was just squeezing, like you do, and feeling him. And it was Jesus ; I was thinking of the picture they had downstairs."
These anecdotes find their way in “Icicle”’s lyrics as it clearly — though poetically — refers to a little girl taking a nap upstairs and beginning to masturbate thinking about Jesus as a man while her folks are downstairs singing prayers. The song is all the more striking because Tori doesn’t sing in a provocative way: there’s a genuine innocence in her voice and the piano is beautiful. The artist also chose a very particular event for this story to take place: Easter, in the middle of spring. Aside that Christian celebration, the spring season is also commonly seen as symbolizing personal growth and maturing because the nature blossoms. In that sense, it can be used as a metaphor of sexual awakening, something Tori also did with “In the Springtime of His Voodoo” on her third album Boys for Pele. The song of course deeply shocked conservative people and fundamentalists christians who harshly criticized her for singing about masturbation and dreaming of ’doing it’ with Jesus. Tori addressed an in-depth answer about the subject in her interview with Hot Press in February 1994: