Charlie Rose
October 19, 1999

Tori appeared on the Charlie Rose Show on PBS on Tuesday, October 19, 1999. Tori was the second of three guests on the one hour show. The interview was really interesting, and you can read more about it and see photos below. I now have a complete transcript of the interview below.

If you missed Tori on Charlie Rose, you should be able to purchase transcripts or videos of the program! Shows are usually available from (800) ALL-NEWS. Transcripts cost $7 through the mail, Videos cost $29.95. You can write to (800) All-News at:

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For credit card orders, fax, e-mail or rush orders, call (800) ALL-NEWS (800-255-6397). You can also try going through the 800-All-News website, which has a searchable database of past shows. Since the Tori episode was just aired, I am not sure if you can buy one right away or if you have to wait for a while...

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Full Transcript Of The Show

This comes from Christina and Tracy Streimish:

Charlie: Her latest project "To Venus And Back" is a
two disc set consisting of both studio and live
performances. I am very pleased to have this native of
North Carolina on this program. Welcome.

Tori: Thank you.

Charlie: Boy, you are hot. Look it, this is Rolling
Stone for what, I don't know what year this is or when
this was but there it is and here is Spin and here is
*Jon Pareles* with a piece called *"Disclosing
Intimacies: Enjoying The Shock Value."* All writing
about you. You've just come off this tour with you and
Alanis Morrissette?

Tori: Yes.

Charlie: Sold out. 5 1/2 weeks. What's going on in
music where there's more audience demand to see women
than there is men?

Tori: Well, I think that it's --

Charlie: Coming of age?

Tori: It's, it's... Yeah. If you think about for a
long time we haven't really talked about the female
composers until this century. It's not that there
haven't been any. I'm sure Mozart had a sister and she
was very talented but nobody cares about her. And it's
always been this, I don't know.... In the past that
the artists were the men and the muses were the women
and now I, um, have many muses actually.

Charlie: Do you really?

Tori: Yeah, I do.

Charlie: Like who?

Tori: Well, sometimes they're strangers and they walk
past and I sort of weave them into a tale. Sometimes
they're people that I know quite well and so I have
to... It's a bit tricy because you don't want to
expose them too much but if the material's too good
then I have to write about them.

[both laugh]

Charlie: You know there are certain things about
writers. The highest obedience they have is to putting
something on paper. I doesn't matter whose story it
is. It doesn't matter whose conversation they're
recording - in their head. The idea of what they write
is the most significant imperative in their life.

Tori: There's a tradition of musicians that if you
really.... I think, if music is first for you, more
than, um, I guess we could say.... Sometimes I think
people qualify their work by how many records tey've
sold or their chart position and yet that's not part
of being a tradition of musicians. A tradition of
musicians is when there's a sacredness to the music
and that you have your little toolbox and you know
that, in a sense, you're co-creating with this force
that can kind of look at you at any point ans say,
"I'm finished with you." So it's quite important, I
think, for composers to just really..... Put the muse

Charlie: Listen to you: "If we could express ourselves
another way, we wouldn't be songwriters. I don't think
you write songs because in your everyday living you
express yourself exactly in the way you want."

[slightly long pause from both of them, this always
get a laugh out of me, Charlie continues:]

So you write songs because it's the only way for you
to express who you are and what you feel? Whether it's
a personal tragedy of seering consequence or whether
it's a celebration of father and son or whatev - of
father and daughter or whatever it might be.

Tori: Or a tornado -

Charlie: Or a tornado -

Tori: of father and daughter.

Charlie: or yes, you're right. Or not a celebration,
but a tornado. I'm gonna come back to your life cause
it's interesting. I mean, you've ended up from Newton,
North Carolina to the Peabody Conservatory in
Baltimore and then hung around the Maryland area. It's
interesting cause you, when you were at the Peabody,
you were clearly the youngest person ever there,
weren't you?

Tori: Well, that's what they tell me.

Charlie: Well, you were like 11?

Tori: No, I was 5 1/2 when I was accepted and I got
kicked out when I was 11.

Charlie: So you made it for 5 years?

Tori: I finished at 11. Yeah. It was over for me.

Charlie: It was? Ok. We'll find out what you found out
about yourself. Now, this tour with Alanis
Morrissette, tell me about her. Do you like her? Do
you admire her? Is she good?

Tori: She's a lovely person, good heart. She's good at
what she does.

Charlie: That's it?

Tori: That's good!
C: I mean.. well, was their conflict, was there tension? or was it just a
T: no tension because.. I think honestly, she approached me and she did it
in a way that was like, "hey, lets be creative and put two shows together,
two separate shows and um.. I had to bring my own production. I didn't want
to do anything where I couldn't bring my own production because that's not
how i work. I have a pirate ship, I have a captain..
C: yes
T: I'm the ship(giggle)
C: yes
T: i have loads of chefs
C: yes
T: and all sorts of people floating around. thieves, fantastic. few
C: yes
T: all on my ship
C: yes
T: and we all had to come and be respected that, you know, no compromise on
any level. and, she has her captain, she is her ship, and of course thats
how it had to be approached. and, because of that mutual respect it worked
out really well.
C: This business of being of being a rock star demands.. I've never seen
such attention to every aspect of it..which seems like just fun. There is
this obsession.
T: You know what they call me?
C: What do they call you?
T: They call me an ant fucker.
C: Do they really?
T: yeah
C: why?
T: because um..every cell..
C: : yeah
T: every shape
C: : yeah
T: we spend time tweaking and tweaking.
C: here's the question: why are you so obsessed with every cell?
T: Because it makes a difference.
C: In quality or sales?
T: Oh, in quality. I mean you know. I see myself sort of as a small to
medium vineyard. And.. they usually don't sell as much as the screwtop wine
down in Safeway. But, I don't make wine for Safeway. God bless Safeway.
Safeway is a necessary um..thing. But, that's not why I..if I'm a winemaker,
I'm not going to make screwtop wine.
C: So heres what you are. First of all, you're classically trained. You
know that whole little experience at Peabody served you well.
T: Classicly failed. yeah.
C: Classically failed, right. But.. you picked up something there, didn't
T: A bit
C: All right, i want to come back to this passion you have with the piano.
But what did you pick up there, when you were hanging out at the conservatory?
T: Playing with structure and form and understanding that um.. You see, they
were stuck in what was the structure and form of what they were studying
instead of trying to push the parameters of what was structure and form in
1968. And, I brought in one of the Beatles' records, I'm not quite sure what
it was...
C: Sgt. Pepper?
T: It could've been that. I did love that record, but I might've brought in
Revolver and said, you know there's something going on here.. where these
guys are pushing something that iIthink we should really study. And, they
really um..
C: they didn't like that idea at all?
T: no.. They just they couldn't. conceive of it. And, I said, yeah but this
is the Bartoch of this time, and they really... because it was in a
different shape..then they couldn't understand it.
C: so when you left there. i mean at the tender age of 10 or eleven what was
it you set out to do and become?
T: To prove them wrong.
C: To prove them wrong?
T: Sure.
C: To show that you could do what?
T: To show them there has to be a vitality in..composers hmm.. not just
about.. we go back to what gets played or what gets heard, because there's
always been polkas, and stuff that people have been singing through the ages,
you know. There's always been that "entertainment" side but then. I think
we go back to being musicians and composers. A lot of times, it's in front of
us, it's happening, and people aren't embracing it until you look back ten
years later, and then all of a sudden you go, "oh my god."
C: Pretty good
T: They were onto something.
c: Yeah, well that's the nature of .
T: Hm..yeah.
C: um..But so you set out to find your own.. place, set out to find your own
T: Carved, carve my own place.
C: to carve your own place, huh?
T: yeah.
C: This..has so much to do with your (review?) but I want to hear so much,
and it takes time to get it out here. To Venus and Back, this new CD. Did
you write all these songs?
T: Sure.
C: Bliss.. is about.. "Father, I killed my monkey." This is
about what?
T: uh..Actually it's about my relationship with the Christian god. Instead
of "Father who art in heaven", its "Father, i killed my monkey" and because
my father um..
C: methodist minister
T: Methodist grandparents church of god ministers. Theyre gone
now. But it was very much about um..the Marys, the two Marys were divided,
the Magdalene and the Mother in the psyche. So, the Mother
Mary um..the way I see it and the way I think a lot of mythology people that
I respect see it is that she was severed from her sexuality, the Mother Mary,
and the Mary Magdalene was severed from her spirituality and her wisdom. So,
there's a division here..of almost this um..circumcision of women, Christian
women have had to work through for the last 2000 years, and I feel the
control that's really gone on. yYou know this whole thing of divide and
conquer, it's a joke really. Divide and conquer what a village? No, divide
and conquer a person with themselves, that's control. Then, you think you
have to go through these people for some kind of..uh..soul purification some
kind of um..acceptance and forgiveness, and I'm like no, no. The Christian
god can sit over there, and we can have a chat, and he can do stuff i can't
do, I'm only a woman. But no, there's gotta be respect that I'm a woman,
he's multi -dimensional. But, I don't see the Christian god for me as the
divine being. I think there are a lot of gods in a lot of cultures that have
things to say, and some of them I disagree with, and some of them I think
have a lot of deep truth. But in Bliss, it was very much.. I'm part of you,
I'm made of you, and there's gotta be a point where I don't have to keep
being something in your eyes. Now, this is the Christian teaching, we're not
walking into, you know, Cherokee teaching. we're talking about the Christian
teaching that I was brought up with, and this is my line in the sand really
saying, wow, we've got this groovy relationship, don't we? Christian woman,
Christian god. So, I'm marrying the two Marys in my own being, in my psyche.
C: If I walk out of this studio, and someone comes up to me and says, "Who's
on today?" and I say, Tori Amos. They say, "Who is she?" I say what?
T: She's the one that you sent the letter to and wanted to blow her up
(giggle) probably.
C: Really?
T: Well, you know..sometimes I think the Christians really misunderstand.
They think I don't like them's not that at all. It's that there has
to be a place where you don't dishonor my spirituality and i don't dishonor
yours. And, this need that a few of the religions have had to no matter what
take over, even if they kill. That really isn't "Love your neighbor as
yourself "as far as I'm concerned. This is what I say to the Christians, and
they get really upse: Jesus would not be a Christian right now, okay. You
guys have gotta own what you did to the indigenous people of America first.
Big shadow.
C: Is this your cherokee part speaking?
T: This is my woman speaking and my Cherokee part speaking, yeah
C: The woman thing..did it change a lot after you saw that movie Thelma and
T: um..I was..
C: I mean, you could not stay away from that movie.
T: I couldn't stay away from that movie, and I was inspired to write Me and
a Gun.
C: This had to be the most the most seering the most..lyrics that you could
ever write because it's the story your rape.
T: It's based on .. it's based on my story..
C: And, because you could write about it and sing about it..did what for you?
T: well... I think there were different levels to it because..number one
I've always said i co-write the songs with the creative force, and she shows
up, and we write the songs together. I'm really a translator. And yet, it
comes through my filter, so bits of me are in there. And with Me and a Gun,
at a certain point, I felt like um.. I had to get some distance form it
because I was so under a microscope, and um to the point where people were
asking me details about...the incident and.. I had to...finally pull back and
realize I had to keep something for the internal person, the internal Tori,
and that's tricky when you write things that are very..
C: personal?
T: personal.. and graphic
C: So, what do you hold back?
T: Well, sometimes it''s a little intangible when iIexplain this to you
because I don't really see the picture myself but relationship with
the song is private. I write it, and I put it out there, and people have
their relationships with different songs but taking a walk with big
burly boots and holding hands with them and crying with them or
giggling with them ,you know it's a very different, it's a very different,
it's a private relationship because I do have relationships with..
C: the audience too
T: all the songs.
C: And, well, with all the songs and with the audience, too. I mean, you
make a big point of, from what I've read about you, that this audience thing
is.. I mean, you are on the road more than anybody I know. Your history is to
be on the know, true?
R: Yeah, road dog.
C: You are a road dog. You, and.. bruce was a road dog.
T: Yeah
C: And, the connection..and you think you couldn't be where you are if you
hadn't done that.
T: No..
C: You don't? You could've not.. you could've avoided that and not be the
person you are, the songwriter you are, the aryist you are?
T: No, I had to do that. There's no way that I would make the music that I
continue to make. I was playing clubs since I was thirteen, so it's really
much a part of .. I don't know, my I don't know, what makes me up.
My soup.
C: What does all this mean to you? This life you have carved, sculptured..
T: Hm..well. it changes what it means. I think's a really big test
to, I think, value your work as an artist and not be drawn into everybody's
opinion of your work and then everybody's opinion of your work um..being an
opinion of me as a person. I know that the work and I are very intrisic.
Because.. it's not a job, it's really not. Doing press sometimes is a job,
it can be ..sometimes. It depends on the agenda of the person walking into
the room.
C: You mean the artist or the person who's writing the criticism or the
person who's writing about the artist?
T: he person writing about the artist. Let's face it, sometimes you have a
few good chats with people, and sometimes they've already written a story
before they walk in the room. And, I'm going, you know, why are we wasting
time here? I'd much rather go see one of my friend's cartoon exhibits down
the street than be a part of something that's already been decided. So, I
think for me it's changed, what I thought I wanted to sculpt, and what was
important to me. It's changed over the years.
C: Where is it now?
T: Um.. a sense of humor is very important um..I love chasing the dark, I
have for a while.
C: Looking for what, chasing the dark?
T: Looking, most of our politicians will be there.
C: You, finally, make love to a piano.
T: Of course. What else are you gonna do with a piano? It's nine feet.

C: So.. what's going through your head and the rest of you when
you're at the piano?
T: Well, see. When music comes through you, if you're lucky, and the stars
are aligned that day, then you found the plug in to the 220 voltage, and
you're there, and it rolls through you like an elixir. And, I've had
different elixirs over the years, and there isn't anything that um..really
um..takes hold um..demands and yet includes me all at the same time.
Religion never did that. It's very much a subservient thing, whereas this
is very much a co-creating thing, and stand by and watch the muse
operate through you.
C: Thank you for being here.
T: Thanks.

Comments On The Show

From Becky Wall

From Kay-Tee

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