Article About Tori In Music Monitor
Added April 25, 1998
Toriphile Ally made me aware of an article that appears on the web site of Music Monitor, a magazine in the U.S. The article is called "You Love Her Or You Hate Her: Two Takes On Tori." I have no idea when this article was first published in the magazine, though it had to be 1996 or 1997. I have placed this article in the April 1996 section, but that is just a guess and is likely wrong. If anyone knows when this article was first published, please let me know.
by Ying and Yang, with introduction by Carrie Colliton
When I saw the amazing number of diverse responses to a TV poll on whether Michael Bolton should cut his hair I realized there are some artists who generate absolutely polar opposite, fairly violent responses in people. What artists fall into this category? Bob Dylan, probably. Michael Jackson, most likely. Hootie and the Blowfish, to a certain extent. And Tori Amos. Ever since the first Tori album (well, first besides the metal mama Tori fiasco, which she hopes to her Goddess we'll never see), I've noticed that very few people who know anything about her don't have a hard and fast opinion for or against. I've seen strong, intelligent, self-assured men and women reduced to tears when reading the lyrics to one of her songs. And I've seen equally rational humans hurdle chairs and tables in a rush to whip down the volume knob at the first hint of a Tori key stroke. This is fascinating to me. So I invited two people with differing views on Tori to get it off their chest. Two things to remember: 1) These are their opinions and I'm sure you have your own. Please don't hold anything against them for speaking out. 2) They're not using their names because, given the ferocity of Tori fans' emotions, the person speaking against Tori's greatness thinks that some will ignore what I have just said, take it personally and search her out [We will tell you who she is if you give us enough money--Ed.].
In case you were wondering, the majority of respondents told Michael Bolton to cut that shaggy thing off.
I have a confession to make. I first embraced Tori because she sounded like Kate Bush. OK, OK, I know this isn't the most acceptable reason to have become a fan, but it's the truth of how I discovered her. Of course, I grew to love her for her, but I admit it was after the initial "Kate" glamour fell away.
Anyway, one afternoon, after having listened to Little Earthquakes for several weeks without really hearing what the lady was saying, the words to "Crucify" started running through my mind. I scrambled to understand the full meaning behind the song, and ended up reading the entire lyric book and relistening to the disc. Her words catalyzed something, making connections that would pop up as "Eureka!" moments of insight. I was hooked; the woman made me think!
Tori has a gift for reaching into her subconscious to pull out uncensored "first thoughts" and channels all these multi-layered word images into her song lyrics. Because her references are very personal, there's a mystery and obscurity, even though she's laying herself bare, and so I'm forced to fill in the missing puzzle pieces with my own meaning. This processing is what makes a Tori release so personal to anyone who truly listens to it. Tori gets naked in her music, and when you embrace her words, you join her in this dance of intimacy. Her themes are universal: victimization, finding your own voice, relationships with the masculine and the feminine. She gives full expression to her emotions when she performs. You can see the song possess her on every level as she vocally inflects, speaks and moans her words, in the way she touches the piano, now delicately caressing it, now passionately pounding the keys. Unable to sit still on the bench, her body obeys the rhythm and heat, writhing provocatively, making love to the instrument and the audience, each song a catharsis.
And speaking of the instrument, it's unbelievable what she can do with a set of keys. Great female piano players aren't something you run across every day, and Tori is simply amazing. She can play virtually anything by ear, a talent for which I have a great deal of respect. She also takes risks and eperiments musically. I admire her courage in her songwriting, in her willingness to come forward about her rape, and about her spirituality. It isn't easy to walk away from the religious ideas you've grown up with, especially when crystal-utilizing seekers of the Holy Feminine who believe in fairies aren't highly regarded by a large part of the populace. Still, she's unafraid of discussing her beliefs or answering eyebrow raising sexual questions. She's personable in her interviews; interesting and interested in her fans (she used to meet them backstage after shows). But don't write off her marketing savvy. She's mastered the ability to sell CD singles, and though she opens herself up, she retains a veil of mystery that keeps fans wanting more.
Tori Amos is a beautiful, intelligent, courageous, poetic and creative woman, who isn't afraid of expressing the Divine Feminine, with all of its passion and power, in her life. I like that. I think if I met her, I'd like her. She makes me laugh, makes me think, makes me dance and sparks my own creativity. She helps me to learn about the deeper, darker recesses of my mind by saying, "Hello, it's OK to have those feelings. See? I have them, too. I've been there." Which makes me feel a little less alone in the world. I guess that's why I love Tori Amos. What's that old saying? "...not only for what (she is ), but for what I am when I am with (her)."
Tori Amos. Tori Aimless is more like it. As far as I'm concerned this artist totally misses the bullseye. Something about her makes my head want to spin. The strange thing is that I can't put my finger on what exactly it is about her that grates on my last nerve. I think it must be a combination of things. I mean, at first glance, I should really dig this person. She's a singer/songwriter. She plays the piano, an instrument that just doesn't get enough respect in today's music. And, she's a woman. All these things are cool in and of themselves but you roll them into Tori Amos and it's more than I can take!
Maybe it has something to do with the way she writhes around on that piano bench like she's got ants in her pants. Or those videos with her dancing around with snakes or rocking back and forth in the driver's seat of a stationary pick-up truck. What about those live television performances? She knows where the camera is every minute and she plays it for all it is worth.
Perhaps it's simply her voice. Vocals reminiscent of fingernails down a chalkboard that fill me with a desire to jettison her to the sun. And since I'm being petty...who dresses this woman? Did you see those pictures in Spin? I tell you what, if she has any hand in bringing back the tube top I may be forced to hunt her down!
I think the thing about Tori Amos that pushes me over the edge is that I just don't buy it. What is "it" exactly? You know, IT. The whole New Agey, woman finding her voice, in touch with myself thing. Maybe she really is genuine but I just don't get it. When I've seen her on television or in interviews she just seems so rehearsed and practiced. Almost like she's tried pushing every button until she's found exactly the right ones. Obviously she pushes my buttons and I don't even like the woman!
Oh, well. She's not for everyone. But, obvously, she serves some purpose. She's selling tons of records at breakneck speed. I think it's safe to say that the world will continue to spin on its axis whether I like Tori Amos or not and it's a lot less likely to tilt if Tori and I continue to exist in separate worlds.
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