Bojan and Natasa, the authors of the article, sent me a transcription and asked that I place it on The Dent. This article comes from a magazine named X-it, which is published by the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia & Montenegro.
TORI AMOS: SOULQUAKES IN A GLASSWORLD
"Oh, these little earthquakes
here we go again
Oh, these little earthquakes
It doesn't take much to rip us into pieces"
Although Tori's life has been full of earthquakes that have many times come close to ripping her into pieces, she always managed to take control over them and use them as an inspiration for her beautiful music.
Tori Amos was born as Myra Ellen Amos under the sign of Leo 39 years ago. She was only 2,5 when her incredible talent started to show. She started playing the piano by imitating what her brother and sister would play, and very soon she could play any piece of music by ear after hearing it only once. At the age of 5 she was the youngest student The Peabody Conservatory of Music had ever accepted, since she was considered to be a child prodigy. Even at such an early age Tori, who was already rebellious, refused to compromise, and used much more creative force than her teachers at the Conservatory were ready to accept, so they kicked her out when she was only 10.
Even though she was that young she did not surrender to the system, and at the age of 13 she decided to become a rock-star. She started playing in gay bars with her father, changed her name to Tori, recorded a pop-flavoured demo, and later headed to Los Angeles where another earthquake was waiting for her. After offering a ride home to a fan, in turn he raped and threatened to kill her. Tori tried to move on by recording her debut album called "Y Kant Tori Read" which turned out to be a complete disaster. Luckily, her record company decided to give her another chance. She moved to London and started working on "Little Earthquakes". One of the most important songs on the album is "Me and a Gun" in which she recalls the horror she experienced the night she was raped.
"...It was me and a gun and a man on my back
and I sang "Holy, Holy" as he buttoned down his pants
You can laugh, it's kind of funny
the things you think in times like these
- like: "I haven't seen Barbados, so I must get out of this!"
Yes, I wore a slinky red thing,
Does it mean I should spread for you, your friend, your father, Mr. Ed...?"
The song later became the inspiration for the foundation of RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network), a non-profitable organization that puts sexual victims in touch with a local Rape Crisis Center
Her next album "Under the Pink" was released in 1994 and even to this day it continues to puzzle even her biggest fans because it deals with a lot of issues starting from religion, to friendship, love, anger, and rivalry among women. Tori's music and lyrics on this album sound as if they had emerged from some bizarre and obscure world of her nightmares.
"So, I want to kill this waitress
She's worked here a year longer than I
If I did it fast, you know, that's an act of kindness...
But, I believe in peace!
I believe in peace, Bitch!..."
Soon afterwards Tori broke up with her boyfriend and co-producer, and realized that all the men in her life could appreciate and cherish either her creativity and artwork or her femininity. She had a feeling that she had never been accepted as a complete being. Angry for always being misunderstood by men and annoyed by the jealousy which rules their world, she decided to "steal the fire from the men in her life". That resulted in the "Boys for Pele" album which is more like a novel consisting of 12 chapters, each dealing with different themes which are all united by Pele, the Fire Goddess.
After "The Pele Tour" Tori discovered that she was pregnant, but soon another earthquake came along. She miscarried. This was maybe the toughest blow she had ever received. Her inner world almost crumbled and for a long time she was numb, unable to go back to the person she was before the baby, but denied of the right to be a mother. Her next album "From the Choirgirl Hotel" was an attempt to reconnect to the life force not only of the child, but also her own. She starts off by showing us her vulnerability:
["She's addicted to nicotine patches
She's afraid of the light in the dark...
She's convinced she could hold back a glacier
but she couldn't keep Baby alive..."]
She continues with the almost hysterical "Raspberry Swirl" and "She's Your Cocaine", the pessimistically prophetic "Iieee" and ends with "Playboy Mommy" - a song about a woman who lost her child. But, the most important moment is when in an insecure (as if she herself is having a hard time realizing it), yet hopeful voice at the end of "Hotel" she repeats: "I'm still alive...", which seems to be the main idea of the album.
After that she released a double CD; one of the two was the recording of her playing live during "The Plugged Tour" and the other - a new material. Although this album is much brighter than the previous ones, and the style was somewhat changed, she kept true to herself regarding her honesty and the connection to the femininity inside her, which is visible in the very title of the album - "To Venus and Back".
The fans were eager to hear the "Strange Little Girls" album, but were also somewhat afraid because of the fact that for the first time Tori decided not to use her own music and lyrics but to do covers. The album was released in September, 2001 and it showed that Tori is able to do wonders even with the songs which are not her own. "Strange Little Girls" consists of 12 songs written by men for or about women. Tori converted the songs by changing the point of view from the men's to the women's. Each song is represented by a photo and a story about the girl in question - a showgirl, a sheriff, a murdered wife whose husband is taking her to bury her, her grown up daughter afraid of the world.... She even dared to cover a male chauvinist's (Eminem's) "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" for the sake of womanhood.
Her latest record "Scarlet's Walk" was released in the fall of 2002, and was named after Scarlet - Tori's alter ego, a girl who unites all the songs. Perhaps the best explanation of this album is a description from Tori's official website:
"The CD's about America - it's a story that's also a journey, that begins in L.A. and crosses the country, slowly heading East. America's in there, and specific places and things, Native American history and pornography and a girl on a plane who'll never get to New York, and Oliver Stone and Andrew Jackson and madness and a whole lot more. Not to mention a girl named Scarlet who may be the land, and may be a person, and may be a trail of blood."
After all she has been through, Tori Amos seems to have finally found her peace of mind (she has a husband and a daughter- Natashya), and the only question is how it will affect her work.
Could it be possible that there are no more earthquakes for Tori? Even if so, we believe that she will never run out of inspiration. But, even if she never made another song again, the inner world which she has already shown and offered us would be deep and complex enough to keep us fascinated for a lifetime!
"...Baker, baker, baking a cake
make me a day, make me whole again
And I wonder what's in a day,
what's in your cake this time?..."
By BOJAN STEVIN and NATASA MILUTINOV