Tori article/interview in Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad
A Tori article/interview appeared in the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad on January 17, 2003. I have the text of the article below sent to me by Jan Hofman, who kindly translated it from Dutch to English.
Singer tells the true American history
Tori Amos: warrior on the way to peace
By Jeannette Rotteveel
America is a burnt-out porn star, thinks singer Tori Amos. Her latest CD Scarlet's Walk - a journey through the bloody American history - is a tribute to the range of thoughts of the Indians. Monday she'll be doing a concert in Ahoy.
Tori Amos: "With this album, I ask for the care of our mother: the earth"
The visitors to Tori Amos' concert on Monday night in the Rotterdam Ahoy will not hear Scarlet's, but Tori's story. Although all songs of her latest album Scarlet's Walk build one epical story, Amos will not sing them in that order. "If I'm on tour, I tell my story. So it's not Scarlet's journey. I put together my concert based on how I feel that night."
Welcome to world of the belligerent Tori Amos where manipulations and generalizations are banned. Furious she'll be, when you put her in a certain corner. Scarlet's walk, with which Amos wants to treasure and tell the story of her homeland, is soaked with Indian influences. But don't tell her that she adheres to shamanism, the religion of the Indians. "In interviews with journalists they want to manipulate me by telling I'm completely possessed by shamanism"
They try to generalize my spirituality. Don't manipulate me! It's time America learns to teach her history better. That's what I do with my album."
Her interest in Indian culture and European colonists can partially be carried back to her own roots. Amos was born in Newton, North Carolina, where her father is a protestant minister. Her ancestors were partial from Scottish and partial from Indian origin.
Amos thinks it's terrible that the history of America is not being taught during history class. "We know more about the European mythology than about our own. We conceal it. The forefathers of Europe settled down in America, but ignored the culture of the original inhabitants. Europe came and took over. In the end your ancestor is a part of America. We all are connected to each other."
Scarlet's Walk is an imaginary travelling story through the America of the Indians, the European forefathers and the current America. Main character is Scarlet, the only woman of flesh and blood on the album. All other persons are personifications of certain aspects of American culture. Scarlet means 'scarlet red' and originally is a red fabric. She is the central theme about a tour through America.
Motive for the journey of Scarlet is a visit to her friend Amber Waves, a burnt-out porn star who according to Amos symbolizes 'the big America', the superficial image of the so-called perfect nation.
It not just a theme, Amos sets her stakes high. She doesn't want to tell the Americans a lesson. But she does want to tell a story and ask questions about a history that America has kept silent so far.
These kinds of big social themes are not new to Amos. In the past she sang about rape, miscarriages, sexuality and religion. The cd Little Earthquakes, with which she broke through in 1992, was full of heavy themes like getting over a guilt complex, the breaking down of relationships and a rape. The same themes got a chance in the successful successors Under the Pink and Boys for Pele. In From the Choirgirl Hotel she deals with her three miscarriages with the sentence 'You couldn't keep babies alive'.
For 15 years, Amos had the idea of Scarlet's Walk in her head. Only after the attacks of September 11 she could give it a shape. "I saw on the day of the disaster in New York, where I was myself, a change in how Americans look at their country. People felt connected to each other and to their country in a way that I'd never seen before." The baby that's born at the end of Scarlet's Walk, is not a symbol for hope, but an appeal to the listener to take good care of the planet. "In the song the mother figure has to mother her motherland"
Because she carries the responsibility for the future of her child, it is important that she cares for the future of her country."
This theme was passed to Amos by an Indian woman. She said to me: "The people have torn the country and manage it now. The white brother should come together to help the country survive. It is our responsibility to talk about it like sisters." That conversation was a crucial moment in my life. I knew what I had to do."
Amos calls herself a warrior on the way to peace. "If your daughter is being raped and you stay seated on the couch because you're a pacifist, you're not a good mother, because you have not protected your child. With this album I ask for the care for our mother: the earth. That Indian woman told me finally: 'It is time for our white brother to come and take more of us'. I said that he already took so much. And she looked at me in a mournful way and said: 'Sad enough he only takes the country'."