The World Cafe
Tori appeared on the radio show The World Cafe on Friday, November 9, 2001. The show was taped sometime on or around October 13, 2001 when she was in Philadelphia for her StrangeLittleTour. The World Cafe is distributed to many radio stations in the U.S. by Public Radio International. The radio show is based in Philadelphia, PA on radio station WXPN 88.5. Tori performed 4 songs live, they played '97 Bonnie & Clyde from the album, and there were several interesting interview segments. Below you will find a FULL TRANSCRIPT of the interview that was composed by Toriphile Ellen, as well as a summary of what happened and the list of songs Tori played. (Thank you so much Amanda (Novinha) for taping this for me!)
Tori played Purple People, Rattlesnakes, I Don't Like Mondays, and Twinkle live on the piano. (She normally uses the Rhodes with Rattlesnakes and I Don't Like Mondays, so this was very interesting!
World Cafe Transcript
Special thanks to Ellen for all the time she spent transcribing this interview for us!
pre-note: they played "precious things" earlier that morning & also chose UTP for the 12noon long play, in which they played 1/2 hour of her album from PGY through CG - sadly they cut PTM in the middle for a brief break in the program.
DAVID: welcome. it's time for another world cafe. i'm david d. and today we have a visit from tori amos live from I. studios with her bosendorfer piano. the occasion is the release of her new album SLG, an album of songs from a wide variety of male song writers. SLG recasts the songs in tori's voice and reinterprets them from a female perspective. authors range from eminem to neil young. the title track is actually an old stranglers song. tori's carreer has sky-rocketed since the release of LE back in 1991 & her audence has always been there for whatever turn tori's musical quest may take. today, tori amos will perform and talk about the girls, as she refers to the song. its always lively and thought provoking with tori amos in the house coming up on the world cafe.
(breaks and plays elton john, then ryan adams, then sting)
david - welcome tori amos back to the world cafe. the event is out 10th anniversary. tori i dont know if you knew this but you were on origionally in 1992 in our 2nd year and its so wonderful to see the arch of your carreer and personal growth and wonderful things happening with you and we're so happy to welcome her back. she's just released her 6th album. we will talk about many strange little girls today. please welcome tori amos to the world cafe.
(tori plays "purple people")
david - tori amos playing live for us today on the world cafe & tori, i was thinking back to that first time when you were on the show; you climbed up our stairs to the 3rd floor . you had a rented electronic keyboard of some- it was tetering on a stand and you talked about your bosendorfer piano at that point and today we have you on that piano which is so great.
tori - well this is a stolen bosendorfer
david - oh. not yours?
tori - i stole this- where did i steal this from? somewhere over the um water. i just um kind of liked it and put in the trunk.
david - (chuckles)
tori - but i um i've brought um
david - now everyone knows
tori- yeah they all know - but the thing is i've bought two - big big big mamas - 9 foot one. this is a little baby. you know it can almost fit in your purse.
i dont- but i dont believe in taking things as you know. its just sort of a wine tasting. this is like a half-glass , a taste of a something 'cuz i got the big ones but she really, um - the good thing is that she can fit into small spaces & um & i think bosendorfer is the greatest piano in the world, as you all know.
d- you're doing this uh tour solo, which is a move back to what you've done for SO many years. do the songs themeselves change when you do them in a solo situation or with a band?
t- of course, yeah, its a very different skill this is what i found working with other musicicans...live. working with them in the studio is different again, but when its a live performance you have to have a conversation as - with your instrument and with their instrument, and you have to know how to contain and not, you know, need push them out of the way and get in their way. its always tricky piano player and bass players b/c you dont want to step on their toes- they dont want *you* to step on their toes (laughs) so thats tricky and of course when you are alone then if you are too sparse people dont think its - oh that's a choice anymore. she just can't fill the space. so.
d- this album - the first things we heard was , tori has an album of covers and then we understood much more about this album SLG these are songs written by men. you always refer to your songs as girls. these are people you meet, the songs are things you meet.
d- do you meet these people individually or did you come up with the concept to begin with?
t- well, it's hard to know now that i look back exactly how everything showed itself bc the one thing that did become clear is that if i were going to do songs by men written by men and if i were going to hold onto this premise that i really like , which was how men say thing and what a women hears then i kinda went "uh-oh- i need to get like a laboratory of men as my research group b/c i am getting in over my head real quick" and the reason i realize this is b/c husband, we were having a little - i thought we had a really nice afternoon & i said its such a good afternoon, i just want to play something that, you know, kinda stays with the mood. and he says, what are you going to play? and i say, Miles Davis, "stetches of spain" . and he goes - oh taz, get that crap off the cd player. and you know - husband is a bit difficult to deal with (laughter) but anyway the thing is , the song that he thought talked about our day - i just had to cok my head and say we see this VERY differently, our romantic day. and i started to realize , i had to go to the men to see what songs resonated with them, not the one i thought made sense would.
d- what was the romantic song that he picked?
t- something by the clash
d- it gave him that feeling, huh?
t- that and a cup of tea.
d- do you remember the first one you came up with b/c you've done - you've always done covers. your b-side have always been other people's songs.
t- yeah weddings and funerals is where i got my start b/c i think dad, you know, could get me cheaper than the organist. so i think i could do it for 5 about 5 - and he had to pay about 25 for the organist. so i did weddings and funerals for him - my dad's a minister, so.
d- and you probably took request from- well not the funerals, but, uh-
t- well from their families,i mean the one thing is as i've always said, you didn't have to play "we've only just begun" at the funerals which is kinda a nice break b/c you were playing that at the weddings at that time it was "evergreen" you know..."we've only just begun" all that.
d- well, you do a song by one of my favorite male writers Lloyd Cole. you do rattlesnakes, which goes way back to the beginning of his carreer. di dyou know that song then or did it-
t- no i knew of Lloyd cole just being in LA with you know, listening to rodney on the rock. rodney would always expose musicians to us living there and i foudn that this was one of the real favs- of the laboratory of me, they really loved Lloyd Cole ; he kept coming up and i really didnt - couldn't see how i was going to do it. until one day, i wandered into the studio before they were ready for me- which i highly recommend. it's a really good thing to do b/c they had a crazy thing on the Rhodes- some effect and i sat down at it and i immediately-i hadn't eve thought of the song in weeks an dit was clear that the music dictated that i had to do this song, an di think i tracked it that afternoon and that was it.
d- what about the character in the song?
t- she came slowly. she was one of those ones that i had to-she's hard to get to know and she developed over quite afew weeks of just sitting with the song, listening back in the studio, getting pictures and images of, you know , who she was. i would listen to that voice coming through-cuz i dont see it as mine a lot of the time. you just kind of dont. and so she started to show me who she was.
d- well did your laboratory ever include any of the writers themselves talking-
t- oh-no-no-no-no-no. no, they are the mothers of the songs and i really like that idea , a place where the - i guess this is my mother record- a place where the men were the mothers. and i've always respected that there are some things you only tell your mother and there are some things you *never* tell your mother. and i worked off that premise with this record. and with my own songs, the truth is , i mean really, i dont know where my songs are half the time until they show up at th show.
d- so you're going to do rattlesnakes
d- solo version
t- i dont have the rhodes today so this is a different arrangement for the piano.
( plays rattlesnakes)
D- That's "rattlesnakes". That's one you'll find on SLG. tori amos with us today on the cafe. Y'know i just noticed, of course, the lyrics of that. there's a gun in that song, "happiness is a warm gun", "i dont like mondays" is on here, the "bonnie & clyde" song from eminem has violence within it. men. violence. this is a theme that seems to be running through this. is that something you wanted to illuminate is some fashion?
T- well y'know. i was putting together what i felt was...myth of our time and unfortunately, they are violent times. so whther songs were 30 years old or a few years old. "me & a gun" sort of - a song that i wrote on LE - kinda took me down a road with gun imagery and that has been something that i've been kinda working through as a writer how it plays its hand out.
D- the eminem song, " '97 bonnie & clyde" is an incredibly powerful song in any form, but the way that you do it totally brings the song up. how is it for you to wrap yourself around the song? and i understand its the perspective of- we should explain the song for people who haven't heard it. this is a song about a guy who murders his wife and steals his daughter. y'know , very blunt terms and its the woman's whose perspective- the woman who is no longer with us- is the perspective you take.
T- yeah. the thing that really became clear tome was that when we would talk about this song with the panel in discussion , the thing that really struck me was that not one of them- whatever the guys felt about this-some did not want to be a part of it, some did, some had empathy for his character, some didnt. y'know, the whole gammit was there but the one thing that was consistent was that not one of 'em- and these are men that had all sorts of things to say about it- never wanted to know about her. she had been faceless. she wasnt resonating . she was just in the trunk and on the other hand, his character, for some, was very charming, and hsi version is done- he acheives what he wanted to achieve and its a very powerful work. but it was immediate when i heard this song, this hand reached out of the trunk and said, you know, i think you need to hear this as i was hearing it. it's a little different.
D- shall we hear it. we'll play it from the disc.
T- yeah from the disc
(plays "'97 bonnie & clyde")
D- that was '97 bonnie & clyde, that's the version from SLG & tori amos is here with us today & we'll be back in a moment on the world cafe
D- talking with tori amos today on the world cafe. speaking of guns and violence, you do change - you dont always change gender in the songs, do you? but you do on "i dont like mondays"
T- "i dont like mondays". after the shootings happened again in san diego, this past spring , one of the men called me up and said, "y'know you have to do 'i dont like mondays' " . i said, "yeah, i get that". and he said, "um, how are you going to do it". and i said, "well, i need a minute. let me think about it". and as i started to listen to it i i knew that a woman-b/c originally the song was written by bob geldolf as a commentary based on the fact that a young woman had gone and shot people b/c when they asked her, her quote was ,"well b/c i dont like mondays". he kinda took that quote and made a song. so i fet that the woman that was singing this also had to "shoot the whole day down", but i was not able- and didnt want to- um, personify this - a person who had just gone in and shot all their friends...or classmates, who arent friends-whaterver they are. i didnt feel like i wanted to do that. so this character came first in this one and she was the cop, the texas cop that- we set it in texas mainly if feel that, y'know, a lot of the gun culture is strong there, and so we set our song in texas and she went and had to go kill the kid that killed everyone that day & she's having a difficult time with it.
D- "i dont like mondays"
(tori plays 'i dont like mondays")
D- tori amos live today on TWC. (sigh) you did a feature for one of our favorite music magazines, MOJO, the british magazine , where they ask people what album changed their life and you said LED ZEP II. explain how that album came into your life and how it changed it.
T- a friend brought it over b/c her big sis had it & uh we kinda huddled together around the st-y'know it was one of those stereos that was in the cabinet- y'know- what do you call it , Joel?
D- a credenza maybe?
T- yeah . it was a console & you lift the lid and you put it in- very ritualistic & you close & we just stood there. and we couldnt move - the two of us, it was just y'know....heat & sweats & oh my heavens - and i finally understood what all those men in the church were going on about. why they didnt want my older sister listening to this- that y'know, it was the devil and all that and that's why it was y'know "led zeplin" we dont condone this and badadadadada & i was going "oh who cares, nananana, oh whatever" and then i went- AH! now i KNOW! of course, they dont!
D- did your parents get wind of you listeing to that?
T- no-no. (laughter) you see this is teh thing about having older siblings. my brother, who was ten years older, he was the one who took it the hardest from all this kind of victorian and prepressed whatever it was and then i watched how he dealt with it , which unfortunately, wasnt very coniving and then my sister, she just went into chemistry and became like a brain and listened to the beach boys, y'know, nothing that would rock the boat. and so michael would find - my brother- would find ways to sneak in the records with loads of people would come in from the church groups and stuff and he would just- there would be distraction tactics and when my father was out at the church , you see i would come in and listen to the music and i 'd sneak it back to michael and get it out again. so we had a real system going. i kept it under my - y'know "cinderelly, cinderelly-
T..."cinderelly, cinderelly, do the dishes, do the washy" i had that one and we had -of course, my dad's favorite song was "dominque-a-nika-niaka". he liked that one.
D- yeah she was big. see now, personal stereos- you get away with anything now . a little walkman.
T- yeah that is the thing
D- you dont have to worry about it- you dont have to carry the console up to your room. i want to talk a little bit more about motherhood. this whole project you say y'know the writers as mothers of the songs, well clearly you've had a little more empathy for this role lately and how has this affected how you view this whole thing?
T- probably in ways i dont even know yet. i mean, my mother always loves walking in and going " just you wait", which i guess is kind of fair but when i was nursing Natashy the thing that kept getting asked from my male friends was 'whats it like to be host organism? whats it like to be a house on heals?' and so i would say, wow- i didnt expect you guys to come up with that one and i'm not being y'know, i love my male friends and they just really wanted to talk about it and they-in-by talking about it they were really acknowledging the power of what its like to be-to carry life, instead of, in some cultures, women are shamed for doing it and they dont even have human rights. practically until they y'know bring people's sorry ass into the world & y'know then they let them give birth but then they have no human rights again. so its one of those things where i was kinda- i had this warm feeling inside when the men were asking. i said, wouldnt it be great if there was a place where the men could be the physical mothers cuz i think it would really change things and i think some of them would be great-really great mothers. if they could put down the stoley and the rolled up cigarettes y'know for 9 months which i dont know if some of them could , but certainly not my crew. certainly not husband. so anyway- that was teh nice thought that i had for making this record, being a human mommy and a song mommy are very similar; that's what i think.
D- and so the men could have that role
D- interesting. tori what do you want to finish with
T- oh right. this is a little song i havent played live yet on this tour and she (cut off-but made a similar comment like- and she wants to come out now and play)
D- Twinkle finishing our set from tori amos today live from I. studios today and tori thanks for being here
T- thanks . thanks everybody
D- and thanks to our live audience
World Cafe Summary
Written by Mikewhy.
Tori first played "Purple People" live.
She then talked about the piano she was playing in the studio, which was a smaller Bosey that she jokingly said she had "stolen." She said you could almost fit the smaller Bosey in your purse, while the other two that she bought were 9 feet long.
Tori discussed the difference between playing with a band and playing solo on stage.
She then talked about the album Strange Little Girls, and how the record dealt with how men say things, and what a women hears. She had to gather a group of men into a "laboratory" in order to make sure she chose songs that mean something to men and not just herself. One of the things that got her thinking about this project was a romantic day with her husband, when she thought that Miles Davis would be the perfect musical accompaniment to the day, while Mark thought it would be something by the Clash.
Tori mentioned that the first time she did covers was when she was playing "weddings and funerals" in church as a girl, because she was cheaper to hire than the organist.
Tori called men who wrote the songs on Strange Little Girls "the mothers" of the songs. She did not consult with these original writers of the song. "There are some things you only tell your mother and other things you never tell your mother."
Tori then played "Rattlesnakes" live, using her piano. Since she normally plays this song live on both the Bosey AND the rhodes, this was a different arrangement. It sounded really wonderful played solely on the Bosey.
Tori addressed the concept of violence, which pervades several songs on the new album. She wanted the record to reflect the "myth of our time," and we are currently in violent times. She said she started to work with gun imagery way back with "Me and a Gun".
Tori then talked about '97 Bonnie and Clyde. She said that when she was talking to various men about the song, not a single person wanted to know anything about the woman in the trunk. So she decided to sing the song from her point of view. They then played '97 Bonnie & Clyde from the album.
Tori gave some insightful comments on the song "I Don't Like Mondays" and the approach she took when recording the song. The woman doing the killing is female in the song, but Tori took the point of view of a female Texas Ranger, who had to go in and kill the kid doing the shooting, and who found it to be difficult. For me, this really revealed a lot about the way Tori sings the song. I have seen more than one critic who complained that the song is too soft and inappropriately done because they think Tori is the voice of the girl doing the killing. Once you know she is the voice of the Texas ranger who reluctantly has to take the kid out, then the way she records it makes sense.
Tori then sang "I Don't Like Mondays" live on the Bosey. This song is normally played live on the Rhodes, and I was amazed at how good it sounded on the piano. In some ways, this song seemed to come more alive on the piano.
Tori then talked about the Led Zeppelin 2 album changing her life, and how her brother Michael had to smuggle the album in so she could hear it without her parents finding out.
Tori then discussed motherhood, and how different men would be if they could carry a life inside them. She then mentioned that fact that in some places in the world, the power of women to carry life is not honored and they have no human rights.
Tori finished the show by performing "Twinkle" live.
Please give me feedback, comments, or suggestions about A Dent In The Tori Amos Net Universe. Email me (Mikewhy) at email@example.com