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New York Times sponsored conversation between Tori & rock critic Ann Powers

Updated June 11, 2002

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On Saturday, January 12, 2002, the New York Times sponsored a conversation with Tori and Times rock critic Ann Powers in New York City. This event was originally scheduled for September 15, 2001, but was delayed because of the September 11 terrorists attacks. This was officially known as a New York Times "Critics Choice" Event. It took place roughly from 8:30 until 9:45PM at The Graduate Center, CUNY, at 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street.

This interview, part of the New York Times Critics Choice weekend, was taped and during the weekend of May 24-26, 2002, it was broadcast on local New York TV station CUNY-TV (Cable Channel 75, which is part of basic cable in all five boroughs of New York City). The show was called Tori Amos: A Conversation. The only negative thing about the broadcast was the fact that most of the question and answer session with the audience was not included.

Below you can find a transcript of Tori's interview with Ann Powers, photos from the event, and some accounts and comments on the event from Toriphiles who were there. Some of the photos were taken by Toriphile Jill C. Myers who was there and who took these unobstrusively without a flash. I have also added wonderful photos taken by Brad Walsh with his digital camera. The event that evening was basically a conversation between Tori and Ann with questions taken from the audience. Be careful what you read below or elsewhere about what Tori said about her next album during this event. Some people are erroneously claiming that she disclosed an actual date for her next album, with some people saying September. In actuality, Tori only said she was "pretty positive" she would have a new album and be touring again in September.

Many of the people there were told that in the near future there will be a a CD of some kind from this event that you can buy. We still have not heard of any details concerning that CD.

Photos From The Event

This first batch was taken by Jill C. Myers. Click any picture to see larger.

Click any picture to see larger.

These additional photos were taken by Brad Walsh. Click any picture to see larger.


Transcript of Tori's Interview

A HUGE thank you to Beth Winegarner for taking the time to type out this transcript for all of us!

This transcript includes the Tori interview that was broadcast on TV station CUNY. There were some parts of the interview that were not aired. Also, most of the question and answer session that Tori had with the audience was not broadcast as well.

Tori Amos interview with Ann Powers
January 12, 2002
Graduate Center, CUNY

Ann: People often ask me who's your favorite artist and that's a dumb question, you know, it changes day to day, but when people ask me if I could be an artist, I always say, Tori Amos, because I think that Tori more than any other popular artist of the tie, certainly more than any other pop musician, has succeeded in something I try to do in my own work which is combine something very personal with something that's beyond historical, that touched on every aspect of the culture, touches on mythology, touches on our social structure, society, the problems in society, but also the joys of growing up in America. You know, Tori often gets tagged with the title queen of the faery realm, but I think her work is very American as well. And it contains not only the mythical history of Tolkein or Lothlorien or all those magical lands, but also the history of rock and roll. The way that she has taken a childhood steeped in both Christianity and led zeppelin and made it into music that's feminist and beautiful and utterly contemporary is an ongoing inspiration to me. Not only that but the girl can really sing and play a piano.

(crowd cheers)

Ann: Guess you know these people

Tori: Yeah (to audience) how have you been?

(crowd cheers)

(Tori waves)

Ann: I was reading some web sites and I know that this is going to be shared with every Tori fan worldwide. In the best way, like description and reviews, not bootlegs or anything nasty like that. So, we were going to start by talking about what a song -- Bob Dylan calls himself a song and dance man. You used to work in piano bars. There's an aspect of what you do that's extremely sacred, but others find call it pop, call it just entertainment. What happened to your sense of your music after the events of September 11?

Tori: Well, I think that when the planes went in the building, anybody that's been invaded on a personal level knows what that feeling is. And those that don't know what that feeling is, felt it for the first time. There was a sense of invasion when people were coming to the shows afterwards that was pouring out from people. I think something was split open then, as we all know, that as writers you're able to tap into something on a mass conscious level that before you could only happen to with some that were willing, those who had taken a step on the path to say, okay, "I'm going to open this part of myself up. I want to know parts of myself that maybe I've put aside for a long time." There's always an arrogance that some people have that until they get cancer, or someone dies, or something like September 11 happens, that arrogance, there's no -- the wonderful thing about tragedies is it knocks the shit out of arrogance.

Ann: That's true. You were touring in a way that was extremely soul- opening. Something you'd done before. You alone, your piano. How would it have been different if you'd been with the band?

Tori: Well, we couldn't have half the conversation that I think we had the last few months. It seemed as if the people that were coming to the shows and the crew all of us together were trying to weave the songlines of the country. In our tiny little way. It's not as if other people weren't doing it in their way. But no different than the aborigines, when they would cross Australia. You know, when they would go across, the only way you could get fro one territory to another, you had to be able to know the song of that land. And with each night, people would be requesting songs and a lot of times we included them because they seemed to have a sense -- they lived there -- they seemed to have a sense of the songs that pull the threads from where we had just come and where we were going.

Ann: What were some examples of those songs? What were some that meant a lot to you at that time?

Tori: When we were in Philadelphia, somebody mentioned that I needed to open up to the Neil Young song Philadelphia, because I wasn't doing heart of gold. I couldn't really achieve that by myself at the piano. And when that was suggested by someone, I thought that AIDS being another place where people -- you're invaded by the blood. There were a lot of subtexts that started to happen, and that song really started to be a cornerstone of that night in Philadelphia. And Philadelphia was of course the middle sister between New York and Washington. She holds a very important place in this little mythic tale. Because a lot of times the middle sister doesn't get a whole lot of attention.

Ann: What about your own songs? Were there any that the meanings opened up on this tour that you hadn't expected?

Tori: It was different. It was different for me ever night, but I think with "Winter" when it was, "Things are gonna change so fast," there were certain nights that it was very hard not to feel the change that had happened to those present. New York City was challenging because number one it was very humbling, and number two, nobody wanted to see me break down. It's like, well look lady, you know?

Ann: You gotta carry us through this thing. I did read some commentary online about how people were relying on you really. That's a huge responsibility. Help me through this huge crisis. Do you feel that that's something artists -- that they should have that responsibility? Or do you feel like it's kind of a burden or?

Tori: I think different artists have different roles, no different than characters in books. I mean some of my contemporary females -- not mentioning any names -- but some of them you would go to if you wanted to be really saucy and do bad, bad things. (laughter) And I know some of these gals, and they will get you through that. Would I trust them with my husband? Absolutely not. (more laughter). Now, some of these gals, mentioning no names, they are not girls' girls. They just aren't. They sit there and go, "You're fat and pregnant. You're out of commission for 15 months. Congratulations." They don't mean to be mean. But they kind of are. But we love them. Some of them are great songwriters, and we go to them for that. But you don't really go to them to say, "My heart is torn open," and the heart is a bloody organ, and not everybody wants to sit there when you are not looking your best and not feeling your best and there's puke all over the floor, you know? And that place in the trenches is a very different place to hold for somebody. I find it quite beautiful because that's when you begin to really see what somebody's made up of. You get -- the mask is down, and you really start to see, wow, who is this person really, and what is their soul's destiny really. Not what their parents wanted them to be. Not what they hoped they would be 'cause it's kind of glamorous, but who are they really? And I think after certain events, those artists, I wanted to be out there. Some people didn't want to be out there. And if you don't want to be out there, you shouldn't be out there.

Ann: Very true.

Tori: Because it won't feel right; you won't hold a space for people.

Ann: Speaking of vomit and other exciting things, you have a baby now. Congratulations. (audience cheers) You've talked about it a lot in interviews. I'm wondering specifically: I don't want to say biology is destiny, but is there an effect on your writing now, or your music, particularly your composing, that comes from this experience?

Tori: I think because I had three miscarriages that I appreciate the sacredness of life. And before, I think when I was pregnant with the first one, I think I was calling Johnny and saying okay, you can book the tour three months after I've had the kid and I think I can do it. I was out of my mind, and I didn't realize, at the time, the gift, and I think those miscarriages broke me down. I wouldn't wish them on anybody and I'm not saying that if I had to do it over again I would choose to do it. I'm not saying that, but I'm saying it did happen. And I began to really see that becoming a mother isn't something you fit in between gigs. The gigs have to fit around being a mom, and that became my first commitment, trying to be a mother first, and a musician second -- and Mark gets this -- and a mother third. And you know that's just the way it is. And he doesn't mind. It's kind of sexy to him. It's like; you can't give the guy (unintelligible).

Ann: He benefits from you being a mom and all that.

Tori: And a musician!

Ann: That too. Is there any song of yours that Natashya likes particularly?

Tori: Well, when I was pregnant I would play for her a lot. I played a lot while she was here (points at torso).

Ann: Anything in particular?

Tori: Yeah. (laughter)

Ann: Want to share?

Tori: You're so funny. I can just see it now, I'm sure the little DATs are rolling. The thing is, anybody from Germany here? No, the thing is that I find with her is that when she's upset, she has her little song that I sing to her. And that has been the same from the beginning and she knows that song. And I do believe that children, when they say that, they do hear, and they do know. And she's heard it since she was in here. And she knows what that is. I think. I keep that between me and her. There are others though, when she was inside, that I would play hours a day. Mainly because it kept me sane, and I just felt like it was a way we could communicate.

Ann: They say it's good for math skills as well.

Tori: Well. Let's put it this way, I have three accountants, and I'm glad. I can't count worth shit. But the thing that's why you're a successful musician. You can have three accountants.

Ann: Let's talk a little about the compositional process. We were going to talk about that.

Tori: Okay.

Ann: Often-asked question: music first? Lyrics first?

Tori: Usually music first. Because the thing about it is, I think sometimes when you just walk up to her (begins playing on the piano), and you don't even really have to have a concrete thought happening. But she is subtext to my life anyway, and sometimes I just leave really crap recorders rolling, and I go back, I'll have conversations with people while this is going on.

Ann: One of those accountants, maybe?

Tori: Well.

Ann: That's not so inspirational

Tori: It's just, I think that sometimes when you free one side of your mind up and let the music come, it finds its own rhythm to your life.

Ann: Now how does that relate to the rhythm of the body? Now I'm thinking a lot of you pregnant playing so where -- the rhythm of your body -- the shape of your body -- physically, how did you work with the piano? Didn't it get in the way a little bit?

Tori: Well, you can do this (turns to the side).

Ann: These are the questions a male interviewer might not think to ask.

Tori: The thing is that I'm writing this new work that I've been writing for three years, and some of the work when I was pregnant is very different than the work that's coming now. And that's because you are in a different space. I mean, you're an ecosystem when you're pregnant.

Ann: That's true.

Tori: And that's a real -- I think being pregnant healed me physically in a lot of ways. Because whatever feelings of invasion I had, you want to talk about being invaded!

Ann: Occupied, colonized.

Tori: Come on! It's the biggest tapeworm you'll ever have.

Ann: Except that you don't lose weight when you're pregnant.

Tori: No. So the thing that I found was, in listening now to the tapes back, I can, yeah, you are a different person. You walk through a different world. Because of where you are.

Ann: So who did you meet in that world?

Tori: Pardon?

Ann: What interesting creatures did you meet in that world? Elves, trolls...

Tori: No, no. I know people think that I run into them a lot, but really (laughter)

Ann: Well, there is this Lothlorien reference in --

Tori: There is.

Ann: -- your daughter's name

Tori: There is. I wanted her to have a middle name. I wanted her to be able to go to a place that wouldn't change, knowing that everything changes, the world changes. But Lorien will be there. She can always go read it and find it.

Ann: Mmm. It's beautiful.

Tori: And so it was only in myth and stories can you kind of enter a space that can't be changed.

Ann: Right. So. This new work that you're writing, you say it's different. I remember reading an essay by Louise Erdritch -- she has many children -- about writing after having a child. It was interesting, because it was about interruption, and sort of about intense preoccupation in a different direction, and learning about how to work with this totally different sense of consciousness in a way, that really had to do with the very basic fact hat your time is not your own. Your focus is not your own, necessarily.

Tori: Yes, and I think there are sides of yourself you wouldn't want to admit to. At first there's the euphoria at first, especially if you haven't been able to have a child for a while and then this gift comes. But when your nipples are infected and you've been nursing 12 hours out of 24 for two months, and you've got the, my husband, what was he calling them? The milk nazis. You know? They come and they weigh the baby, and how much are you pumping, and da da da da, and at some point I walked into the doctor and said, "Take. Pain. Medication." They said, "No, no, no." I said "Yeah, yeah, yeah." You're a mess. And so you know, you're hurting and you have to get through it, but I don't think sometimes people talk to you about the feelings of, "I'm not feeling great as a mom today, I'm not feeling like I really want to do this anymore right now. Not for a couple days." But you can't do that. And so those kinds of things come up, but it's not always in the work where you talk about -- I don't know the song, but -- (sings and plays) "Oh, don't wanna milk today," you know. It doesn't have to come out like that. But that's not really any different than the gal that's 21 that doesn't feel like she's keeping up with everybody else in the class. I mean you go to some of these places with these ubermoms and they'll go, "My freezer's filled with my milk, how are you doing?" You know? And then they look at you and see what's in your freezer and I say, (unintelligible), Husband's British. So they just don't understand. It's crazy. It's not different from when you go into the rape abuse meetings. And it's: how many times you were raped? There's a hierarchy to the pain. And I didn't realize that until as good friend of mine -- she was a shrink and she was dealing with torture survivors. And she said, you know, it was the oddest thing, but in the end, you could see that people were kind of racking up how many times they had been tortured. And the sad thing is, unless somebody says it's enough, you've done though, it's enough, whatever you've been through, it's enough. You don't have to have --

Ann: Competition is a heavy element of our lives. Society, and I mean, I think it's also interesting how it might affect the artistic process, too. Do you now, do you worry about your output changing, do you find that "Oh now that I'm a mother I'm just so prolific," you have a lot of milk in your freezer? (laughs)

Tori: Well, I think there's always somewhere in you as a writer that you hope you have the clarity, you hope you know when you don't have it anymore. I mean I produce an artist called Tori Amos. When I have the producer hat on I say to her, "Sweetie, you don't have it yet. You gotta go work on this a while. I like #17, that's a good song, but the ones before, I don't know about." You have to -- there is a real, you have to be an editor in a way. If you think everything you do is crap, you're not objective. Because if you've gotten far enough, then everything you do can't be, really. If you don't have that, you need somebody to produce you. But if you think everything you do is great, you need a producer too. So you -- of course I have people around me that I -- I'm very selective about that, but there are people I let in on the process.

Ann: Obviously your husband is one.

Tori: Sometimes. I mean, you know what? He's sonically very clever and there is a time I let him in. There's no question. But he can be quite brutal.

Ann: He thinks he has the right, huh?

Tori: Well, he'd rather me hear it from him than the New York Times.

Ann: I know for myself as a writer, and my husband's also a writer, we edit each other a lot. There's a point where it's like, "Do not come near. This is a fragile thing. It's not quite ready for you." And then there's this point where it crosses over, and it's, "PLEASE COME NOW! HELP ME!" I don't know if that's how it works for you, or if you revise a lot?

Tori: Oh yeah.

Ann: Really? Leonard Cohen told me it took him 7 years to write one of the songs on his new record.

Tori: I believe it.

Ann: And it had four lines in it.

Tori: No, I believe it. I believe it because -- some babies are like whales. They take a while to come. What is that? Twenty-four months. Or elephants. That's a while. That's why, with the tapes, what I do is, I have this little thing that takes a no-brain person to work technically, because I don't want to have to ask my technical team all the time, hey could you mike me up and could you play it back, and (makes frustrated noise). That stifles you. You need your independence. And I hate being dependent in that way. 'Cause I can go off and listen by myself, and I can change the batteries myself, I am capable of that. I've collected maybe 15 cassettes back and front, and sometimes it's only 8 bars of something. So then you start compiling. That's the stage I'm in now. The songs, I've always seen, as essences. They exist in some way.

Ann: When you say that, do you mean your songs are essences, or you're working from a bank of essences?

Tori: Yes.

(crowd laughs)

Ann: I love that. "Do you want the lemon pie or the chocolate cake?" "Yes."

Tori: Well. Especially if I had an alternate stomach. I love that idea. Wouldn't that be great? And I could get it frequent flier and everything. It could sit right here (gestures next to her).

Ann: They always say when you're pregnant you're eating for two. Why can't we eat for two all the time?

Tori: I know.

Ann: What I'm wondering is -- I would love to see if you could show us a little something on the piano maybe connecting -- like, are there songs of yours that are connected? Is there a way one might be connected through an essence bank? I love this idea!

Tori: Well, I think what happens is that sometimes you -- I'm given just (plays intro to "Silent All These Years"). And that's all I'm given. That's all that haunts me for a while. And then I decide -- someone calls me on the phone and says, "You know, Al Stewart would really like you to write something." And I say, "Well, I've got this thing." (plays intro again). And then of course, that little (sings part of first line). I knew "My dog won't bite if you sit real still, the antichrist..." (hums rest of line) you see, this is where we get into grey areas. Because all of a sudden you pull back and say, "I don't think I'm going to give that one to Al." I really like him, but all of a sudden, you see, knowing him and adoring him, and kind of getting a sense of him pushed me in a direction with that work, but then it decided to take a turn and become something very, very different. And it lyrically didn't want to be from a man's perspective at all. What I guess I'm saying to you is the songs, I do think, know who they are. And I'm trying to translate this essence. And could it be translated some other way? Yeah, maybe, but I'm trying to -- I believe they exist before I bring them into this form. Just like maybe some writers think their characters do exist, but you find them.

Ann: Well, this leads us into the art of interpretation. Because in a sense, what you're saying is that you're an interpreter even in your own original work.

Tori: Yes. But I'm lucky I get the publishing.

Ann: I like that. Lots of people get the publishing of other people in the history of rock, but that's another story. But in the case of "Strange Little Girls," so those songs are walking around in the world --

Tori: Yes.

Ann: -- some of them have very strong identities --

Tori: mm.

Ann: -- some of them have been discussed ad nauseum in the press --

Tori: mm.

Ann: -- but not even that interested in talking about that particular one. As great as your version is. But I'm thinking of a song like "Rattlesnakes" for example --

Tori: Right.

Ann: -- which I love. I read that you weren't really that aware of it before.

Tori: mm-mm. (shakes head).

Ann: How does that song become your song? Or take your pick of a song from "Strange Little Girls."

Tori: Well. Can we do another one first and then we'll go to that one? You see, Husband was the one who dissuaded me from this project. (laughs) anyway. But you see, I'm sort of glad he did. Because when I was telling him what I wanted, to have a response that I thought needed to be made, and the best way to respond was to take the man's seed and say, "This is your seed, and this is what it sounds like when it's consummated here (points at throat), with the voice of a woman" -- when she's not the object, but the subject. And so I didn't have that all worked out though when I told Husband -- I wanted to have a response, I knew that much. And he kind of looked at me and said, "You know, Taz, I don't think you want to do that." And I said, "Why not?" I said, "I think I should." And he said, "I think you've gotta be careful." And I said, "Why is that?" and he said, "Because it could be crap." "Well, okay." And then he said, "I don't think you know what I'm really thinking." (audience laughs)

Ann: I hate it when they say that.

Tori: That's a big -- and I said "about what?" And he said, "Well, the songs that you think..." and "What song do you think I go listen to when I'm thinking about us?" and I told him what I thought, and he said he was going to listen to the Clash and I think that's a load of crap. But anyway, he was trying to make a point. And I said, "Okay, then I'm going to have a little laboratory of men and you'll be one of them." And he said, "Okay, I'll be one of many, but I only want to have a small part."

Ann: This is a great science fiction movie, by the way. "The laboratory of Tori."

Tori: When I discovered "Strange Little Girl," the song, what I really was drawn to was how, when I heard it, and I would watch the guys listen to it, the way their eyes would glaze over when they thought of her, you know, the waif kind of troubled gal, as we all know them. And you know they get a little misty. And for a minute -- I know those gals -- and I kind of thought, "How is she hearing this?"

Ann: You know, there are a lot of songs in rock and roll about that girl. There's "Angie" by the Rolling Stones --

Tori: I think Angie's going, "get this lecherous git away!"

Ann: -- especially if it was about Angie Bowie, because she was NOT an ethereal lady. "And She Was" by the talking heads. "She's floating away..." there are so many songs about "She disappeared..." "Ruby Tuesday," "She could never stay where she came from..." "There She Goes."

Tori: "She's in my freezer!" (mimes opening freezer door)

Ann: So anyway, "Strange Little Girl."

Tori: Well I kind of said, all right, what would she be thinking about, if she were the subject? And I've had so many women that it wasn't as if, "Maybe she'll stop by my house on the way home." When you hear that song it's sort of, "She'll come to me and I'll tell her where she's going." And so that's how the album started to take -- they're characters that exist here, whether it's the anima or whether they were the objects for the men, or in some cases the subject. I was fascinated by them. And in "Rattlesnakes," I loved the way that he was so aware of the pain that she was in, for her never-born child. And he was able to, I think, feel her in a way that sometimes that I haven't been able to feel her.

Ann: Mm. you think you could play a little bit of it?

Tori: Well, the thing about that one is, when it came, it came because this rhythm -- (begins playing intro to "Rattlesnakes")

Ann: It's kind of a lullaby, rocking rhythm.

Tori: Yeah, and it became the emotion of the rattlesnake, for me anyway, so when I was doing this I wasn't aware that "Rattlesnakes" was even gonna -- then I was, the mike was on, and I just remembered that (sings) "Jodie wears a hat although it hasn't rained - -" I didn't know the words. (vocalizes rest of line) and then it finally kind of became clear.


Ann: That's interesting. You can really feel that, and it's interesting how on the record some songs that you make so driving, like "Heart of Gold," which I'm not going to ask you to play. I mean, that you just took in a totally driving direction, a totally intense spy movie direction. With Neil, he's loping along (sings mockingly) "I wanna live..." (audience laughs) How did that happen?

Tori: Well, because whatever bollocks I said about that song, the thing that hits me now is that when I was hearing the guys talk about what a heart of gold was, it was always that thing about wanting women to understand their need to roam. And this is where -- maybe it's just the men that I've known, and some of them I really love, dearly, dearly. There was always that thing about, "Why isn't it enough that you roam with somebody?" I mean, do you really... is this never-fulfilling thing gonna stop? I mean I have this sweater I have called "the end." I wear it -- I want to wear it when -- isn't this the end of the book? Why can't we just be together? But the heart of gold definition from a lot of the men I was working with on this at the time was that she would understand that I love her, but I need to do whatever it is.

Ann: Like "Almost Famous," right? Like the movie, and then so the girl has to basically die, or almost die, and fortunately get saved by the geeky boy, which is the boy that we like better than the cocky rocker.

Tori: We love the geeky boys. I think that the version was the heart of gold's answer. Because you know, she's searching for something too, and I think she knows that she is the fantasy of the heart of gold. But that means, you know, will you put up with my bullshit? Which is a very difficult one because you know, there has to be a place, I think anyway, where -- and I have friends in my life that say to me "I just -- I like her, but you know..." And I'm going, "When do you get off that ride and say, 'I'm going to walk down the road with this gal?'"

Ann: It's a rock and roll thing, you know. It's very interesting -- the fetishization of adolescence -- possibility -- the good side of adolescence is the dreaminess, the sense of hope, the sense of anything could happen. You know, at 38, you're not an adolescent anymore.

Tori: Nope.

Ann: And I think a lot of men try to hang onto that, especially in the world of rock and roll.

Tori: Oh yeah.

Ann: And often they can, because there's always a younger girl out there.

Tori: That's very true. Are we going to talk about this now? Has our conversation led into this? Because this is a very -- I think the women here know that it's kind of a tricky thing where Sean Connery seems to be able in these movies, everybody will pay to go see him with whomever at 27, and then you know, what about some of these wonderful ladies of the theater? Would we, at 70, want to see them with Tom Cruise? Yeah! But he's not doing that, is he? I mean, because Georgia O'Keefe, you go, I would fall in love with her if I were a guy -- if she were around. Because she -- I was always loving her.

Ann: And she had a much younger lover at the end of her life.

Tori: Yes, she did.

Ann: But then the only movie we get like that is "Harold and Maude."

Tori: I know (laughs).

Ann: I mean, as cute as Bud Cort was back then, you know, it's like - - it's goofy.

Tori: But that's because, lines for men as they get older, it becomes very much a turn-on, but lines for women, as we age, has not been associated with "wisdom is sexy." And women that are running that side of the fashion or the music or whatever it is hasn't supported this either.

Ann: That's right. They get into the botox thing.

Tori: Yeah, well --

Ann: -- but it's what the industry demands. And how do you reconcile? I mean, you are you -- you're not a product. How do you deal with the productization? How you deal with that?

Tori: I think you have to know -- I think you have to kind of decide what kind of artist you want to be. And you make peace with that. And some people have become sex symbols in their careers, and that's a very different road to take than if you're talking about the heart. That doesn't mean I won't get my botox shots. I don't know what I'm going to do because that's between you and your dermatologist.

Ann: True enough, true enough.

Tori: But I think at a certain point you have to -- we all are getting older. Thank god. I'm really glad I'm getting older. I don't know what it's going to bring, but I don't think as a writer -- you can't write -- I mean, I can't write what I wrote when I wrote "Little Earthquakes" because I saw the world a certain way. And I hadn't found my voice. Maybe I lose it sometimes now, and I try and find it again, but you're in a different place.

Ann: You know, it's interesting, because when we were talking before, I said I would love for you to talk a little bit about how your writing process has changed through your career, but it'd be good to talk about what has stayed the same. And that's rarely talked about actually. Often artists are asked to say: how have you evolved? Like you're going from ape to man or whatever. But I wonder what -- you play some of your old songs, still, in concert. How do you choose which ones and are those ones you feel -- this one's still relevant; that one, who wrote that? Is it that kind of feeling?

Tori: No, I play a lot of them still because I think that it's odd, but I enjoy performing them now. I enjoy performing all of them more than I think I used to, because I'm not so close to them now. It's not as if I've just recorded them. I've been able to get to know them a little bit, and not MAKE them be something. If that makes any sense. (mocks a motivational type person) "You have to deliver that song!" So now it's kind of getting to know them a little bit, and with this last tour is very much about how the songs wanted to, I think, be there for everybody.

Ann: Because of what we were talking about before, the circumstances?

Tori: Yeah.

Ann: Can you give us a little taste of one of those?

Tori: I know everyone's trying to get me to play.

Ann: No, only me, only I am trying to get you to play.

Tori: Well, I mean the thing about -- I'll weave it in, I promise I will. But we were talking about... I will.

Ann: It's more fun to talk. But they probably think it's more fun if you play.

Tori: We'll weave something in, I promise. But the thing is, you were saying: things that have stayed the same. And I think that the songs when I was little used to be a place where I could go, because it was the one place where certain people in my life, mentioning no names, could not enter. And they could be sitting as close to me as you are. And they could be right there reading the paper, or reading the bible or whatever --

Ann: -- or writing a sermon --

Tori: -- mentioning no names. (grins) and then if I could create a world that had a structure, it was a place. Music -- I find all music has entry point. You know, there are windows. Some of them, they're easier to find their way into for me. Some are harder. But I really do believe that has never changed for me. That you are creating a landscape, a place.

Ann: A safe place?

Tori: Sometimes they're not all safe.

Ann: That's what's interesting. Just like the heart is bloody, right?

Tori: Yes.

Ann: I mean, I think a lot of your fans would agree that listening to your music creates a place that both feels like a shelter, and also demands a lot. Demands a lot emotionally, not to mention intellectually, figuring out those crazy lyrics you write, Tori! (laughs)

Tori: Well, also it's tricky, too, there's something I'm writing now that -- there was a confrontation that occurred when I was pregnant, and you see, I was listening back to it and I said ooh, that's pretty hard-hitting. If you knew anything about it, you'd know exactly what I'm talking about. And so then I kind of decided, well maybe I'm gonna change things a little. Well, then I listen back to that tape and it was just horrible. Chucked that one. Found this other one again by accident, I was looking for something else, and I heard to it again, and it's demanded that story be told. Because this place when I play it, it exists exactly as it did that day. Everything about it. And I know I was able to get out of it and I -- I'm okay, Tash is okay, but there was a moment where that was very questionable. And um....

Ann: Scary place.

Tori: It's a scary place. And so writing that one has -- I'm still writing, I haven't finished, because physically I go through that hyperventilating that was going on that day -- and I think music can do that to you.

Ann: Can take you back into some kind of physical state. Well, that makes sense, I mean music has been used in rituals throughout the history of time to create altered states, really, to create transcendence --

Tori: -- right --

Ann: -- or to put you back into something --

Tori: -- put you back. Yes.

Ann: That's not transcendence. Transcendence, I think, is sometimes very male, you say, "Oh we have to be lifted beyond, rather than getting into the muck of it," which is what you're trying to do.

Tori: Almost a transgression. I don't know what they call it in hypnotherapy, where they take you into that place of --

Ann: -- regression --

Tori: -- regression --

Ann: -- yeah. Yeah. That's -- so, what happens to that nice fella right there (points into crowd) when he listens to that song and he's in that place? Maybe we should ask him! No, but what, as a person who's creating art for public consumption, not just for you, in your room going back to that space, how do you make it work so another person goes somewhere?

Tori: Well, first of all I'm trying to be true to what the song is demanding and the song is coming out, yes, of a personal experience. But I think that she also -- I'm just finding my thread in it. I think a lot of people have had experiences when they were in utero that they have heard about or maybe they think, knowing their parents' situation, or some people who have been pregnant know that they have maybe been in a fight when they were pregnant and wonder. There's a side of me that knows that there are people that have their experience with it, but I'm just trying to be true to -- it's almost like a film that you see, and I can watch it play over and over and over again, and I'm trying to translate it into a musical form.

Ann: mmm. It's, I realize I was setting up for asking another question when I asked that question, and I didn't even know it. I told you before that when I was reading various critics on the subject of you, there was one who called your career something I found quite offensive, which was: "therapy in motion." I found that so offensive because I really resent it when people assume that what you do is confessional, strictly confessional strictly about you, because for me, as I said in my introduction, it has always reached out to all these different aspects of the culture. As if there was a separation. So I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the big picture of the work.

Tori: (grinning)

Ann: Because your work is also about the world, and sexism and religion and everything. It's about everything, Tori! Can you explain it to us!

Tori: Well, the odd thing is, if someone thinks it's about therapy, then they should talk to my therapist, because that's such a different kind of conversation. And I think -- you know, everybody's been talking about what happened in this country in September and that is an event that is outside of us, and yet it's inside of us. So to say that we're not affected personally by events isn't true. And so some writers choose to hide themselves in different characters in their work, or maybe they don't hide at all, maybe they are just the observer, but they are a character even if they're the voyeur. They are something in this thing. So it's not a true statement with any writer, even if you're talking about somebody else's life, maybe you should get one of your own, I'm not sure. But I do think that it's --

Ann: -- it's like all writing is biographical, and all writing is not autobiographical at the same time, because we're just made up of everything else, I mean there are some spiritual traditions that believe all of us are part of the same energy field or matter field --

Tori: -- oh, not all of us, please --

Ann: -- all of us except maybe Dubya.

Tori: Yeah.

Ann: (laughs)

(audience applauds)

Ann: It's interesting because I do think -- we were talking also -- no, we weren't talking about this, I was reading about it though, how memory, cultural memory, and personal memory, collide as well. And I think that's something that happens in your work too

Tori: Brain fart. (pause) You know, when the songs are coming and I have loads of visual books, because I go to visual artists a lot, and sometimes it spans the period of the '50s, or it's two centuries ago, what have you. I find that some songs, I've looked at books and they've influenced one song that spanned many hundreds of years, because the imagery, in that way, it's not as if it's segregated. And we can access it, because always what you're trying to do as a songwriter is bring people to the fire. And relate to them in some way and build pictures that they can walk into, but sonically. That's what the old storytellers used to do. If there had been a war that week in the next shire, you would be there talking about it and those people would be woven into the story. And I think that's what you're going to see happen in the next year, is that the events that had occurred in some way, are going to be, they have to be, they have to be talked about and woven, even in small ways, even in references. But I also think that's what writers should be doing.

Ann: (acts like she's spitting) Doyouwanna ... play anything?

(Tori laughs, the crowd cheers)

Tori: I'll do the little song that I do for my little one. What we do is usually, because there's no piano involved in this, usually she's -- teeth hurt or whatever. It's all that (covers face with hands, whimpers) "No, no, no, n,o no, no, no... dada." and it's like, "Dada's sleeping, you get me," and she says, "No, no, no, dada." and then anyway it's this little creature, and it's always, (sings)

Oh my sweet
Sweet little angel dove,
The sweetest dove that mommy loves,
The sweetest girl that I have known,
Mommy's sweet, sweet little angel girl.

(blows kisses to the crowd)

Tori: Okay everybody, it was nice to see you.

Ann: Thanks so much for coming.

Details Of The Event From Toriphiles Who Attended

From Tom:

    Hi there. I also went to the interview.'s amazing that some people actually thought her album was coming out on a specific date. She didn't say that at all. It was more as if she was picking a date out of the air. But she did almost say ABSOLUTELY that she'd be touring in September. After saying it a first time, she repeated and said something like 'yeah, almost definitely September." But no...not AT ALL did she say an album would be out on a specific date.

    It was great :-)

From bobby, the bee collector:

    So after seeing the NY Times interview, it would seem the new Tori album is...

    ...coming out in September. She was discussing how she, as a producer, has to think in terms of getting things finished, etc. "You know, so if we say we have to get this out by September 24..."

    I'm just SPECULATING. She could have just been throwing something out there, but she also said, when asked when she'd be touring again, "probably, most likely September."

    The interview was wonderful. Ahhh... she was so fucking adorable. And she sang us Tash's lullabye, after a really nice fan told her he was a music teacher and the fifth grade graduates sang "Twinkle" at the graduation ceremony ("it was their favorite of all the songs they sang"). He gave Tori a video of it and then he asked if she'd play something new for us--she bargained with him and sang the lullabye instead.

    Just wonderful. I'm sure someone bootlegged this (Anne and Tori joked about it being recorded a few times) and it was being videotaped.

    Ahh...what a night.

    Oh and Tori mentioned working on this material for the past three years, as she did in that Alternative Press article. We weren't sure how to intrepret/read that comment then, but it seems pretty certain she meant it that way we previously thought. Very interesting stuff. She explained how she records tape after tape of stuff, and then goes back and sort of slices things up and compiles stuff and then...songs are born.

    (And she talked about being a mom and being pregnant and her, um, nipple infections quite a was great, hehe).

    But Tori detailed the basis behind a song on the new album (if it turns up on the new album, of course).... She said there was a confrontation of some sort that happened while she was pregnant, and she wasn't sure how things would turn out. Sounded pretty intense. And she said that she wrote the song and it's very powerful, but very blatant (like, if you were involved in that situation, you'd know what she was talking about). So, she attempted to rewrite the song without being so truthful and she said it was crap, so it seems like that song is staying as is.

    And she mentioned that now she's really listening to the songs as songs...the backing musicians come second now in her mind. They're still important, but now it's about the SONG, and not so much the other instruments. Fascinating, eh?

    OK, I'm pooped. Someone tell me to shut up.

From flappergirl:

    hi everybody--the tori interview tonight was really amazing!

    i was taking some notes during the interview, so i will just jot down here what i wrote. It's a little disjointed (sorry), but here ya go:

    First of all I noticed immediately that she spoke quietly, slowly and thoughtfully. It was impressive because it made everybody really be quiet and listen. She also looked really pretty--black tight pants that flared w/ slits, black stilletto boots, a black sweater w/ tan stripes. Her hair was straight tonight and she had her classic tori makeup on: smoky eye with lip gloss. and she is a peanut---tiny thing!

    OK, her thoughts on....

    On 9/11:

    "The wonderful thing about tragedy is it kicks the shit out of arrogance."

    She said that when the planes hit the towers, it awoke the feeling of invasion in her--and if people had not been invaded before, they were dealing with this all-new feeling.

    She said that on tour, the line in "Winter," things are gonna change so fast moved her a lot and so did other songs. Like playing "Philadelphia" in Philly--because that city is the "middle sister between NYC and D.C." and that was important to "give importance to the middle sisiter because they usually don't get enough attention."

    She said that playing NYC was "challenging for 2 reasons: 1) it was humbling, and 2) nobody wanted to see me break down" so she had to really be there to support people.

    On motherhood:

    She realizes that being a mom "isn't something you fit in between gigs, it's something you fit your gigs around."

    Her order of life priorities:
    1) being a mom
    2) being a musician
    3) mark (that got a chuckle from her and audience both)

    "The miscarriages made me realize the sacredness of life."

    "Being pregnant healed me in many ways." --and then she brought up the idea of "invasion" again, saying that pregnancy is the ultimate invasion, and that "you're an ecosystem."

    On composing:

    The music comes first, then the lyrics.

    She usually finds a little riff and plays it over and over (it "haunts me" and she then played SATY intro as she was talking." She says he riff will turn into a song eventually by "finding its own rhythm to your life"

    She has been writing a "new work" that she's been working on for "3 years.

    "There's always somewhere in you as a writer--you have to be a fierce and ferocious editor..."

    If you think everything you write is no good, well that's no good, and if you think everything you write is fantastic then you REALLY need a producer! [laughs]

    When she writes, she usually turns on the tape player and just leaves it recording, and sometimes fills up to 15 cassettes both front and back, and then "maybe I'll only get 8 bars worth out of that." Then she starts "compiling." They are "essence songs" at that point, and she has an "essence bank" she draws from. Then these essences haunt her and she creates a melody and then some words come--but there are some grey areas that she eventually fills in over time.

    "The songs know who they are--they exist before I bring them into this form."

    She uses art books for inspiration in writing. Mentioned Georgia O'Keefe as inspiration.

    The "songwriter tries to bring people to the 'fire' like an old storyteller would. Songs reflect events that have occurred."

    On the song "Mother":

    It is not really about her real mother--but a reference to the "Great Mother=Earth." She says she is really close to her real mom, so her mom was not threatened by the song. What it's about : It is a combo of Tori's essence (the "great mother" w/in her) and how this "little being [Tori] that got separated from the 'great mother'" along the way.

    When asked why she didn't choose Indie record instead of Corporate label:

    She says "it's all a choice.

    Somebody has to distribute it. And whoever distributes it has to play the chess game. And if you are indie, you still play the chess game, only in a different way." And she went on to say that she knows this business (aka, record biz), and she really wanted someone who would "protect the cubs well, and promote them the way they should be" promoted (meaning she wanted backing in the promotion dept!). And she chose this company (Epic) because she "really likes the woman who runs the company" (no doubt Polly Anthony!!!) And that "she is a motherfucker!"

    at the end [of the interview] she said it [her new album with Epic] would be out in september--

From Nick (Icayrus):

    Just got home and it was AMAZING!!!!!

    Tori was sooooooo funny, I always thought Tori was funny, but she was on top of it tonight

    Tori says that the new album is hopefully probably going to come out in September and a lot of the interview deal with her creative process and the way she transcribes what she sees.

    She mentioned that one of the songs that she's working on right now deals with a confortation she had while she was pregnant where she was fearful of what was going to happen to herself and Tash. She didn't really elaborate to much on this issue, but it should be interesting to see what this song will be like.

    She also talked at the end (during the Question and Answer period) about why she is with a record label instead of going independant and she said that the industry and record stores are like a chess match and she would rather have the company do this for her then having to deal with each store in that manner. She also said that she liked the head of where she is going to sign because she is "a motherfucker"

    She talked about some of the songs from SLG and from the past and how they came to hear which was great to hear.

    During one of her stories, her nickname that Mark has for her slipped (Taz) and she also mentioned that she has 3 accounts because we're you're famous you can do that and not have to deal with numbers.

    There were so many other great instances (the Brain Fart and the Frisbee Pizza) so if you can get a boot of this, get one! And if anyone has it, please contact me, I'd love a copy.

    There were camera crews there filming this event as well, so I'm not sure if we will see this in the future on any dvd/etc.

    Hope this helps to satisfy some of you. It was a great event.


    P.S.-She sang a couple bars of the song that she sings to Tash which there is an MP3 out which has more of the song, what she sang was more of the beginning of this before the "sorrow" part.

From Danielle Pearlberg:

    hi mike! my friend sarah and i just got back from seeing (and listening!) to tori's conversation with ann powers. it was really wonderful!! she spoke about everything from tash to the record business to her shamanic journeys. and best of all, she sang us a lullaby that she sings to tash whenever she's upset. she mentioned the song earlier in the interview but said it was something that she would keep between the two of them. but, when a guy got up and said that his 5th grade class recorded 'twinkle' and that he gave the tape to joel, she seemed touched. he asked her to sing the lulllaby in return for the tape. when she eventually sang it, it was the most beautiful and intimate thing you have ever heard. we wept! it was crazy. overall, the questions from ann and the audience were really good. and of course, she looked amazing.

From Jasmine:

    Mike- *First and foremost- Tori did confirm that she signed with a new label. She did not say which label, only that the company she chose is run by a woman "I like- She's a real motherfucker". Second, Tori confirmed that she has been writing/working on new material for a new cd, but did not say when we would expect to see it. Third, Tori also confirmed that she will be touring again this year, and is pretty postive that the tour will be about September!

    I just got home and am exhausted, but what an amazing evening! First off, Tori looked absolutely beautiful and seemed to be in good spirits. There was a Steinway on stage which Tori played a bit here and there while talking about her writing process (which is a lot more grueling and takes much longer than I imagine), however Tori seemed as though she didn't really want to play anything outright...she seemed more interested in talking. Tori talked a lot about motherhood-sore nipples and pumping breastmilk topics were humerous; she also surprised me by talking frankly of her 3 miscarraiges and how differently she viewed life with each pregnancy. She spoke of playing piano for hours at a time while she was pregnant and how Tash was able to recognize songs after she was born. As Ann P. encouraged Tori to let us in on some of that music (via the Steinway) Tori graciously declined saying that those songs are to be shared between her and her daughter only. However, during the Q&A a man told Tori that he is a music teacher and gave Joel a tape of his 5th grade students singing Twinkle, and asked if she would share any bit of new music she's working on. She declined to do that, but said since he shared his students singing with her that she would share a lullaby she sings to Tash, and proceeded to sing acapella a beautiful song written to her "little angel".

    I'm going to bed was an amazing time. I'm so lucky to have been there.

From Susan (VenusFetish):

    I was at the NY Times Event today. My mom and I got there around 6:10pm and met up with a friend who was at the end of the line...there weren't that many people. So we went to get food, at about 7:20pm the line was around the building. They let us in shortly after 7:30pm and we waited inside, thousands of people checking tickets. Finally after SO long of waiting we get inside. Amazing enough, we grabbed 4th row...and BOOM...there was a piano there!

    After waiting a while and watching people suck up to Joel, run around hugging and kissing their friends and take their seats..the lights dim. Then after another wait, this guy comes out, introduces Ann Powers and then she goes and introduces Tori.

    1 thing I did not like about Ann, she called Tori's music Feminist. Tori doesn't even like to use that word...but that's my issues, I'll move along now. Tori comes on stage, gives waves, everyone stands and ya know, the whole shibang.

    Finally we get down to business. There were some great questions asked and it's SO hard to actually remember it all. I loved when Tori talked about Tash. She also got pretty personal...when talking about the pregnancy she mentioned having a nipple infection (Mark called the people attending to Tori the "Milk Nazis") and mentioned there was a time while in utero that there was a problem with the pregnancy with Tash. I am not one to want to go too deep into someone's life so I am glad she stopped there.

    There was a lot of humor going on tonight. Ann Powers would say some really stupid things at times, but Tori was great. She had my mom in laughing her butt off. She also said some wonderful things about growing up, how LE doesn't really reflect how she is now, but she still loves to play them. More now than even when she first started playing them. She also mentioned about Heart Of Gold. She said that to men, it's as if they are never happy with just one person and you are always out seeking more. She said there should be an END. Which to me I am seeing it as that she believes her and Mark are currently at the end. They are both happy with each other, with one person and a lot of men aren't into that. Men are looking for more. She mentioned having a sweatshirt with "THE END" on it. Showing that she's the only one ...the end point to Mark's love. If that makes sense...let me know. HAHA.

    Ann constantly tried to get Tori to play and it was as if Tori and the rental piano were two postive sides of a magnet...they just didn't wanna get too close. Tori would do a lil fiddling on it, but wouldn't get into any song. She did a lil tinkling, then the beginning to Silent All These Years and did some Rattlesnakes. Like I said, there was just SO much it's hard to summarize it all.

    So then Ann was getting a cue card that said it was time for Q&A. It was confusing, I was waiting through the whole time thinking of a question and I had a perfect one. So I thought they would pick people who raised their hand (I'm a good ol school girl!). WELL, I saw some girl get up and walk to the mic (which was only a row up from me...very close). So I get up and I go over to it and people started knockin me out of the way. I finally am in line, blocked by everyone so I can't even see Tori. A man goes, counts from the mic and up to 5 and tells us to sit back down. WHAT A BUMMER!!! So I walked back down, a frown on my face and still a lil shaking from thinking that I was actually going to be able to ask her my question.

    So she goes through questions. One female was talking to Tori and made no sense (well, not in my mind). She quoted John Lennon and such and used words that I bet 80% of the people didn't know. Tori was talking to her and after a while Ann interupted and said "Let's not have a conversation, let's go to the next person". So people asked questions and I found one to be just fabulous. It was a man who was a 5th grade music teacher. He gave Joel a tape to give Tori of his 5th graders singing Twinkle and how it was their favorite Tori song. Tori was just so happy to hear that and it was so cute! So then he went and asked Tori to possibly play something new and not heard. We all started cheering and like I said before Tori was not up for playing tonight, not at all. Then she looks to her manager and I saw him shaking his head "NO" so Tori was laughing and told the guy that she will sing a song she sings to Tash. She started doing an impression of Tash that was absolutely ADORABLE!!!!! Showing how when Tash gets cranky, all she wants is her daddy. So Tori sang Acapella and it was beautiful. Something about being her little angel, her sweetest little girl, it was beautiful. Her voice carried some amazing notes. Ann started getting a lil ansy and said "Okay we are going to play a game, let's ask and answer ALL questions in less than 5 minutes." This was annoying, Ann was pushing everyone to GO GO GO! So finally after 5 min was up and a girl was ready to ask her question Ann said "Okay game's over 5 minutes are up!" And Tori said "Well wait, can't I just answer the rest of their questions? There's only a few left. Will your promoter get mad or something if we stay a little longer?" (something like that) and so Ann let her go on. This one girl asked Tori about Shamanism which I was really happy to her Tori's thoughts on it. I liked it because she mentioned Ayahausca and my mom liked it because she also mentioned that you can go out and explore your spiritual side without that stuff, but both reach a different level of understanding that you wouldn't normally tap into. I enjoyed it a lot. Finally it was over, while everyone was clapping a girl yelled out about Tori touring and when. She said "Well maybe in Sept." and then she said "Probably, maybe in Sept." Then she waved and left the stage. It was great!!! So yay, we are getting a tour and right now she is compiling her songs for a new CD.

    This was amazing and I am so lucky to have been able to be there and see that. I don't think this has ever been done...not in such a very personal way. So ya, no real music but it was great anyway. Glad to meet new people and see old ones. My only problems were, the SAME PEOPLE who are infront for everything were of course in front row for this (it gets sickening after a while, you think they have the kindness to just relax and let someone else get the chance - I mean I don't mind being where I was but for those who never were able to get that close it's just SO selfish) and Ann Powers was annoying, trying to always be funny and it was rude of her to knock down George W. Bush. I don't care who or what you are, if you are to consider yourself a good interviewer then you do not put your opinions into an interview. Other than that, it's great! Also, this might come out on Audio or Video (or both) because I read something like that in the booklet they gave us and I saw a woman taking pictures and a few people filming. And the press were in the back, no press were in the front.


From karina-ludz:

    Hello Mike! Tonight I had a great pleasure to see Tori during her conversation with Ann Powers at the Graduate Center in NYC. Here are my impressions:

    Tori seemed to be very relaxed and enoing the show, she joked a lot. she sang a lullaby for her daughter, Tash, which had the same melody as the one we could hear at the Polish radio pr.3, but had a totally different lyrics; anyway, it was increadibly beautiful. Tori talked a lot about motherhood, Mark and Tash as well as about September 11th tragedy, music buisness and process of composing new songs. She played few first lines of Rattlesnakes and Silent all these years an some kind of little short improvisation during talking to Ann Powers. There was some time for EWF's questions and then Tori dissapeared... But before that she said these few magic words we've been for for so long - there's a new album coming possibly in September. I think we hoped Tori would stay for a little longer while and talk to us, but still it was very nice evening and unforgettable experience. I'll try to send some more quotes of Tori as soon as possible

From delilah:

    I think the others pretty much covered everything in the was wonderful, Tori was hilarious tonight, I've never seen her that funny.....she had many insightful things to say about the tragedy, songwriting, and such.....discussed everything form songs to breast milk ....awesome nite......

From FrogNamedJethro:

    hey...first off all the whole september 24th thing is not confirmed...her answer to a shouted out question of "what about an album date" at the very end was "probably september...(pause)...almost certainly, probably september" thats a direct quote...

    but anyway it was great fun but they TEASED us horribly by putting a piano out there! it was clear she didnt want to play and ann kept ebbing her annoyingly on. it was clear that tori was getting pissed at her at a few points. they only let 5 people from each side ask questions, one guy was a music teacher who had given joel a tape of his 5th graders singing twinkle for their graduation! it was a great therefore he asked for some new material in exchange adn we got the was sweet...another question was about mother but that has already been covered.

    ann was..well...dorky. her little "hmm..oh hmmm.."'s after EVERY comment i could have lived with out! god damnit! and that laugh, take some ridalin ann! you could tell she was very nervous, i would be too. she does deserve credit for actually being able to comprehend what tori was saying and then segue it into a new question. i doubt 90% of journalists would be able to keep up with her.

From Jasmine:

    Mike- I e-mailed you last night...sorry I wasn't more descriptive in my account of the events, but I was so zonked. Someone posted a very accurate account including many quotes on the forums last night.

    HOWEVER- my seats were very close to Tori (3rd row directly in front of her) and I'm very positive she did not disclose a date for a new album release. She only said she was "pretty positive" she would have a new album and be touring again in September. And though she did say she signed with a new label that is headed by a woman (and would not venture to go independent), she did not at any time say which label it was (although I think Epic is very likely). Tori seemed to be very careful about exactly what words she was choosing and gave us information that was thorough enough, but without being too specific.

    Also in a booklet that was handed out regarding the critics choice series, there is a page that says "Many of our TimesTalks programs will soon be available on audio compact disc". The event was filmed by a camera crew of some sort, but there is indication in the booklet if the taped event will be released on video/dvd.


    and before that she was talking about recording deadlines and such and said "so say i have to have it in by sept. 24th..."

    This quote was posted on the forum and Tori did say something like this, but she was not speaking in reference to her new album. She was speaking hypothetically in response to an audience question about what it's like to be your own producer and have to be disciplined enough to meet your own deadlines.

    Just wanted to make that clear!

From Shannon (OVERTIME):

    It was awesome Tori was really really funny.

    I really wish they would have let more people ask questions,I ran up there but was to late.They weren't even gonna let the rest of the people in line finish there questions,but Tori said no she wanted them to continue even though time was running out.

    Ann did seem a little nervous but I thought she did a good job and when people were asking questions she moved from her chair in front of Tori, and went and sat on the stage pressumably not to block Tori so people could see her.I thought that was cool of her.

    Tori seemed very centerd,calm and the child came out of her a lot.

    She did this impression of her daughter that was so cute!The lyrics from the song about her daughter had the word Angel in it a lot. I was so happy to be there!!!

From little blue pea:

    Hi- I was there last night and had an amazing time...everyone here gave a good account of the events, but I just wanted to add that in the booklet that was given out as we entered the building there is a page that says "Many of our TimesTalks programs will soon be available on audio compact disc". Since this was recorded last night, hopefully the Tori talk will be one of them. At the bottom of the page was a mailing list form, which I was supposed to leave last night and forgot, and then NY Times is to notify people when the audio recording is available for purchase. I suppose if people called the NY Times they would put them on the list.

    Also-I was pretty close to the front and am pretty sure Tori did not release a specific date for her album. Although Sept. 24th is likely, she seemed to throw out that date as part of a hypothetical answer to a question regarding what it's like to be your own producer and meet your deadlines. Otherwise, when later asked about a new album and tour she gave September as a pretty definate time.

    I also noticed that although she said she is signing with a label headed by a woman who is a "real motherfucker", that she never actually said the name of the label. I'm sure it is probably Epic, but I just thought it interesting that she did not actually say the name of the label. Just food for thought.

    All in all a great night! I'm so lucky to have been there.

From tori_angel22:

    'm so glad I was there! It was really great to actually see Tori again! Every one else summed up quite nicely what was said and asked! The music teacher was the cutest! Ann Powers definately got a bit annoying. What does Almost Famous have to do with Tori? Any way I ran into my long lost YMCA pal Megan. And that was cool. Hi Megan!! I'm sure we'll run into eachother again, next tour probably. I had a great night! I'm glads my fiance was with me too. He got to hear from Tori a lot of what I tell him about(ie. her father, her songs, Tash, and other general stuff) He thought it was cool she covered Neil Young!

From GreggB:

    I'm the music teacher a lot of your reviewers have been writing about that gave the video of my kids singing 'Twinkle' to Tori! I just wanted to thank everybody for their nice comments, and also for filling in some of the blanks for me, as I was in a daze pre and post getting to talk to Tori! Last night's 'conversation' was amazing!! It had been a number one priority of mine for quite a while to get Tori a tape of my kids singing her song. And now I really think she is going to watch to it! 'Of course I had to change some words for the kids' version, for example...

    'Boy so hard, but I know a girl twice as hard' became 'Life is hard, but I know that I am twice as hard'.

    But this song was very meaningful for the kids as most of their lives ARE very hard and all too many come from broken homes and rough situations. As I told Tori last night, it really was the kids favorite song! I left the address of my school on the video, so maybe if I'm lucky she'll scribble a little something to us about what she thought! Whether she does or does not, she already gave me a beautiful thank you by singing the lullaby to Tash that she wouldn't sing earlier on the evening. Well that made the evening incredibly special for me, and I'm glad to see for others too! I'll never forget it!

    Several of the people working there did say that they would be airing it on the CUNY cable channel. So we'll all be keeping our fingers crossed I'm sure!!

From Marla Tiara (Antigone):

    I got to talk to Ann Powers afterwards, and I told her that she was one of the few interviewers I've thought really "got" Tori. Ann reiterated what she said in her intro - if she could be a rock star, she'd want to be Tori. :)

    Also, nobody has mentioned (I dont think) a really funny moment - that Ann was asking Tori "can you tell us about your music....can you tell us about the big picture?" That got some giggles from the audience, and Ann seemed to realize what she had just said. Tori laughed too.

    Oh, and before the Q&A began, Tori started doodling on the piano and she had the cutest expression on her face - eyes closed, leaning back, feet crossed and up off the floor. She looked adorable.

    It was a fantastic night!

From PowerPuffPele:

    I was there last night, and I totally expected someone to ask about the new album/tour. I knew that was what everyone really wanted to know. So, before she left, when everything was done, she looked to the audience and said "so that's it we're finished?". I couldn't not ask sitting in the second row right in her face so I said "What everyone wants to know is when the new album and tour will be." She looked at me and smiled (she had to have known she'd get that question) and replied "September -- most probabally September -- hopefully." So everyone in the front started saying we all have to start saving up soon. I was the most personal Tori experience in my opinion, so intimate. I'm glad I got the chance to go. I'm opening a savings account with Tickle my Tori next week. I went to 9 shows this past tour and I want to top it this next tour. I always try to top the past tour. So everybody party! Can't wait to see you all in September.

From Angela S.:

    Hi Mike, I was lucky enough to be at the NYT event last nite, it was absolutely amazing!!! I even was able to ask Tori a question! I asked her if she wasn't born with this talent what would she be doing instead and how would she decide. (Although it hardly can out that clear, I kind of botched it up because I was so nervous.) She told me she had never been asked that question before and that she honestly had no idea. I liked that she was honest with me rather than just blurting out anything. Unfortunately my friend Joe was cut off the line because of the lack of time but Tori was nice enough to wave and say hi to him for me.

    She spoke about so many things, and I was so excited and in awe that I'm having a very hard time remembering much of what she said. She was just so entrancing! I always wished to have a personal conversation with Tori and it really felt that way. It was a fairly small room, Tori spoke directly to us, looking at people all over right in the eye rather than Ann, you could tell she was interested in us like we are interested in her. It was a most delightful experience I'll always treasure!

    If anyone has a transcript of this I would be so grateful if they would share it with all of us!!!!

From naws:

    the NY Times interview was a wonderful experience. i really enjoyed hearing Tori speak and i think she was actually able to say a lot of things she hasn't discussed publically before - probably because it wasn't for a mass audience, who knows.

    one part i really connected to was a mention of being pregnant and other woman in the business who serve a different purpose. they're there to be sexy and desireable, whereas she listens to the heart. Tori told a little story about sitting around with these women (i don't think literally...) and they're young and at a different place and say things like "hee heee you're pregnant and fat and out of commission for 15 months, giggle giggle." Sure, they're being mean, but they don't think they're being mean, that's just where they are and they're just on a different path and that's okay.

From just not:

    i for one found the experience incredibly satisfying - i know that some people were upset that there was a piano there teasing us all, but i REALLY wanted to hear tori talk - i mean how many opportunities do we get to sit in the same room with her and hear her ideas on subjects ranging from politics to religion to parenthood? we've seen her play, and we know that we will again, so i wasn't disappointed that there wasn't time for her to play something.

    and i found the audience to be very well behaved - much more so than i expected, i have to say.

From Pele the Siren:

    HI!I just wanted to add to whats been said!Thank goodness my friend Jen and I got there in one piece!We took the bus from good ol Baltimore MarylandAnyhoo..I thought the NYTimes needed some clarifications...such as what time to line up outside of the building to come in!Jen and I were there at 7:30 figuring that they would let us into the auditorium at was confusins...I also thought it would be good to let us know how the Q&A was going to be done...hands...lining up..I think alot of peoples feelings wouldn't have been so hurt if it had been done in a manner where everyone knew what would happen.

    I give Ann Powers alot of credit for doing this interview1-b/c it is rare to have an audience like that for an interview...I can understnad why she had that nervous laugh...we were all intently listening...2-Tori is a somewhat complicated interview because she doesn't give the standard answer(tthank gawd...she is well thought out and creative...thats just her!)3-I am sure it was difficult b/c Ann seems to adore her just as much as we do...and it must have been really special for her because Tori was her first interview EVER...well,her first breaker...something like that!

    Hightlights of Tori!!First of all...SEEING a PIANO on stage...I flipped!!Hearing Tori talk about the 11th and Philly being the middle sister,my friend and I completely relate b/c we are the middle sisters who get looked overSeeing Tori imitate Tash(how cute was that?!?!)..all of the questions that were asked were great,I was so excpecting someone to ask"what were you feeling when you wrote winter?" I also loved how she sang Tash's lullby(that little song means alot because I listened to it alot when I was away from home and worried) and hearing rattlesnakses(that rhythm).. the inside jokes such as the mention of the Big PictureI also loved how she talked about Tash's middle name and how it would always be there(lotr) and the fact that tori continued the interview past the hour 15 minutes!!Even the NYTimes staff was commenting on how nice she was at the end of the interview(i went to meet ann) The cute moment goes to the music teacher...gawd,I have a heart of peanutbutter!!!and just as nice finding out that there is a "possibly.maybe" music/tour in September!!

    it was really so wonderful and I am soo glad it was rescheduled and so intimate

From SisterJanet3:

    I wasn't all that impressed with Ann either. It seemed like she had wordfinding difficulties, and she was a little confusing.

    The guy with the music class was the most adorable Tori fan I've ever seen. Hands down! He was so sweet, and what a great gift for Tori!

    I want to thank Angell and Jill, and their friends, including "the witches", who made my night so much fun. Amy and I loved hanging out with you guys in line. What fun!

    VenusFetish, I sat right next to your mom, and she is just the sweetest little lady. And, I loved your hat too. Maybe too much. I wanted to just grab it and run, but that's no way to make friends, now is it?

    I do have to say that it was a bit much for people to stand in line all day. I was having dinner at Houlihan's *(right across the street) at 5:30, and there were already quite a few people in line. Amy and I were like, WTF?!?!?!?!?! There was no M&G planned, nor did she do one. I had decided that I didn't care if I was the last one in, and I ended up in the fourth row too, in such a small place, that it wouldn't have mattered where I sat. There was no reason for all those people to wait there all day. Amy's had back surgery, so we didn't have the option of standing in line all day. If it is the same people over and over, then that's not really all that fair. Amy has never met Tori, and probably never will, because she has a bad back, and people who show up at 6:00 in the morning every time Tori is in town, will prevent Amy from ever meeting her. I'm so happy they get to meet her a couple of thousand times though. SHEESH!

    All in all, I had such a good time. I took tons of pictures with a digital (no flash, and my camera doesn't make a peep when you take pics), and I'll be uploading them all today, so hopefully I can share a few here later.

    P.S. Did anyone else notice that Tori said the word "cancer" a bunch of times, and at one point, said "me and Tash are fine". And, she snuck in and out of the building so well, it was almost like she's heightened her security?

From Woj (Posted to the Precious Things mailing list):

    i was lucky enough to get a ticket to the new york times-hosted conversation between tori and ann powers over the weekend. i haven't had a chance to write anything about it, but i did want to quickly mention it.

    it took place at cuny's graduate center in an decent-sized auditorium and was attended by, oh, maybe 350-400 fans. it was professionally videotaped (and presumably audiotaped as well). an insert in the program indicated that several of the programs from the timestalk series may be released on compact disc, so let's hope that's the case with tori's.

    the evening started with an introduction from ann whose professional career, as i didn't previously know, was kicked off by her review of _little earthquakes_ in the village voice. tori then came on stage (to voluminous applause). tori and ann then talked about several topics -- the song writing process, art in the aftermath of september's terrorist attacks, the effect of tori's pregnancy on her art -- for about a hour. then tori fielded about ten questions from the floor. this segment was supposed to be about 15 minutes long, but it ended up running about 30 minutes since it was the last program of the evening and there was no need to exit the auditorum immediately.

    probably the biggest news of the evening is that tori is working on a new album and that she was hoping that it would be released in september, along with a tour then too. tori was fairly hazy on this point and didn't make any firm commitment, but she seemd to hope that would be time frame.

    the most enjoyable bit of the evening was when tori sang a brief, acapella song which is the one she sings to tash to comfort her. tori sang this in response to request to perform a new song during the Q&A period. it was pretty neat. (i think the only reason she sang it was because the guy who asked said that he had taught his 5th grade class to sing "twinkle" and that it was their favorite song to sing -- tori was visibly touched; he said he gave a videotape of it to joel so she'll be seeing that soon, i'm sure!)

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