USA Today
September 26, 2001

Added Sept 27, 2001

 Tour Info
 Dent Forum
 Search / Map
 Entry Page

There is a Tori article in the September 26, 2001 edition of USA Today in the U.S. Thanks to Chad D for telling me about it. You can read the article at the USA Today web site or below.

13 'Strange Little Girls' by one Tori Amos

By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY

NEW YORK -- "Death walked into the room, and she was wearing a white dress," says Tori Amos.

The singer/songwriter was working on an album of other writers' songs, she explains; and Death, apparently a big Tom Waits fan, wanted to give her a tip about one of his. "She said, 'When you listen to Time, I want you to hear me sing it.'" Amos, who is relaying this experience from an ovestuffed chair in her Manhattan hotel room, pauses and smiles self-effacingly. "I don't mean to sound like a lunatic," she says. "But songs to me are alive. They don't have physical bodies, but their essence is similar."

In fact, when Amos recorded her new CD, Strange Little Girls, which hit stores last week, she brought 13 different female personalities. Never mind that all the songs she was interpreting had been written by men -- or as Amos puts it, "had male mothers." The 38-year-old singer, who had recently given birth to a daughter, wanted to deliver the material -- which includes tunes by Lou Reed, Neil Young, Eminem, The Beatles and Slayer -- from a woman's perspective.

"It hit me that I was bringing a daughter into a time where even women who have a choice sometimes choose to be subservient," Amos says. "I remember the freedom movement when I was a little girl, people standing up for equality. I would never have thought that 30 years later it would be cool to subjugate women, and to degrade some people's sexual preferences. It's all about the power of the heterosexual male -- and the threat of the alpha female."

Alpha or not, the female characters who populate Girls -- all portrayed by Amos in a series of photos in the album art -- spring from a blend of imagination and research. The Beatles' Happiness Is a Warm Gun was channeled through a call girl whom, Amos discovered, Mark David Chapman had enlisted shortly before murdering John Lennon. "Do you know the service he asked her to perform, in his own words? 'To be silent.' "

Sharon Tate provided the visual inspiration for the narrator of Amos' version of Eminem's '97 Bonnie and Clyde. But as Amos points out, the song features a woman -- one who is stabbed and dumped into a river by her husband, who brings their daughter along as an unwitting accomplice. In Eminem's original, the story is told from the murderer's viewpoint.

"I thought, OK, (Eminem) aligned with the character he wanted to present," Amos says. "But let's be fair: Let's, without changing a word, see how the woman saw it. I'm a big believer in the First Amendment, but if you're going to exercise it, you've gotta be willing to play chess."

Amos is aware that the provocative, sometimes violent imagery on Girls may seem particularly controversial after the recent terrorist attacks. But she rejects the argument made by some politicians and music pundits that provocation and violence in art should be downplayed or avoided. "If journalists and the president can talk about war, then artists need to talk about war -- whether it's internal or in your own home or whatever. Part of healing is seeing your own demons and shadows. And if we start censoring, we'll become what we're fighting against."

Amos will wield her freedom of expression when she embarks on a national tour Friday. Husband and sound engineer Mark Hawley will accompany her, along with their daughter, Natashya, who turned 1 earlier this month. The singer, who was a child piano prodigy, says the tot "plays a little -- but she's way more into ghetto blasters."

Amos laughs. "I know part of that comes from her dad. But believe me -- she is her own person."

Go Back To Articles

Go Back To ToriNews

Please give me feedback, comments, or suggestions about A Dent In The Tori Amos Net Universe. Email me (Mikewhy) at