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Westwood One Radio Network (US, radio)
February 27, 1992
Recorded at The Coach House
in San Juan Capistrano, California
Interviewer: Ok... This is Tori Amos for the Westwood One Radio Network on February 27, 1992. Um, where to start, where to start. Um, so, the one thing I noticed, listening to the album, were a lot of references to fantasy-type things like mermaids and Sleeping Beauty and white horses and faeries and things like that. Has that been a big thing for you, always been into reading fantasy things or...
Tori: Well, faeries are a big thing for me because I used to talk to them. And I, you know, I've said before, it kind of all went wrong when I stopped doing that. I'm a big believer in mythology. I think that when you lose the mythology then you've completely lost the whole plot of it all. The mythology is like the thread that goes from one generation to the next. It's almost as if that's... that's our memory. And if you lose that... I was a big fan of Joseph Campbell and reading his works and reading different mythologies -- Celtic mythology, Native American mythology, Greek mythology. And, especially in Celtic mythology, there's faeries everywhere. So, I talk a lot about faerie tale images because that reminds you of when you were most open. And we were most open when we were kids.
Interviewer: Yeah. Do you feel like you put that aside too quickly with everything happening so quickly with the piano thing, and then going to the music school and everything when you were little? I mean, it must have been hard to have a regular, sort of, childhood thing going on. I know you talked a little bit in the bio about the, there was one year you went to junior high and then one year that was playing in the bars at...
Tori: Well, it's true that I had a dual life happening, but I don't think that was as much the problem as um... when you're growing up, as a kid, having an imagination is not really encouraged. If you really think about it and you go back to, you know, having a crush on John Middleton or whomever it was. That's one that I remember when I was ten. You're not going to show something that isn't thought of as cool by the other morons around you. And most of them have cut out that part of themselves that still imagines, really believes in things. Things that aren't three-dimensional, that you have to touch. If you can't hold it in your hands -- if it's not, you know, the Redskins on Sunday afternoon -- then it isn't relevant. And so I really started buying in to that side of things. Not that the Redskins aren't relevant. Yeah, they're relevant. But so is your imagination, so are those things that you can't turn on the television and see it or it's not something you can hold in your hands. So that's when things got, I think, really numb for me. When I started going into that magical place, that magical world where you believe in possibilities. You know, you believe in things that are maybe more than just... functional -- go to school, go to work, have kids, marry, get a job. Yeah, maybe do a little traveling. That is not my view of having a life. That's not living, that's being dead.
Interviewer: So, you moved first from back east to out here, to Los Angeles, and then now you've ended up in England, but how has that played a part in your songwriting?
Tori: Well, when I first moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast, you know that was just like um... oh my [giggles]. That was a real experimental phase, just completely necessary. And I tried many things on many levels. Some I wouldn't, you know, show you -- at first -- but there's nothing that I've done that hasn't made me what I am today. Why I see things the way I see them is because of every choice I've made.
When I moved to London... that was a huge step, when you leave a country. It's a whole new culture. Just because they speak the same language, they're very different people, let me tell you, trust me folks. I love it over there, but it's a completely -- just because they speak the same language, they're much closer to the Europeans, they're much closer to the French, and they will readily admit this, than they are to the Americans. And... we're just very different.
Interviewer: Did you kind of want to get closer to the Celtic...
Tori: I spent some time in Scotland, and I really have an incredible love for Scotland. And I have read a lot of the mythology and I've spent some time with the leylines and going to Avebury. And yes, Stonehenge is obviously um, a big transmitter. That's really what it was used for. It was an incredible...um, what do you call it? Electronic space, if you will, for that time. Power Station. But to this day, you see, it's been roped off. And it's been... when you go there, it can be a real um... it can be a disappointment because you can't spend time with the stones. And the government has, you know, they've roped it off, they've made it a bit unavailable.
Interviewer: I was there about 10 years ago when you could still go up. I guess people started putting graffiti.
Tori: They did. That could've, you know, that could be handled in other ways. You could have people, I'm sure, you know, if you saw somebody taking out a spray can, I think that you could get to them. The ropes are a bit much, but, Avebury is another one. There are so many standing stones in the UK and in Ireland.
Interviewer: The tourists don't know about it.
Tori: Oh, yeah. And there's just, there's a whole history that hasn't really been looked into that's a lot like the Native Americans. There are so many secrets. I was down in Chichen Itza, I was visiting the Mayan ruins, and there's just so much that you start realizing that they understood that we don't understand. Yeah, we have, you know, refrigerators and automatic washers and stuff, but there are things we don't have. We don't have an understanding of going from adolescence to manhood/womanhood. We don't understand our real purpose as a People. We don't, that's very obvious. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out.
And the only reason I'm beginning, just beginning to understand my purpose is because... I'm opening myself up to many ways of thought that's passed through the ages. I mean you have to read things that visionaries have written to get vision. Yes, I think it can come internally, it can come from within. But I do believe you're so saturated with such unbelievable small-mindedness. And, oh god, just... it's really Dark Age way of thinking, some of what we've got going on. You know, we really are a bit arrogant in the way we think as a people. What, we're the only civilization that exists, planet Earth? What about planet Earth, doesn't it have its own course? Where's it going? It's just gonna hang out with us because we really know what we're doing with it? I mean that's a bit boring, I think.
Interviewer: People are refusing to acknowledge all the knowledge that different cultures have accumulated, and don't realise that it could all be put together. The way that the different religions make it seem somehow separated and not compatible; they don't realise, people are looking at Buddha or people are looking at Jesus. It kind of all comes from the same source.
Tori: Well I really believe that the way that we look at each other -- which is a divided planet -- it's just a reflection of what we've got going on inside, which is... I know that I have had a real division within, from different parts of myself. The bad girl, the good girl. I mean, what is that? What, the prostitute is Bad? What, where, who said that? I find that they're different sides of me. Yes, I have a violent side. Yes, I have a victim side. I have what I term the virgin side. And I also have the prostitute side. I have many many sides. And there's the male side, the male side of me that feels very inadequate. Then there's that warrior side. You know, they're all sides of myself. Then there's the female side that feels very much inadequate. And then the one, of course, that thinks she can, you know, move mountains. And it's finding a balance with all these different sides of myself. I kind of invite 'em over for a plate of spaghetti. Have 'em all going at the table.
And I start seeing that people I pull into my life are also kind of really reflections of what's going in, inside of me. And I haven't acknowledged for many years, I've been a bit self-righteous. It's really easy to say, 'My way is the the way.' It comes out of insecurity. And now I'm getting to the point where... I'm being able to accept... the um, the coward. That's a hard one to accept. It's hard to accept the abuser. Because that one, you know, we spit on. I've written 'Me and a Gun.' I understand an abusive situation, I've tasted that. I know what it's like to be victimized by somebody that you don't really know -- a stranger, if you will -- and the affect that it can have on you because of what you take on, the guilt you take on. But once you work through that, then you have to really look at the incredible harsh judgment that you have on the abuser. It doesn't justify their action by any means. Nothing justifies somebody taking another person's choices away. Nothing justifies me reaching over and smacking you across the face. Nothing justifies me throwing you against the wall. Nothing.
However, I've had to look at the part of me that has so much contempt for the abuser. I've really had to look at that. And then that's called forth a part of me that could just rip somebody's head off. I've made a choice not to abuse people. But I found that my hatred for it is poisonous. That's not the way that I pass through it, that's not the way that I heal myself of it...
Interviewer: Was writing the song part of healing yourself?
Tori: Writing the song has been incredibly healing.
Interviewer: Is it, is that easier for you to write the song and sing it than to talk about?
Tori: Yes. Yeah, yeah. I don't talk about the incident, because I feel like I have in the way that I wanted to. Um, I also don't think about him per se in my-- it's about me now. He has his own path. But I think about the part of me... Again, I stress, over and over again, 'cause this is a bit of a delicate subject. It doesn't justify that kind of action. Nothing that I'm going to say. But you really start thinking about, what is the cause of something like that? And how will it stop, how is it ever going to stop? You know, it passes from parents to child, who grows up, passes it to their children, and it just doesn't stop... until a generation rises up and says, 'No. Before I pass it to my children, I have to look at myself. I have to be really fair.' Get all of those shadows out here. Get the things in the closet. Let's open up the cupboards, now.
You get all the fundamentalist Christians pointing the finger. You've gotta really go, 'God, what are they running from?' You know, they're the ones that have the serious demons inside. That's not, I'm not being unkind when I say that. I say that having been one... you know, I was never into that, never. But it's very easy to not look at your own fears and start screaming bloody murder. It's really easy to say, 'This is... this is horrible.'
For instance, the people that wanted to have certain things censored. They wanted 'Nikki' censored, Prince's 'Nikki.' Masturbating. Now, really think about that. Why are they so afraid of their own hand? And their own experience of that. That's what it is. I mean, god, if we're afraid of that... that's what's sick is that we're afraid of that. We're afraid. That can be a very beautiful thing. And it's self-awareness. People get all, in America, people get really antsy about that kind of stuff, which I find incredibly hypocritical when you turn on the soap operas and what's up. I mean, on one hand we're such a dichotomy as a society because we have this unbelievable violence, unbelievable violence on television and, you know, a little skin here and there. And yet we're so prude. Then you go to Europe -- not a lot of violence happening. But, you know, they have naked people on television. They are not afraid of the human body. I mean, let's be fair about this. Europe has other things, they've got other stuff that they don't look at. Every culture does. Every person does. You know, there's stuff that I won't look at because I'm not, you know, really wanting to bring some of those goodies up. But I'm doing better than I have before. At least I'm not walking around in complete pain, screaming at people just, you know, because they took the Cornflakes box that I was gonna take off the shelf.
Interviewer: They fear things that they keep in the dark, it's almost worse if they're trying to hide it from kids, you can imagine... I mean, I grew up Baptist which is heavy-duty, too. It's funny, I listened to the whole album by myself... things were just reminding me of, I went to Baptist school from kindergarten through eighth grade... I was... thinking, this is really reminding me of, of things and then when I read that you were Methodist preacher's daughter, I went, "Oh, that's why I was picking up on these things." Things they didn't want us to hear about or know about or you know, censored our textbooks, that even music was bad, other than what we sang in the choir in church. But they didn't believe in... television was evil to watch it or to own one or to own a radio.
Tori: Yeah. Evil is an interesting one because I believe that evil is seen most from those that are trying to stamp out evil. And you watch it, you watch it closely. People that say, you know, 'Evil is television' or 'Evil is sex' or 'Evil is this.' Evil is the denial of that part of you that wants sex and that wants television because you see in the repression, and dragging that part outside the house, which is the body. Putting it outside, stringing it up, lacerating it with, 'You're bad, you're bad, you're bad.' What do you think you're really creating? What do you think you're creating?
I've said this many, many times to people. And I'm going to bring it up now. I don't talk a lot about it in interviews, because this is not what my music's about. My music is truly about stripping myself and looking at parts of myself. And if they're used as a mirror, then, you know, so be it, let 'em be used as that. But I'm going to talk about the um, anti-choice movement for a minute, which is what I call it, because pro-life is not what it's about. This is not about 'saving the children.' Quote, unquote. And I'll tell you why. It's very simple. You know how many millions of children in the Columbian sewers, everywhere that I've gone in my travels, holding their hands up to be taken home. 'Take me home.' The AIDS babies in the wards. Ok, just kids down the street, we can find them down in the city, that have no place, no home. You know why? Because they're treated like trash. Like smelly cabbage. They're thrown out. We have millions of children that need homes. So why don't they give them a home? That's all I have to say about it. That's the root of the issue. This idea of bringing the fetus into it, this idea of this, that, and the other thing, Theologically speaking. You can get Theologian on either side arguing their point. Why? It's boring, it's a waste of time. And I'll tell you why it's a waste of time. Because if people would stop judging the women that were doing it, if they'd stop judging and started looking at themselves, there would be homes for children.
You know, the whole planet has to change. Every movement has things it has to look at. Every movement, including the pro-choice movement. And you know what else this all is, it's the biggest distraction there is to the poison in our government. They want us, as a country, to be divided on it so that it lets them go and completely use us as a people. We have very little freedom in this country, we don't know how we've been sold out. Sold out. We're broke. We don't have much. Let's be fair about it. Let's be really honest. We don't have visionaries that we voted in there. Very few. We have nobody that's really willing to be honest about it. So yes, they want us to be divided on this issue because then that gives them the room to keep being deceitful. And isn't it interesting how we bought that big carrot. Because if people don't want to have an abortion, that has to be completely respected. If people want to adopt all those needy children that need homes, that's where the work should be done, let's save the ones that are on the planet. But that's what the issue's about. And women, you know, it's our bodies, we can ... you know how I am about that. We've been incubators for thousands of years. That's an incredible threat. But again, you know, women... it's such a deep issue. It goes beyond what it looks like on the surface. It always does. But I take it to the root on that one. What is this truly about? Those people have so much energy. It could be used to such a wonderful potential, if they would use it. Those people could do such an incredible service. Incredible service. They could really give life to children that are in the sewers. Trashed. Worms crawling on them. Nothing. I'm painting a bleak picture, I'm taking you to the furthest steps. Then there are some that just, you know, are in this country, have no home. That's where the service should be done. I get really tired of this moralistic crap. Because that's about them not looking at themselves.
Interviewer: I'm just saying, along with what you're saying, that whole, all the problems have to start at the individual level...
Tori: All the problems start at the individual level. All of them. The economy goes back to looking at yourself. You know, let's think about it. Could you imagine, first of all, the people that run the country, we don't see their faces, we don't know their names. We all know this, it doesn't take a genius to know this. We don't know, really, who they are. You know, I'm sure there's a list of the 500 most powerful men, maybe there's a woman in there somewhere, maybe they let one in, eh.
Interviewer: A token.
Tori: Yeah, a token.
Tori: And I think that if those people had to be stripped down to the basics of who they were, this would be a different place. It all goes back to dealing with yourself. Because when you do, your needs change. You don't look at things the same way. You move, you change your life. You call different things to you when you really start looking at yourself. It can be an incredibly painful process, and then you've gotta giggle. You've gotta have some moments of laughter in it or it'll just choke you to death. I mean, enough depression for one day. You know, I don't find my record depressing. There are moments of incredible acknowledgment of when I've been not true to myself, when I listened to everybody else. But I gotta take responsibility for that, so what? So what? Ok, I'm gonna move on from that.
Interviewer: Yeah, along with that... she's been everybody else's girl and you should be your own girl and... when you gonna love me the way I love you.
Tori: Yeah, well, Winter, I think, 'when you gonna love you as much as I do.'
Interviewer: Yeah. It seems like in a lot of them, it's because you've realised it and now you're coming back around to doing it, to being your own girl and, but you had to go through and a big process. It's not, well people might think, oh well, it's depressing, yeah, if they keep listening.
Tori: No, I don't see it as depressing at all. It's like looking at your life. You can't look at it as 'Oh god I've made so many mistakes.' You've gotta say 'Ok, I've had some real interesting highways. Some have had gravel on my road, I haven't had this smooth tar on my road. I've gone through some bridges that have broken a bit and I've had to, you know, pull the car across with a line on it so that it could barely make it across.' And I think that you can't be ashamed of your past. I mean, if we really got down to it, so what if you were Sven and did have babies on pikes when you were a Viking and terrorizing villages. I mean, you know, maybe you're even now not into that. You want to do something different. What, you're never gonna change?
Interviewer: All you would have to be ashamed of is if you didn't learn from those other things, you know, the past.
Tori: And then you're just completely unconscious so when I say that you're just numb and you're not thinking of your past as anything to learn from. The past is an incredible gift. So what if you were a bully? Ok, so what? So maybe you were an abuser. So, you know, you take responsibility, you look at it, you admit it, you accept that part of yourself, you acknowledge it. You don't run from it, you don't make excuses for it. You do it. And you don't keep wearing it like the letter 'A'. I'm not into that... no scarlet letters, though they're worn by so many people all the time. We really have an incredible hate for ourselves as a people. That's where it comes from. You don't, you're not gonna forgive yourself. We're so hard on ourselves.
And then you have the people who choose not to be hard on themselves but everybody else around them. But it's still... it comes from the same place. They just turn it around. They just, the pendulum swings the other way. And, you know, they put other people under their thumb and try and squash them. Squash the baby bird, so to speak. Cause theirs has been squashed.
Or they keep walking in and say, 'Squash me.' They don't say that, but it's... you feel like you don't deserve better so you stay in that situation where people just use you, really treat you... you're their whipping person. But then you have to ask, 'Do I keep giving them the whip to whip me with?' So that's in situations you find with your friends, you know. 'Why does this person keep treating me this way?' And it all goes back to just going, 'Where am I at with myself?'
Interviewer: Do you feel that people really pick up on these things that you're talking about that is in your music; I mean, it's been out for a while now in England, right, the album?
Interviewer: And when you talk to people who have been listening over there, do you think people really get it?
Tori: In the UK, I found a response that I didn't think I would, which was an incredible male population has come forth at the concerts. And they write about it, they talk to me about it when I'm, after a concert. They talk about their feelings of inadequacy. And their rage about it. And then they talk about how listening to the record just made them wanna be alone and look at some things and give themselves a good cry. Everybody needs a good cry, especially the guys, they need a serious good cry. Guys have it very hard right now. Very hard. It's a real unstable place to be. Because it's been acknowledged, finally, that women -- we have a serious place. And we do. But we're not gonna get anywhere by not acknowledging that the men do, too. That the environment does, that the animals, you know, everything. We're all part of this. I'm really big into this one. I mean, you know, you can't just say the cherry pie's great without the crust. Get over it. It's not cherry pie anymore.
And living in London has been, it's... British press really championed this record. And because they have, it's been a window for the rest of the world to be exposed to it. More than it would have been if I hadn't gone there. And they hadn't responded the way they had. So it's been, it's been... it's been an incredible few months playing live alone at the piano, where the songs came from. And I've been playing a lot of universities. I played Manchester and I played... that's one of the biggest there. I've done most all of them. And they're real thinkers, they talk about stuff. They yell things out in the concert and we have a little chat. And they know that they're the future. I want to play to them cause they're the future.
There's a bit of a numbness I find on a lot of campuses. Has been that way for awhile. Because it's not about an outward movement, it's an inward movement. But that doesn't mean you have to be, you know, dead. But there is a numbness. People are just starting to stir. And the hot spot's, to me, on a university campus. It's always been a place where ideas sprout from. Ideas can take on an incredible life of their own. And, my god, we need them to be aware, we need them to take come kind of stand. This is the time, now. I really think it's their, if you will... destiny. Nothing just happens. It's all there for a reason. The Earth is, I mean the next twenty years are pretty vital. And they are going to be in the position to turn it around. The ones, the college ones, the ones being born now, too, but really the ones coming up. And we need them. We need them to rise up and speak and express themselves because they have ideas that are gonna just certainly spin all of our heads around.
Interviewer: Do you feel that's the main part of your following there in England?
Tori: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The main following is coming from the colleges. But that's because they're into poetry, they're into the... they just don't wanna hear another... you know, another... I gotta, I'm not here to bash anybody else's music but 'Hold me tonight, make it ok' from another girl. Cause that's not what we're all about... as people. I guess there are moments for that, I don't know that much, I'm a bit more graphic. But I find that college students have been really open to what I'm talking about because it's an open place to be. On a campus, in the...
Interviewer: You're almost free from the constraints of the real world.
Tori: Well, they're away from the real world, that's why it can be so magical. They're not completely... every ear gets whispered in, once you walk off there. It's almost like a womb.
[transcribed by jason/yessaid]
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos