Dini: It said in the research that um, you started playing before you could walk, when you were about two-and-a-half. Do you remember finding the piano, do you remember that far back?
Tori: I remember finding it. It was this big black thing. Bigger than the um, Empire State Building, it seemed, 'cause you know, you're... I was really round but I wasn't very tall.
Dini: You were two-and-a-half.
Tori: And so I'd look up and I said, "I want to be friends with this... big thing."
Dini: You must have been, you were a child prodigy, a musical genius, I mean, you played, you were doing things, compositions at age four and five, a scholarship to the Peabody Conservatory, I mean, that's extraordinary.
Tori: Yeah, it was kind of different. I didn't know anything else but that. Something went awfully wrong, but um.
Dini: Something went wrong? I thought with you and the piano something must have gone extraordinarily right and perfect.
Tori: Well, it didn't go well at school. I was um, I didn't get along very well at the conservatory. I got in a lot of trouble.
Dini: They threw you out, didn't they?
Tori: Yeah, when I was eleven.
Dini: Because you wanted to...
Tori: Well, they had no expression. Everything was about, "We're in competition here, so we have to beat the competition, and you play Debussy like this." And I'm like, "How do you know how Debussy would like to hear this played? I mean, what do you know, he's eaten by worms."
Dini: Then you went off on an extraordinary journey, though, after that it said you spent several years playing in bars. I mean, you're very young and your father was there.
Tori: Oh yeah, he chaperoned me.
Dini: Now, how old were you when you were doing this?
Dini: What an extraordinary experience for you, night after night in bars playing Gershwin tunes for these people.
Tori: Well, gay bars, too, so they were hitting on my father, not me.
Dini: Besides the sexuality, just the lifestyle, the whole thing for you as a musician must have...
Tori: It was fantastic.
Dini: Yeah. Is that why you play with the style that you have, the way you sit is to play to the audience?
Tori: Well, they were out drinking, out here, right? And talking. And this guy was making out on this babe going, you know, "Will you go home with me?" And this other couple's going, "Well, are we gonna have pepperoni or just plain cheese." And I'm going, "I'm singing here!" So, it was like, instead of this, and they're over here, so I really had to... you know, you had to have a relationship with them, and that's what I did.
Dini: Extraordinary woman with obviously an extraordinary relationship with the piano. We have to take a break, but when we come back I'd like to know when you found your own voice and your own words, and we'll talk about that right after this.
Dini: Tori Amos, this is her album, -- all of these songs are by Tori Amos -- Little Earthquakes. This is an extraordinary lady who has a very passionate relationship with this piano. There's an intense love thing here. ...went to Los Angeles as a teenager, after all you've heard and said, "I'm not playing the piano, I refuse to play it." What, why?
Tori: Because I'd sent my songs out since I was thirteen, to record people, to say, "These are my babies," and they said, "You can't be serious about this. This girl-and-her-piano thing is never gonna happen." And after seven years I started to believe, "Well, maybe they're right." They said, "You know, get a band, do dance music, do metal music, do anything but what you're doing." And I listened to them.
Dini: The rejection finally got to you and you believed them so you stopped playing.
Dini: When did you find yourself again, when did you find your own voice, your own words?
Tori: When I did what everybody's opinion was and I fell on my face and they called me a bimbo in Billboard. Then I said, "Well, you know, if people are gonna call me things, at least I gotta have some self-respect for what I'm doing. Why am I doing this, why am I making music? To be approved of? No, I've gotta know if this feels right or not."
Dini: You went through a terrible experience, and I guess the only analogy I can make is to Eric Clapton's. He had a terrible tragedy and he wrote about it as sort of an exorcism, and you've done the same thing with this next song.
Dini: We're about to hear it. It's from the album, titled "Me and a Gun." This is sung a capella. It's a rather chilling account of a horrifying experience, a rape experience that happened six years ago. Tori Amos.
Tori sings "Me and a Gun"
Dini: Tori Amos, an extraordinary talent with her first solo album. It is called Little Earthquakes, it is going to make huge earthquakes. It's been such an honor to meet you.
Dini: I really enjoyed it. Thank you, you're an amazing talent. Much success.