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Little Earthquakes (US, VHS)
Tori Amos: I think the songs, they're almost like my teachers, really. I have to be willing to open that closet and be willing to bring out all my little party hats.
["Silent All These Years" video]
Tori Amos: Monsters are the best, most wonderful. Monsters are um, you know, it's like, "You gotta fight for your right to have a monster!"
["Leather" live in Rotterdam]
Tori Amos: As a performer, I work as a mirror. So whatever you're giving me, I give it back to you ten-fold. Because that's how mirrors can work. When all this love is coming to you, and all this projection is coming to you, and all this stuff is coming to you, what an audience really is doing is they want to give it to themselves. Performers do have this power. They can keep what you're giving them and not give it back. It's how you think. You can stop the wheel. You have to keep the wheel going, which is intake-outtake.
["Precious Things" live in New York]
Tori Amos: Being a minister's daughter means you get really good poppy seed cake at Christmastime and you get really wonderful dresses and things made by these really nice little old ladies. And you also get an incredible amount of confusion. But when you're fourteen years old and you don't know what your beliefs are, you're taking on everybody's beliefs around you and then you're making them yours. And I'm not about the institutionalized church at all.
Tori Amos: "Me and a Gun" is based on a personal experience and I wouldn't talk about it for seven years. I saw Thelma and Louise and it's like a door opened. And I began to open that door and free myself from being a victim in my head. You can carry that with you for the rest of your life, really, and I've smashed that.
["Me and a Gun" live TV appearance in Hong Kong]
["Little Earthquakes" live in New York]
Tori Amos: Adolescence and audiences kinda go together because I remember playing this song when I was twelve, for this boy. I'd written a song for this boy. And everybody knew in the school about it. And he threatened to beat me up if I played it. And it was gonna be in front of the whole school, you know, assemblies. His name was John. Well, you know, I had braces and pigtails and he was dating the girl, Sylvia -- you know, fourteen and should be on the front of a ship. One of those. And the point is, I sat there wetting my pants, I mean, my knees were water. He was sitting right there with all his cute friends. And, you know, what do you do? You're twelve years old and you have a crush on somebody and you really want to say, "You know, buddy, in fifteen years I'm not gonna have braces anymore and I'm not gonna have my knees like water, and I might be an interesting person and, you know, you shouldn't be so mean to me." But adolescence is that time when I think, it's the cruelest place on earth. It can really be heartless. And I played that song and everybody knew what was going on. Needless to say, he didn't beat me up. And he came up to me and said, "That was really better than I thought it was gonna be." And I haven't heard from him since. So, I think about that sometimes when I have to go play out in front of an audience and I go, "Well, my knees are weak and they're full like water."
Jesse Nash: Do you ever play the songs these days?
Tori Amos: No. No.
Tori Amos: Before I walk out onstage, I set my parameters for the room. It's kind of like a witch with her brew. I decide what I'm bringing to the party that night. And I bring different things with me in every city that I play. But I try and intune myself with the audience out there. And again, it's smelling what's cooking in the kitchen. It always comes back to, "A little garlic. She's got pudding in the oven." And then, once you know what that's all about, then you go, "We're gonna bring a little of this tonight."
["Happy Phantom" live in New York]
Erinn Williams: You said that the songs are like your teachers, they're like your children. But how do you choose which children to adopt and which children to hang onto?
Tori Amos: They decide. They decide where they want to go. Not all of them want the limelight. Not all of them want to come and be on the record. Some of them don't want to work as hard as others, you know. Some like to have holidays. So, they just show up. It's real obvious who wants to come. And there are certain ones -- lately, "Here. In My Head" just keeps wanting to show up. And it gets a new pair of shoes and decides it wants to go out, so I have been playing it more than even some of the songs that are on the album. It shows up and nothing else can get in when they show up. It's kind of like, you know, when you have to have an enchilada, you just have to have one.
["Here. In My Head" live in New York]
Tori Amos: We all get intimidated by showing ourselves. For whatever reason we think, "If I really show who I am and, you know, somebody goes 'thppt,' then it's gonna crush me. Well, it's not gonna crush me. It doesn't crush you if somebody does that. Somebody will do that. Many times. And once you accept that that's not why you're doing it. You're doing it because that's your form of expression.
Tori Amos: This one song that I just, I love singing it, is "Song for Eric." And it's a capella, so my hands don't know what to do with themselves when I'm singing it. But I always think about... you know, you have a memory of something and you can't quite put your finger on what it is, you just feel it in your belly. And "Song for Eric" reminds me of a different time, something that isn't in this time. And I go there.
["Song for Eric" live in Rotterdam]
Tori Amos: I don't play for races or religions. You know, I'm into fairies.
Music Videos: directed by Cindy Palmano.
Live Performances: "Precious Things," "Little Earthquakes," "Happy Phantom" and "Here. In My Head" from April 20, 1992, at The Bottom Line in New York, provided by ABC In Concert. "Leather" and "Song for Eric" from June 14, 1992, at Nighttown in Rotterdam, provided by VPRO, The Netherlands. "Me and a Gun" provided by MTV Asia.
[see also: Little Earthquakes VHS - Press Release - October 7, 1992]
[see also: ABC In Concert - June 19, 1992]
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tori amos digital archive