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Hitkrant (the Netherlands)
March 12-19, 1994
TORI AMOS, THE WILD MINISTER'S DAUGHTER
"I am not strange, just honest"
by Wendy Parks & Edwin Gitsels
"I don't consider myself strange, just honest.
That's the way I am, I am very interested in the truth!" says Amos, the
red-haired expressive songstress, right now going through the charts with the
exquisite "Cornflake Girl." Tori is so honest, that every journalist who talks
to her thinks to come home with the story of his life. But then Tori is already
pouring her heart out to the next journalist.
Tori suddenly raised her head in the winter of 1991 in the always continuing
stream of new talent. She was noted for her songs, which formed a perfect
combination of original melodies and brutal lyrics. And when you're noted for
your songs, then you're noted for that precise thing which is in the music
world hopefully still the most important. You stand a chance of a great future.
This time even the critics were accordant with the audience: this is a unique
talent, one that comes along in maybe once a decade. Her album "Little
Earthquakes", released two years ago, was received with the kind of enthusiasm
which you only find in reviews of albums that later turn out to be classics. In
the mean time is sold like crazy all over the world. The single "Crucify" was
made a single and was a hit in lots of countries. A
video- version of the album, on which Tori plays her songs sitting behind the
piano with spreaded legs, left a deep impression to anyone seeing the visual
Tori, who keeps her age secret [this is not true] despite her honesty and
openheartedness, was born in a small village in the state North Carolina in the
United States. Her father was a minister in the Methodist Church. Little Tori,
who grew up with the music of Nat King Cole, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon,
turned out to be a real "wunderkind." She played the piano when she was two and a half
years old and wrote her first songs at four. "I was a
kind of special child with an exceptional feeling for rhythm," Tori
remembers. "I was invited to parties simply because
I could play the piano. It took me some time to find it out, but gradually I
realized that I'd found a calling in my life."
Because mom and dad Amos realized that too, they sent them to the highly
recommended Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She went there for six years,
but was thrown off at eleven, because of "irreconcilable difference of
opinion", was the official comment. But Tori could play so good now, that she
could be found during her teens in bars and hotels where she played famous
songs from old films and pieces of Gershwin and Cole Porter, and such famous
pre-war composers. Mid- '80s she started writing pop songs, which resulted in
her first album "Y Kant Tori Read" in 1988. The album, on which Tori was
presented like a pin up-like sex symbol by her record company, failed
painfully. But with its successor "Little Earthquakes" Tori took revenge and
indeed caused a few earthquakes in the music world in 1992.
"I started making 'Little Earthquakes' with a
bag full of memories and experience I had to get rid of," she says. "A lot of people have said to me about that record: 'I
know precisely what you mean, I understand exactly how you feel'. But it wasn't
over with that. Because of the success I lived in a fit, which I emerged from
after half a year. I realized then that I had even more to tell, and that's on
"Under the Pink" now.
"Under the Pink" is Tori's newly released album. Before that the single
"Cornflake Girl" was released, which became a radio favorite in no time, and
then became a big hit. The song was inspired by the book "Possessing the secret
of Joy" by writer Alice Walker. "That book deals
with women betraying each other," Tori explains. "You have the Cornflake girls and the Raisin girls and they are two
different beings. Cornflake girls are narrow-minded and full of prejudice,
whereas Raisin Girls are open to everything. My song is about someone who
turned from a Cornflake girl to a Raisin girl and think it a disillusion. It's
also about the idea that women are always the good ones and men the bad ones,
which is not always true."
If you can't understand a word of what she's saying it's not your fault.
Tori has rather farfetched ideas. That's no problem, but it leads to quotes
from her sensual mouth, which may make the sober reader laugh. A few
"I had weekly tea parties with God."
"All my songs are real beings. The labour wasn't easy. It came in waves, one song after another, like a religious experience."
"We are nothing more than walking plasm."
"This album is a self-healing experience to me."
"In 'Icicle' I try to regain the innocence of my childhood."
"I am just a little peanut, opening a minisculous window."
"When I heard 'Smells like Teen Spirit' for the first time I was really touched by it. The idea that boys also know this kind of pain!"
Pain is a key word in Tori's life. Her songs often sound tortured. Why is Tori
so hurt then? It was the strict upbringing of her deeply religious parents.
When her father once caught her with a friend in the bushes, she was 13 then,
he grabbed her away and dragged her along to home. For the umpteenth time her
parents said how deeply ashamed they were of Tori. And Tori didn't understand why,
she didn't have the feeling she did anything wrong. When she grew up and
realized her parents' thoughts were a result of their beliefs, she turned away
"I loathed their ideas on things," she
says. "According to them you may only feel passion
for God. But when you want a man, you're condemned to be a hooker."
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos