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Times Union (US)
Albany, New York, newspaper
Tuesday, April 5, 1994

[a longer version of this article appeared in The Free Lance-Star on April 14, 1994]

SONGWRITER'S WORK EXPLORES INNER SELF

By Mary Campbell, Associated Press

NEW YORK - Singer-songwriter-pianist Tori Amos, whose new "Under the Pink" album follows her first LP, "Little Earthquakes," says she feels like a pioneer, searching and gathering her inner territory. "I'm trying to find pieces of myself I've left scattered all over the place. I discover more all the time. There is so much to discover," she says.

"I feel like I'm in a wagon. I never knew over this hill I'd see 200 miles. I can't worry about getting to that hill. I've got to check this place out for a while."

Her first album has been described as "plaintive, piano-based ballads of abuse and betrayal." The new one is less victim-oriented and less stark. Her music can be ethereal. Her conversation, like her lyrics, slips out in images rather than flows like a succession of facts.

But there are facts. She was born in North Carolina, daughter of a Methodist minister. She started playing piano as a youngster and went to the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore from ages 5 to 11. She left because the school didn't approve of playing by ear.

Amos, who has a 250-date tour this year in the United States, Europe and Asia, composes mainly at the piano. She lives in London and recorded the new album on Indian land in New Mexico.

"I think 'Little Earthquakes' was really about looking at things I had to look at, my first door opening up to things I'd closed off since I was a little kid. I'd numbed parts of myself so they wouldn't get hurt." One song on that album was "Me and a Gun," about being raped.

"I have an amazing man in my life who has really helped me work through not equating sex with violence," Amos said.

After that album, which sold well, and the 14-month tour that followed its 1992 release, Amos wasn't in the mood to write songs right away. But a muse visited, with a message much like the mountain's.

"She has contact with me between my waking and sleeping world," Amos says. "She is my unconscious. She said, 'There are some babes here who want to talk to you. Willingly or unwillingly, some things need to be looked at by you now. You find you like being a victim; let's admit it. These girls are tools for you to see how you really behave. You need to deal with what you're hiding.'

"I said, 'When is this going to stop?'

"She said, 'Well, never. Why should you want it to?'

"All my songs are living thoughts. They have birth certificates. They're alive."

Some listeners find Amos' songs obscure, but she says themes are boring without magic.


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