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Daily Press (US)
July 22, 1994
TORI TALKS WITH 'GOD'
LATEST HIT SINGLE ON 'UNDER THE PINK' SHAKING THINGS UP
By Sam McDonald, Daily Press
Ah, if only Jesse Helms and Tori Amos could spend some quality time
They could meet on neutral territory -- maybe a K&W Cafeteria -- and, over
cups of coffee, discuss just exactly why they tick each other off.
Of course Uncle Jesse doesn't hang with rock stars - even attractive,
piano-playing North Carolina natives such as Amos. And on the other hand,
Amos takes much too much pleasure in tweaking the religious right to submit
to any cease fire.
In a quick telephone conversation recently, Amos said she's ecstatic
that "God," the first single from her new album Under the Pink, became a
smash on alternative radio -- ruffling the feathers of more than a few
fundamentalists. "It's wonderful," she said. "It exposed a lot of kids to
my work ... And it's good shaking things up." The tune depicts a casual --
almost erotic -- relationship with the Almighty. "I just felt like God
needed some help, and I wasn't busy that weekend," Amos said.
Naturally, the song's themes won't be tackled in many Sunday school
Amos, 30, was born in North Carolina and spent time there with her
grandparents, who lived near Hickory. But she was insulated from the
conservative religious fervor of the region. "My experience there was
incredibly liberal," Amos said. Her grandparents, of Cherokee descent, gave
her a different set of values. "My poppa tried to get me to see the spirit
in all things," she said. And that perspective runs through her
songwriting. She said that she regrets that her grandfather died when she
was 9, before she reached puberty. Her Methodist minister father and his
family, meanwhile, saddled her with a legacy of sexual guilt, she said.
The fact that MTV embraced her video for "God," early on, is wonderful,
she said. "They reach such an audience, you want them to expose your work --
it's the most powerful station in America.
"And the video is really important, it taps into that goddess energy,"
Amos' songs are at once emotional, personal and spiritual. On Under the
Pink, she continues probing her own experience, and exploring the dark
corridors of her imagination. Like Kate Bush, whose work seems a foundation
for Amos', she describes complex inner scenarios in a dream-like,
Amos was a child prodigy, able to play piano before her third birthday.
Between the ages of 5 and 11, she trained at the Peabody Conservatory in
Baltimore. She left abruptly, refusing to give up playing by ear. Years
later, she worked performing standards in Washington and Baltimore hotel
After moving to Los Angeles in the 1980s, she recorded an album, Y Kant
Tori Read, with a heavy metal band. It flopped.
After a period of harsh self-evaluation, she started writing songs that
became 1992's Little Earthquakes, her first solo album. That record
brought her a mountain of acclaim and set the stage for her current
Little Earthquakes, also helped Amos exorcise some demons. "Me and a
Gun," a brutally vivid account of a rape, was an important step. She has
since become a founding member of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National
Network. That group has created a nationwide 24-hour toll-free hotline for
victims. The hotline's number will be announced this Sunday.
Amos said a new album won't come before 1996. But she said she's not
creatively tired. On the contrary, she seems to be soaring emotionally.
"You know those red shoes from The Wizard of Oz? I think I've found them
now, so I can go anywhere I want."
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