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WBCN, Boston (US, radio)
January 30, 1996
Tori Amos interview and live performance
songs: Blood Roses, Doughnut Song and Losing My Religion
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, WBCN Boston is very proud to give you Tori Amos.
Tori performs Blood Roses on an electric piano with this intro:
'cause I know
what you're thinking
I said, yes
stir it up
tell me that everything's
just not right...
Johnny: Tori Amos on WBCN. Ok, I can die now. Unbelievable. I'm a pretty emotional guy, so that kinda wrecks me. It'll take me awhile to recover.
Tori Amos: Yeah, wrecks me a little bit, too, actually.
Johnny: You seem really happy these days. Is that true?
Tori: I feel really free, you know? There's kinda like um, it's a bit weird. It's like Formula One racing. I'm not um, afraid of going anywhere. So if, even if it's kinda like, sad, I can go there and then I can go with really fast and it's kind of a new thing for me.
Johnny: What did you have to discover about yourself to get happy?
Tori: Um, that Sad wears these gorgeous high-heels, and you can hang out with her, and she's got some funny jokes, too. And once you get to know her, then you're totally free.
Johnny: You talk about Formula One. You're from Carolina where racing is big. But that's not Formula One, is it? That's a different sort of thing. How did you make the jump to Formula One, which is mostly a European thing, isn't it?
Tori: Schumaker. [giggles] Yeah. I like people that can do it well. I mean, it doesn't matter that I'm American. I'm just fascinated when people do a skill really well. And I like the way that he races a car, I think it's pretty fantastic. I mean, I love to drive fast, really fast. So when I get out in the desert, I go as fast as I can.
Johnny: Speaking about relationships and happiness, how important is a relationship to happiness, for you?
Tori: Oh god, um, I have a relationship with food right now.
Johnny: And what is that relationship?
Tori: Well, that...
Johnny: Is it an avoidance thing or you love to take it?
Tori: No, I love -- no, are you kidding? I'm not into um, if I put on some pounds, and a guy doesn't like me for that -- next. I'm interested in enjoying myself and I'm not gonna, you know, I'm not gonna have that wonderful experience; because I think food is so much like um, music, in a way. You have all these layers. And you gotta remember, though, I'm really lucky, I get to eat in the best restaurants all over the place. So, it's kinda neat.
Johnny: Is there anything else that a guy or a woman could do besides give you a hard time about eating that would immediately eliminate them from being your special someone?
Tori: If they want to defecate on women, I'm not interested.
Johnny: Can you explain what you mean by defecate?
Tori: Um, well defecate is defecate. There is the literal of defecation, which means plop on you or around you or in the vicinity of you, and then there's just um, kind of having no respect. I think um, I'm a real love-bunny. There is no way around that. And once I learned that, then it really eliminates a lot of guys that don't want to be with a love-bunny. I'm into monogamy, and I'm into being close, and I'm into intimacy, even if that last for a day. But it's about merging with somebody, And if they don't want to go into that place in the heart, then I'm totally bored. I'm not just into, you know, watching a defecating.
Johnny: Is it possible a man or a woman could almost be too introspective and become a pain in the ass? Has that ever happened?
Tori: Well, yeah, but I think that's where your sense of humor comes from. It's hard, when I do interviews and stuff, um, I get really nervous because it's not my medium. I'm much more comfortable when I'm playing and when I'm behind a piano. And I find that when I'm getting interviewed sometimes we get really, really serious. But I'm a hoot. I mean, I love having a good time. And I think living in Britain has been good for me because when things are even at their lowest, they can laugh. They have a really great sense of humor.
Johnny: One more thing about relationships -- after seeing you on television and reading the interviews and listening to your music, I know you like a good relationship, but is there ever a point where you resent the person you're having a relationship with because you love them so much? Because you come to depend on them for a lot of your happiness. Because you suck the passion and the fire out of them.
Tori: Yeah, there was a time when um, I looked to the men in my life. I think I was on a little bit of a boy-blood hunt, because I couldn't find my worth as a woman without them. And I don't know if that sounds strange, but the truth is, when I was behind my piano, I didn't need them. But when I got from behind it, it was like there was no person. If I wasn't the musician, there wasn't a person. So I think I lived through the men in my life and um, it just kinda fell to pieces, eventually. But once it fell to pieces, you know, I wasn't ready to give that up. I mean, as I said to somebody once, it was trying to match my lipstick to the dried blood in the corner of my mouth, you know, until I could get through this place of, "Hang on a minute, I'm sick of living through them. I have to find my own fire."
Johnny: Alright, I'm gonna shut up a moment and let you do another song, 'cause I love it. Tori Amos on WBCN, thank you.
Tori starts playing the keyboard...
Tori: [laughs] I've never put on headphones like this in my life. I had to put them on with my teeth, I'm sorry, 'cause my hand's busy.
Tori performs Doughnut Song.
Johnny: Tori Amos, WBCN, thank you. Thank you, very much. You know, as I sit there listening to you, I think about myself, in a way. And that way is that a lot of what I am is the result of overreaction to growing up in a small, tiny and boring town. I was so bored my teeth wobbled. And I'm wondering if you could share with us a few of your experiences that were life-shaping. One or two incidents that really had a great affect on what you are now.
Tori: Working in a gay bar when I was thirteen.
Johnny: And how did taht have an affect? What did that do for you? Open your eyes? Freedom?
Tori: Well, I was, you know, brought up in a real Christian household where, although my parents, I adore them and they're wonderful, the Mary Magdalene, that whole side of Christianity, she was definitely the whore and that was it -- next. And um, I was always fascinated by the passion side of woman. I was ready to go dance in the field with Robert Plant when I was six. So, I didn't really fit into the idea of um, what is a good Christian woman, because that's so controlled and so fragmented. Um, working in a gay bar, my god, these guys helped dress me, they showed me how to buy shoes, they um, when I made a fool of myself in front of boys at school or out on a date and I didn't know what to do -- 'cause you know, I was watching all these Bette Davis movies, but they didn't show a lot on, you know, what to do when you're sixteen. And so these guys coached me through everything. Um, and I think all the homophobia and everything that I sensed when people would come in the clubs and treat my friends different really affected me, big time.
Johnny: Do you suppose it's possible to be both a good Christian and a good woman?
Tori: No. [laughs] And I'm gonna tell you why.
Tori: Because a good Christian is, the whole idea of religion I find completely limiting. The idea of Christianity, they didn't pass down the female part of God, it has nothing to do with Goddess energy and the balance. It's not about that. And um, there's a lot of shame in the major religions. I'm much more -- my mother's part Native American -- and I really believe that unless the religions expand, um, they just won't serve the people anymore, because people are going to the well, to the source. Not to just a few thousand years ago, but where is it right to go into your unconscious and just be all these things. These programs that we were programmed with aren't serving anybody anymore. And um, I think it's much more about wholeness, the male and the female, and most religions don't honor that. So, to answer your question, I think that um, to be a whole woman -- whole -- I don't think that there is a religion that supports that right now, no, or a whole man, I don't believe that.
Johnny: How do you deal with forgiving your family for that damage that Christianity did to you? Have you been able to do that and if so, how did you do it?
Tori: We agree to disagree. And my parents are really becoming much more open-minded, it's fascinating. I talk to them quite a but, and they've really grown a lot in the last ten years. And that's what's exciting, that um, you know, if they would have been the way they are now, thirty years ago, um, who knows, I would have been, like I always said, I could have become a dentist. I don't know, it fueled me, that there was this oppression of the dance, of the passion of people, and the music made me feel like there was no shame.
Johnny: When you see your parents in the audience, and you do, and you sing what you sing, do you look at them? Do you look right in their eyes and see the effect that it has?
Tori: They're, to be honest with you, they're really um, thrilled about the fact that I'm a redhead and I'm fiery. They're really, they get a chuckle out of it, now. So, I think people think they're much more uncomfortable than they really are. There're only a few times when my dad gives me a bit of the hairy eyeball, you know, "how's your Jesus Christ been hanging," and those kinds of things. I mean, he's had a bit of a, we had to have a ten-minute chat about me having a cup of tea with Lucifer. And he and I had to go through it, um, from a theologian's standpoint.
Johnny: You know, they're off the hook, they did all they could do. So now, with the knowledge of that, they can sit back and enjoy who you are. They did their job, they tried to teach you, but now you're on your own, they did their job.
Tori: Yeah, but now they're my publishers. [laughs]
Johnny: You know, Carter Allen, music director here, told me that when your first album came out...
Tori: Oh, no! I know what you're gonna say!
Johnny: A guy used to call up and promote your album and say it was your dad! Is that true?
Tori: Yes, that's true.
Johnny: So even back then your dad was in your court, so to speak.
Tori: He's always wanted me to do what I wanted to do. Although we sometimes disagree on -- come on, he's, respect that he's a very Christian man, and he's a wonderful man, um, and we just see things a little differently about the affect that Christianity has had, namely um, hello, Native Americans, goodbye, Native Americans. Goodbye to a lot of things. And it's not that there weren't some truths in it and some good in it, but there are a lot of things that are very controlling and very dominating, and I don't get off on that on any level.
Johnny: One final thing -- has your huge talent ever been a burden? Is it always a blessing or have you just wished it would go away?
Tori: Not anymore. Because um, I just, the idea of not being a musician -- I think anybody who's been a musician should like, thank, I don't know, their karma, or thank somebody out there, because to be able to play an instrument, to be able to learn a language that, I don't care what country you're in, people can speak it. When I go to Italy, when I go to China, it doesn't matter what I'm saying, they feel it with the rhythm and the tone. And just as a musician, to be able to communicate with people like that.
Johnny: Ok. Before we go, each and every person in this room loves you very much and thank you all for coming in. I don't have any right to ask for another song, but if you have one in there, I'd love to hear it, and then we'll let you go. Thank you so much, Tori Amos.
Tori: This one just seems to be coming. My E-flat's sticking, so I need to play something that doesn't need E-flat. So let me think...
Tori performs Losing My Religion.
Johnny: What do you say? Thank you. WBCN. Thank you, Tori.
[transcribed by jason/yessaid]
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos