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Elle (US)
March 1996

famous Amos: The thinking fan's Madonna

Here's an amusing example of casting against type: if Tori Amos could be any character on Gilligan's Island, she'd choose Mary Ann. Imagine - Amos, the thinking fan's Madonna, as the island Goody Two-Shoes.

"Mary Ann was a librarian in a sense," Amos explains, "and I'm the librarian with a heel." She raises a foot in the air to show off her sexy black pumps. "The librarian that's rebelled." "Rebel librarian" also epitomizes Amos's look today: a scraggly shock of Ginger-colored hair, a tight silver blouse and slinky skirt, both nearly hidden under an oversize pea-soup-green granny cardigan. Still, even the hideous sweater can't hide her eccentric flair; earlier, she parted a sea of suits - midtown yuppies filing into the restaurant of Manhattan's Four Seasons Hotel - turning heads and inspiring whispers.

Amos thrives on attention. During live performances, she straddles her piano bench like a lover and pounds out chilling songs about sexual and religious rape in her gloriously pained mezzo-soprano, even as her mom and dad (her father is an elderly Methodist minister) squirm in their seats. But her intensity onstage is nothing compared to a Tori tete-a-tete.

"The album is a journey," Amos says of her third and "most passionate" record, the eighteen-song epic Boys for Pele, so named for the ancient goddess of volcanoes (appropriately, it erupts with fiery emotions). "It's about bringing the demons home," she continues ominously, "the fragmented demons of my womanhood." Meaning that lyrically, despite her elegant piano arrangements as well as the addition of a harpsichord and seventy-five classical musicians, Boys for Pele doesn't fit into the "easy listening" category. In fact, it's the riskiest thing she's ever done.

"I felt like I was ready," says Amos, who produced the album herself. "It takes self-confidence to jump off a cliff - and I'm not thinking of suicide when I say that. I'm thinking that there's a little man down there with chardonnay and fifty Sherpas waiting to roast marshmallows."

J.H.P.


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