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Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
May 15, 1998
I lost my baby ... but she changed my life forever; Rebellious rocker Tori Amos tells us how her miscarriage inspired her to write and record another hit album.
By John Dingwall
She has already released million-selling albums about sex, rape and the break-up of a lengthy love affair.
Now Tori Amos has stormed the charts with an album straight from the heart - inspired by the loss of her unborn baby.
The preacher's daughter has never been afraid of meeting life's hardships head-on, with songs that make chart rival Alanis Morrissette sound like Celine Dion.
Her first album, Little Earthquakes, included a track called Me And My Gun - about a fan who raped her at gunpoint in the 1980s, when she gave him a lift home after one of her concerts.
And her ex-boyfriend, producer Eric Rosse, must have cringed when she dedicated her third album, Boys For Pele, to their split, including a batch of intimate songs about the time they spent together.
But it's her latest album, From The Choirgirl Hotel, that tackles the most sensitive subject matter so far - her miscarriage last year.
The album, which Tori and her husband, Lincolnshire-born sound engineer Mark Hawley, recorded in a converted 300-year-old Cornwall barn, was this week's highest new entry at number six in the album chart.
And Tori admits that it was very therapeutic for her to write about the harrowing real life events.
Songs such as the recent hit single Spark and Playboy Mommy deal with the tragic loss, when Tori was three months pregnant.
She revealed: "I finished the Boys for Pele tour at the end of 1996 and, surprisingly, I got pregnant with Mark's child.
"I had known from very early on, from within a week, that I was pregnant. So I lived with the feeling and got attached to the soul that was coming in. I had really gotten used to the idea of having a baby.
"And then, after almost three months, I miscarried. It was a great shock to me because I really thought I was out of the woods and I was really excited that I was going to be a mom."
Her excitement turned to despair, but she believes her marriage to Mark has become stronger after the ordeal they faced.
She said: "It wasn't a planned pregnancy, but Mark and I went through the miscarriage together and became better friends.
"I went through a lot of feelings. You question what is fair.
"I got angry with the spirit of my baby for not wanting to be born and kept asking myself why it had happened. It was a really difficult time."
She added: "The strange thing is, the love doesn't go away for this being, this unborn child that you've carried. You can't go back to being the person you were before you carried life.
"And although you're not a mother, either, but you still are connected to a force, a being.
"I was trying to find ways to keep that communication going, so the songs started coming.
"It was a girl, and that's why on the song Playboy Mommy, I sing `Don't judge me so harsh, little girl'. I was going through the anger and the sorrow when the songs started to come, without me really being aware, until they were coming to me in droves.
"I didn't intend to make another album so soon."
Tori met Mark while touring the world in 1996 [*], but the couple didn't notice each other until the tour was ending eight months later.
They were wed in secret by Tori's methodist minister father [**], Edison Amos, in the south of England, at the beginning of 1997.
Tori laughed: "I wanted the wedding to be real private, just our friends.
"I thought about having a judge marry us, but realised that it wouldn't mean anything to me. So in the end my dad got in on the act.
"But family is tricky. It's like the Waltons, my family - they'll all show up like critters crawling out from under the Appalachian mountains and be at your door with a banjo."
The part-Cherokee beauty admits her route to popularity hasn't been conventional. Her parents expected her to become a classical pianist.
She played piano as a two-year-old tot and was confirmed as a child prodigy when she won a scholarship, aged five, to the stuffy Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore
At 13, she won her first talent contest, scooping dollars 100 with her own song More Than Just A Friend.
As a teenager, she was voted the girl most likely to succeed in High School and was named the town's homecoming queen.
But her discovery of the rock scene turned Tori into a rebel with an axe to grind.
Despite regular bookings in cabaret clubs by the time she reached her mid-teens, she grew tired of singing cover versions from Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals and began to develop her own style.
She had already rebelled against her strictly-religious grandmother, who became a target of Tori's anger ... and soon she had moved to Los Angeles where she hung out with punks and formed her first band.
TORI said: "The problem with my grandmother and a lot of Christian women on the Calvinist side is all that finger-pointing and making people feel guilty."
Her first big break came when she turned 17 and changed her name from plain Myra Ellen Amos to Tori, finally telling her dad that he could give up on the idea that she would become a classical concert musician.
Tori recalled: "I was a big fan of Led Zepellin in my teenage years and there was nothing my Methodist minister father could do about it. He hated the idea, but had to get used to it."
Nowadays Tori is never afraid to confront controversial topics, making her one of the most original singer- songwriters of the 90s.
After selling eight million albums worldwide, she has established herself as an international star, despite the tough lyrics and angry piano-bashing.
But she denies her lyrics have been deliberately provocative for the sake of it.
"So my rebellion was not about shocking for shock's sake. Anybody can write lyrics that will get you banned from the radio. It's easy ... and boring."
She insisted: "I don't have to try in the least to shock people. My beliefs are sufficiently shocking, because we live in a culture where passion and sexuality have been replaced by shame.
"We are miles away from our hearts, our feelings. I grew up in dirt-poor hillbilly country. If you were a sensual woman, you were in league with that which is un-Christlike. My songs aren't just about me, either. That's a misconception. But I am the character in my songs so that I can identify with that person, even if it is the devil. That's the craft of songwriting. I'm not just a confessional songwriter.
"If Noel Gallagher and I saw the same thing happen, we'd write about it from a completely different perspective."
Last year, Tori topped the British charts for the first time with the single Professional Widow, thanks to an infectious dance mix by Armand Van Helden.
And fans can hear her continued change in musical direction when she returns to Scotland for a one-off Scottish show next Friday, at Glasgow's Clyde Auditorium.
The hippy chick has enlisted a full live band for the first time. Joining her on stage will be guitarist Steve Caton, drummer Matt Chamberlain, bassist Jon Evans and percussionist George Porter Jr. But Tori - who has homes in Cornwall and Ireland's County Cork Miami and Florida - wants her fans to know that she didn't write the songs on her new album to win sympathy.
She explained: "This is not a victim's record. It deals with sadness, but it's a passionate record, passionate for life, for the life force and a respect for the miracle of life. There's a deep love there."
She added: "This record got me through a real bad patch. But I can laugh with this record, and I can move my hips to this record, which is really good for me. It's very sensual, that's the rhythm.
"If you can't create physical life, you find a life force. If that's in music, that's in music.
"I started to find this deep, primitive rhythm, and I started to move to it. I held hands with sorrow, and I danced with her ... and we giggled a bit."
[*] Tori and Mark actually met at the beginning of the 1994 tour, when he was hired as the live sound engineer.
[**] Tori's dad did not perform the wedding ceremony.
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