Tori Amos: I was going through different name options for like a year and a half because I just knew that Myra Ellen, that's just like, wrong. And um, the tricky thing is, I don't know if-what year this was, but we were in that Dallas period. Well, I almost became Sammy Jay, if you can imagine. I just don't know what happened, I was just drawn to that name. But anyway, um, this friend of mine, Linda, comes with a boyfriend that she only dated for a couple days and, um, I'm like throwing Sammy Jay, you know, saying, Linda, I think I'm gonna be Sammy Jay, I'm feeling this. And she just looks at me and she goes, I want you to meet so and so. And he goes, you're Tori. I went, I am. Close call.
-Silent All These Years "...been saved again by the garbage truck..."
Gird Your Loins...
Tori Amos: My father was very committed to the word of God. I mean, he was just devoted to preaching the gospel. My grandmother - my dad's mother - it was all controlling and rules and rigid and you lived this way and you're a virgin when you get married and you give your body to the man you marry and give your soul to God and I go, what's left for me? I mean, you know - that was sort of the way it was. But um, she and I never got along too well because she decided that I didn't know how to love Jesus properly. Which is odd because I thought he was really cute. And I - I just remember being brought up with a lot of shame. You couldn't have really your spirituality and be this, um, sensual being. My father's favorite phrase was "gird your loins." (laughing) I mean every time, I mean I was just going to school with my lunch box, you know my David Cassidy one. It's like, "gird your loins, Myra Ellen." I was just going...hmmm, I'm seven.
-Jackie's Strength "...stickers licked on lunch boxes, worshipping David Cassidy..."
Friend Till The End...
Tori Amos: My memory of the piano, my very first memory was big, black and beautiful. It was one of those old upright's. Not the short ones, you know that have the little army haircut, but the ones with, like, the big afro. And I uh, I just fell in love with this instrument. I knew that when I saw the piano it was like, friend. Friend till the end. This being I can tell my secrets to and it totally agrees with me. An um, I needed a safe place because sometimes allies in a Christian house, you know if they get a little self righteous they can turn on you and then, you know, everyone is praying for you at the table and you're going ugghhh. You know, you're fuming because you're going why was I so stupid to tell them that I'm, like, masturbating. Why did I even do that?
-Icicle "...greeting the monster in our Easter dresses father says bow your head..."
Peabody Conservatory: Prodigies Only Need Apply...
Tori Amos: It's quite intimidating when you're 5 and there's a panel of people and uh, you have to run through your repertoire and you know that um...I mean obviously I've never been a competitive sports person but it's similar because you're just waiting for that Polish judge to go, you know, 5.2. I thought I was gonna come to a school and everybody was gonna, like, play songs and jam and I could meet some really cool kids and you know, the boys were 16 years old - which was totally right for me at 5, you know - and of course then I thought that what you did with 16 year old boys was play music, hold hands and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...that was love for me. But I realized that as I got accepted and as I went that it was very much about, um, training you to be a champion. But not on your terms, not as an individual necessarily. I really wanted to play the music I wanted to play and I wanted to be a composer. Um, because I knew, come on, you're walking down the hallways and you're going bloody hell, these people are 10 times better than I am and they're all playing the same song. So why am I even gonna waste my time - this piece is 23 pages. Do you realize, like, how many Scooby Doo episodes I'm gonna miss if I learn this?
-Cornflake Girl "...never was a cornflake girl thought that was a good solution..."
Susie's Piss Ant Song...
Tori Amos: I was always playing, but I think one time that was really hard and embarrassing to remember, there was some talent night at the Geyer's house. Yeah, they were our neighbors. And there was this girl, Susie Geyer, who I punched in the nose a couple of years before this prior because she had talked bad about my mother. She was 2 years older than I was and you know, she knew everything about everything. And she was very smart and very talented and all that. So talent night - the weird thing is, Susie comes out and plays this little piss ant song, you know, and the house just goes wild for her. I mean, just wild. And I'm going...you know, they've never gone wild for me like that and I'm up and down the piano, you know, tying my shoes behind my head (laughing) while I'm playing Mozart and stuff. So, guess what I did? I played her piece. But not as well, I mean, I'd only heard it through the doorway. Everybody was just standing there so embarrassed, but they didn't get that nothing I could do was ever enough. Ever. So I figured if I could play Susie's song that they all loved, that maybe it would be enough. And I just remember running as fast as I could from those people, from the piano, from Susie, from everything.
-Precious Things "...so I ran faster but it caught me here..."
Ground To A Halt...
Tori Amos: My poor dad when I lost my scholarship, I mean, I, I've never seen him so sad. He said well, what am I gonna do because you were doing so well when you were 5 and here you are at 13 and it's all just kind of ground to a halt. And he said, get dressed. Put on your sister's clothes and let's go. And we went to the "barroom" as he calls it and he got me a job that night.
Tori Amos: There was this woman named Terry who was a prostitute and she was, like, one of my favorite people. She would come and sit around the piano bar. And I think I remember her song, "As Time Goes By." She'd come in for like a double scotch or something in between tricks. She'd always leave me a tip. She's always put money in my tip jar and uh, and I - she didn't even have to say, you know, will you play it for me.
-As Time Goes By "...they still say I love you..."
Tori Amos: ...Then you'd say, "Hey, Miriam, get Terry another double Scotch." (laughs)
Tori Amos: Playing in bars, um, since I was 13 - at a certain point I'd taken it was far as I could. I mean, I just needed new influences. So, I went to L.A.
Tori Amos: oh I screwed up, sorry.
Y Kant Tori Sell...
Tori Amos: It's a funny thing, making a record and it dying a horrible death. Our music was quite different then what the album was because once we got signed, it was like, change this, change that and I didn't stand up for the band, I let it happen. I was doing it for the wrong reasons at that point. I'd just been told so many times that what I really wanted to do was never gonna happen and this girl and the piano thing...just forget about it. You know I'm not saying that girls with busteirs and spiked hair - I mean obviously some of them did really, really well. But I just couldn't pull it off. I just decided to try and take the piano to a place, for me, in the best way I could. And that's how the songs started to come for Little Earthquakes.
-Crucify "...every finger in the room is pointing at me I wanna spit in their faces..."
Tori Amos: I played Little Earthquakes to Doug Morris, who was the head of Atlantic Records at the time, and uh, he looked at me (laughing) and he said, "What is this? You did not give me Rocketman." And I'm like, "Well, of course I didn't give you Rocketman. Somebody already wrote that song."
-Crucify "...why do we crucify ourselves every day..."
Hi Tori, It's Robert...
Tori Amos: Something really clicked in me when I discovered Led Zeppelin. And you have to understand what that did for me because first of all, oh my God, besides the guitar playing, which was you know, I wanted to be Jimmy Page. That's what I really wanted to be. But I wanted to be with Robert Plant. Just the way he'd move his body and the sensuality. I mean, I just knew I had found the Goddess, that was it. And the highlight happened when I was in New York City and, I think, Johnny said to me, there's a phone call for you in the bathroom. Obviously, you know you have success when there are phones in the bathroom. So I toodled into the bathroom, I pick up the phone going, hi and he goes, Tori darling, it's Robert. I went, Robert? Robert from NBC? He goes, no darling. Robert Plant darling. I'm like - (deep breath) - and you know, I couldn't, like, scream and tell anybody so I looked at myself in the mirror - something I never do - and (whispers) Robert Plant is on the phone. And, I have to tell you, you know (makes whiskers with her fingers)... whiskers. It was just a real moment for me.
-Cornflake Girl "...this is not really happening. you bet your life it is..."
Jesus & Jimi...
Tori Amos: My father said to me, you know, what would you have written about if I had been a dentist? Which is fair enough. I think that having had so much Christian doctrine shoved down my throat, you know, some of it tasted good. Like I thought Jesus was sort of like Jimi Hendrix. You know, there is that comparison. He had these, um, really radical ideas for the time. But how, as I studied and I started to get books when I was 13 and really study. I said, Dad, why are we so controlled and why do we feel so much shame? This is not what this rebel was talking about. And as I started to study, I really opened myself up to a lot of different belief systems. My dad really wanted me to write religious music... and he go his wish I guess. (laughs)
-God "...do you need a woman to look after you..."
Like Slow Motion...
Tori Amos: After Boys For Pele, the tour, we were really excited cause I was pregnant and I was just gonna take time off. Time away from music, time away from what I've been doing my whole life and um, see what it feels like to be a mom. The morning that I lost the baby, it was - it was like slow motion. And everything was so out of my control. I remember going in with Mark and the nurse was so wonderful. And she said to me, let's just make this ok and see what's going on. Your music has really been there for me and I want to be there for you and let's go and within a couple...seconds I hear her cry and she said, I'm so sorry Tori, Mark, you've lost your baby. And in that moment, I don't know what happens - where souls go but I really realized the depth of love that I had for this little being. And thank God for music because I really uh, had a hard time taking the next step. And, like always, the songs seemed to find me.
-Spark "...she's convinced she could hold back a glacier but she couldn't keep baby alive..."
Tori Amos: I don't know where she is, this little being, this little spirit. But I feel her presence. And I feel her love and uh, you know the songs have become my babies, I guess.
-Jackie's Strength "...I pray for Jackie's strength make me laugh say you know..."
[transcribed by Caryn]
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