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The Daily News of Los Angeles (US)
September 25, 1999
AMOS PUTS HERSELF IN 'VENUS' FRAME OF MIND
By Phillip Zonkel, Staff Writer
Tori Amos' emotions are as flaming as her red hair. Since her 1992 double-platinum debut, "Little Earthquakes," Amos has used her music as a public log charting her course through rough and blissful waters with raw and unbridled emotions.
She's had enough personal experiences to draw from -- a strict Methodist father, rebelling against Christianity, disappointment over presenting herself as a heavy-metal sex kitten in the late-'80s band Y Kant Tori Read, surviving a sexual assault, coping with a miscarriage, and celebrating a recent happy marriage.
But sometimes words aren't enough for the 35-year-old chanteuse.
"I don't get chills down my spine at a poetry reading; I get chills down my spine with music," says Amos, whose previous musical achievements included such highlights as playing piano at 2-1/2 years old, composing musical scores by 4 years old, and attending Baltimore's prestigious Peabody Conservatory from 5 to 11 years old. "When you put them together and you have the music that gives you chills and the words that crawl in and reveal your deepest secrets, you have a combination," says Amos.
That balance is alive and well on her fifth release, "To Venus and Back." It's a double CD -- one disc has live and rare selections from last year's "Plugged" tour and the other has 11 new studio tracks. Amos will play some "Venus" material tonight and Sunday at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, closing out her North American tour with Alanis Morissette.
"After I decided that the live album and rarity would be named 'To Venus and Back,' I started really going into the mythology of Venus," says Amos, referring to the Greek goddess of sensuality and strength. "I started having these pictures of me as this Thumbelina character in ridiculous high-heeled shoes on top of this camera, this Super 8, but on a satellite going around Venus' heart," says Amos. "It was almost like a dream seeing those pictures, then the songs started to come."
That process was achieved in typical, unorthodox Amos fashion.
"This is not just a work based on principles we know here on Earth," Amos says. "They have to be based on particles. I was drawn to all these books, one of my engineers was a physicist, and the language in all the lyrics started to fit into the laws of her plane."
The song, "Suede," describes that combination of earthly principles and spiritual particles. Amos sings, "My absorption lines, they are frayed and I fear. My fear is greater than my faith but I walk the missionary way. You always felt like suede. There are days when I'm your twin Peekaboo hiding underneath your skin. Jets are revving from an ether twist. Call me evil."
Besides singing about the dark side, Amos has been crusading against it. In 1994, the outspoken singer-songwriter founded R.A.I.N.N. (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 800-656-HOPE), the first national hotline for sexual abuse. During those five years, more than 276,000 callers have received counseling, but Amos says she's disappointed at society's lack of preventative measures.
"People have to have a driver's license to drive, I think you should have a license to be a parent," she says. "Meaning you have to take a course in school that says these are the signs of abuse; this is what you don't do to a child; you don't play with this; this isn't appropriate."
Amos also wants to take awareness a step further.
"Every school should have a mandatory lesson (on sexuality) and I don't mean what an inny and an outy is," she clarifies. "I'm talking about how to be a human being physically and sexually, and not become violent. Until you start teaching the psychology behind why people (are abusive), a generation never rises up and looks the monster in the eye, which could be in all of us.
"People don't want to understand that when you cross another person's physical space, there's a deep law broken, a sacredness, and what the psyche does and how the person can be shattered by this experience."
But some adults, who Amos says are on the front lines of defense, refuse to step up to their responsibility.
"Women have to understand that when they don't listen to their (children) or look at the signs (of sexual abuse), they're a part of it," she stresses. "They are a part of the problem, but they don't want to hear it."
Despite her preaching, audiences haven't turned a deaf ear to Amos' musical journey. Her trip to "Venus" is not only linear but also multidimensional.
"If you're going to approach Venus, (you're going to) go into the passion and the obsession and hallucination and seduction realms," Amos says.
"I couldn't take Venus one sided. I had to show all her sides."
The show: Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette.
When: 7:30 tonight and Sunday.
Where: Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine.
How much: Only lawn and terrace seating available, $ 25.
Information: Ticketmaster at (213) 840-3232.
For more information, www.ticketmaster.com
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