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Wisconsin State Journal (US)
March 27, 2003

Tori Amos Takes New Road
Madison Holds Special Place in her Life's Journey

by Rob Thomas

Tori Amos describes her seventh album, "Scarlet's Walk," as sort of a sonic road novel, following the footsteps of a fictional character named Scarlet as she travels post-Sept. 11 America.

In the CD packaging, there's a map of the United States, and each song is visually represented by a leg on Scarlet's journey.

Madison turns out to be the point at which the fourth song, Strange, ends and the fifth song, Carbon, begins. Amos, who is playing a sold-out show Friday at the Madison Civic Center, talked with Rhythm about the new album, touring with her 2-year-old daughter, Natashya Lorien, and just what place Madison holds on her personal map:

We're on the cusp of "Strange" and "Carbon" on your map. What does that mean exactly?

Personally, Madison has been a place where things changed in my life. We won't go into details, but on my personal map, I made a different life choice in Madison many years ago. It wasn't small. A certain kind of pattern in my life that I had with relationships, I just wasn't going to have anymore.

As long as we've gone this far - a boy said to me at a mixing desk: "So I just want to know one thing. Why do women conintunally go to the same guy, who's going to taste them, eat them, spit them out, leave them by the side of the road, move on, and then back the car up and then say 'Get in'? Why?" It was a good question, and I thought "I have to mill about this." So I walked the streets. It changed my life. And I married him eventually.

Can you really travel while you're touring, or is it more like a business-trip environment?

Sometimes you have to pick your moments. Like today, we went to Niagara Falls. It was blizzardy here, but Tash just decided she wanted to see the falls, so a few of us went. Being out there in the snow, it was exhilarating. But you have to make the trek, and you don't always feel like making the trek when you're doing three shows. Having a little kid on the road - she's 2 1/2 - forces me to do stuff I didn't have to do when I didn't. I would hang out with the band. Now they're on a different time frame than me. I'm up at 6:30 in the morning being a mommy. My day starts early. I end at 1 o'clock; once the show's done I have my after-show snack and then wind down about 1, and then I'm up at 6:30. Sometimes you want to get out, and she wants to see what's going on. It's a very different life than when you're on your own.

Is this a mother's album, do you think?

Or an album to a mother, to a real mother who is in big trouble. I think in a weird way, in order to be a mother to the next generation, Scarlet had to mother the spiritual mother, or there would be nothing left for the next generation. And the next generation would say: "Where were you? What did you do when America was at its crossroads? What did you do? Did you question? Did you stop being so selfish?" That's what this generation is saying. When will we stop being so arrogant? We're not above questioning. None of us are.

So, it's that moment that all of us have to question. Or by not questioning, we've made a choice, and there'll be consequences to that. I think Scarlet realizes that this is the turn in the road they talk about in the ancient mysteries. I go across the country and I see people asking questions like I've never seen, seeing the torch being lit, seeing people being pushed too far, with the letters I get and what I see, a pain of "Don't you drag my country through this belligerent hell." That's what I'm seeing, a shaking, a waking up.

Is that what kind of inspired you to look at America that way, as sort of a living being?

I was pregnant at the time, and I didn't realize it, but the seeds were coming. America was showing herself as a soul and in trouble, as I was getting ready to give birth to a little girl. So an ancient woman in trouble is coming to visit me as I was pregnant, while I was being visited by a little girl. I'm just the librarian mother, kind of dealing with these two forces, the birth of the young potential feminine, and the feminine that has been pummeled and misrepresented.

You can hold those two in either hand, and those were the threads that were weaving the story, and they're interdependent on each other. And Scarlet became any woman in my position, who bleeds and tries to ask the question. All the women on the record are America personified, or this child, in the end.

The idea is that her perspective changes because of the people in her life, and makes her look at things that she didn't want to look at, or wasn't ready to. But that's why we bring people into our lives. So the personal and the political are inseparable with Scarlet, because her beliefs are not separate from her love.

And I've hear people say that you're moving away from the personal stuff of your earlier albums to political stuff. But really, it's all on the same continuum.

It has more world issues involved. At 26, I was writing a diary. I wasn't writing about world issues. But once you've written your diary, then you've worked it out. You can look outside. And the narcissism goes, hopefully, as you approach 40. Or, God, you've not done something right.

Tori Amos
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Madison Civic Center
Tickets: the show is sold out


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