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Cleveland Free Times (US)
weekly newspaper
August 13-19, 2003

SOUNDCHECK
TORI AMOS
Singer-Songwriter


After the release of her third album, 1996's Boys for Pele, Tori Amos shifted gears. It was the start of a period in which Amos experimented with abstract arrangements. Some of Amos' rabid fan base abandoned the challenging singer-pianist, longing for the classic song structure that she delivered on her first two albums, 1992's acclaimed Little Earthquakes and 1994's Under the Pink. Amos' latest album, Scarlet's Walk, feels like a follow-up to Pink. The disc features warm, melodic work and follows a woman's personal journey, coming off like a sonic novel. The quirky but charming Amos spoke to us via phone from a Phoenix, Arizona tour stop. - Ed Condran

How's Phoenix?

Wonderful. I was born in 100-degree weather. I'm most comfortable in the very, very hot. I have a beach house in Florida, where I like to go in July. I'm a bit of an oddball. I'm a lizard lady.

If that's so, how come Ray Manzarek didn't tap you to handle the vocals for the Door's tour?

That's funny. No, that wouldn't be the right thing to do.

You don't think you could handle those songs?

I could handle them just fine. That would be too obvious. At the end of the day, the Lizard King was so great at what he did. He was really tied into his mythology. He loved his Rimbaud. What I find interesting is that he wasn't separate from what he believed. I don't know much about him.

It sounds like you know everything about him.

I don't but there is a different kind of awareness happening now - but you probably won't find it on the Door's tour.

What are you talking about?

There is a generation which is rising, and I'm not talking about age. People are questioning things after the attacks on 9/11. Native Americans came up to visit me after the 11th with a very important message. They said Americans have to protect the soul of the country and they weren't talking about those who have an agenda, which is pimping her out. That had a huge effect on me.

What's the strangest gift you received from a fan?

I have to let go of the tattoos.

Do you mean the tattoos fans have of your image?

Yeah. I had to let go if it. People project their relationships with the songs in a certain manner. By the end of the day I'm a librarian. At the beginning, you get seduced by [fame]. It's a lot to deal with. Some woman are 98 percent Aphrodite. I'm sure you met some of them. They will eat you alive. What I've come to terms with is that the fans are tapping into an archetype. They're pushing me into that mother role. That's a bit much.

Your fans can be a bit, ah, intense. What's the craziest thing one of your devoted followers has said to you?

Some people have said that they are reincarnated. They're coming back to give me a message. Men who have said this tell me that they had a sex change.

Do you ever check out some of the crazy Tori fan websites?

I threw my Mac out the window years ago.

There was one website that went on about how you have orgasms while you play the piano.

How do they know what I'm doing? That's my point to you. If I didn't love the music I wouldn't do this. Fortunately, I don't think there is a better drug out there than what I do. Do your vitamins, Viagra or vodka. There is no greater drug out there. Patti Smith believed that. Jim Morrison believed that.

Is it true that when you were with Atlantic Records that you had a tantrum and locked yourself up in a closet?

Well, I don't like to go into detail. I keep a lot of things private, but I've always said I like things to be done graciously. I like to settle our differences at a table over a nice cup of green tea, but if it can't happen that way then I'll go for your jugular and have your blood with a little salt on it for lunch. I'll put my lip gloss on and go shopping. At the end of the day, I'm a lioness.

One of the most "out there" visuals was the photo of you suckling a pig.

That was of the time. That was my Christmas card. My dad kept saying, "Why don't you do a nice Christmas card for Jesus?" I said, "Not a problem. I'll do it for all Protestants around the globe." I asked my Dad, "When is Christianity going to realize that what is not kosher has to be fed?" He looked at me and asked what I was talking about. I just sent him my postcard.


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