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Orlando Sentinel (US)
Friday, April 1, 2005
In her memoir and album, Amos reveals a bit of herself
by Ed Condran
Special to the Sentinel
It's perfectly fitting for Tori Amos to release a memoir, Piece By Piece in conjunction with her latest disc, The Beekeeper, both dropped in February.
Each of the flame-haired singer-songwriter's albums are at least loosely autobiographical, and her latest effort is about as revealing as her behind-the-scenes look at herself as a person and as a performer, dealing with the shark-infested music industry. The quirky keyboardist, who has homes in Cornwall, England, and on Florida's Atlantic Coast, will showcase Piece By Piece Sunday at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. The North Carolina native, 41, recently took time during a 50-almond breakfast to discuss her work, fanatical fans and the Sunshine State.
Question: You're just having almonds for breakfast?
Answer: Almonds are great. There's no sugar, plenty of protein. If you go back to our ancient ancestors, they ate a lot of fruits and nuts. Maybe I was a squirrel in another life.
Q: So are ordinary people famous and are celebrities rodents in prior lives?
A: I don't know. All I'm asking for is a bushy tail. Like most women I have bad hair days.
Q: But your ardent fans adore your red hair almost as much as your songs.
A: My hair is a lie, but it's fine. I've been a redhead longer than I've almost been anything. But to me this is truly interesting: I think the people reading the Orlando Sentinel would rather read about a chat like this because people can relate to bad hair days more so than what I do backstage or the songwriting process. If you want to read about that, read the bloody book. You know what I mean?
Q: "Bloody?" You've lived in England long enough to use the term "bloody"? You're practically Madonna.
A: [Bleep] that! I am not practically Madonna! First of all I've lived there a lot longer than she has. And second of all I still have my American Southern mixed-continental speech.
Q: Why write a memoir at this point?
A: When Doubleday approached me I thought that it was a good idea. I decided to take them up on the opportunity, and I really enjoyed the experience. I wanted to give people a backstage pass into the music industry.
Q: The songs from The Beekeeper are divided up into groups, or as you label them "gardens." But there doesn't seem to be much of a connection with the songs/stories, which come across as their own entities.
A: Actually, they are their own entities. Each song is a short story. Each song is a poem. I've assembled a collection of short stories and poems, but they're happening around this one central character, this one woman. These [songs] are all of her relationships.
Q: Much of the imagery is biblical and sexual.
A: A lot of different things are explored. Spirituality is represented by the Virgin Mary in Christian mythology, and sexuality is represented by Mary Magdalene. What I find fascinating is that women who don't go to church, who didn't go to Bible school, feel this fragmentation, like they take on another personality when they have sex, that they're a different person when they're a mother. They don't feel that this is interrelated. These archetypes are a part of us. It's natural. The Beekeeper is about all of these different archetypes, and Tori steps into these different roles.
Q: The Beekeeper is one of your more uplifting, optimistic discs.
A: Yeah. I think the only way to combat war and depression for a nation is not to drown in the grief. We need to build bridges. The only way to combat destruction is to create, so with this album I went back to the creation story, which is in Genesis. The core of the record is original "sinsuality." With this album Tori visits God's mother and says, "What do we do about what's going on this time," and she says, "You need to eat the forbidden fruit, unlike my son suggested." What I'm exploring is not the garden of original sin but the garden of original sinsuality.
Q: How much of the year do you live in Florida?
A: More than people know. I want to keep it that way.
Q: Where do you live?
A: I'm in hurricane country. I live north of Jupiter. I love it in Florida. It's a beautiful state.
Q: Your fans can be a bit, ah, intense. What's the craziest thing one of your devoted followers has said to you?
A: (Longer pause.) 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.
Q: Is it true that when you were with Atlantic Records that you had a tantrum and locked yourself up in a closet?
A: 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 for lunch and put a little salt on it. I'll put my lip gloss on and go shopping. At the end of the day, I'm a lionness.
When: 8 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 W. Livingston St., Orlando.
Cost: $35.50 and $43.50.
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