Rooting for My Baby / Three Babies Miley Cyrus / Sinéad O'Connor
May 7, 2014 - Dublin, Ireland
In view of the much-publicised Twitter spat between Cyrus and O'Connor, was Amos making a point?
"It was a way of integrating two great artists," she says. "When you have been in the business as long as Sinéad, you will see things with a different lens than a 20-year-old. I don't think any 20-year-old has the same outlook as a 40-something. You don't. I have a lot of time for Sinéad."
Does she have an opinion on Cyrus's foray into twerking? Some commentators regard it as sexist pandering. Others see a strong young woman seizing control of her career. "I've never met Miley. I think she is very talented. As an artist, you make your choices for all kind of reasons," Amos says, trailing into silence. "For, all kinds of reasons..." [Irish Examiner - June 2, 2014]
On the opening night of your tour this year, you covered these songs in one -- a Miley Cyrus cover and a Sinéad O'Connor cover. What was the intention behind this? It struck me that you covered two of their most maternal, nurturing songs.
You know, they're both great artists. It seemed to me that when you look at life from a certain age and have been in the music business, you're going to see it a certain way.
However, what I wanted to do was acknowledge both artists. That there is a place where both can have their power. Imagine jumping ahead and looking back on it in 20 years: you can see that Miley's video was very inspired by "Nothing Compares 2 U." That was the mother. And the mother was commenting to her creative offspring. But what I'd like to throw in is -- and Tash and I have these conversations all the time -- is that an overtly sexual path is wrought with complications. You're going to have to transcend that. Is it empowering? Miley is a great artist who's making a choice and being rewarded for that choice. Artistically, how she moves through it will be fascinating, because she's capable.
But what I would say is, if we as the public are going to look at this, we can't just look at one artist. It's in a lot of places, but we don't comment on certain artists. Why is that? Is it because we think they're great dancers, that they look a certain way, that their bodies are a certain way, we think that makes it OK?
Why this discussion is important is because we might not like something, we might think it looks desperate, we might not be inspired by it. But that's taste. You don't need to watch it and you don't need to feel sorry for someone else or talk about whether they're doing it for shock value to get attention. It isn't our path to walk someone else's path. All these artists are quite capable of walking the path they need to walk, but what we have to be careful of is singling one out.
But guys have had women in cages, contortionists on stage with them. These women were making, what, £700 a week back in the day, while the guys were making bank. Are we OK with that? Were we OK for women to be objects while the guys were making bank? Now the women are objectifying themselves and making bank, is that our issue? Because the men are out of control. And more women seem to have this issue! My question is: so, girls, we're fine when our sisters are contorting and bending over and having dildos on and up them on stage and making a basic salary -- but we're not OK when the women are profiting? You're fine when certain women are doing it, but not others?
If you're against all overt sexuality, that's your choice and you turn it off. But if you're going to put this issue under the microscope, you have to be neutral. Leave your personal taste out of it. That's not the point. I can tell you, if I looked like Beyoncé and Helen Mirren put together, I'd be sliding on a goddamn giant tongue. Maybe! Maybe not! But that's my choice. There are double standards. [The Quietus - June 19, 2014]
The mash up of Sinead O'Connor's "Three Babies" and Miley Cyrus' "Rooting For My Baby" you did was ingenious. Putting those two together after their highly publicized feud --
And I was in Ireland at the time.
But why did you pick those two songs and why did you decide to insert yourself in the middle of them?
It seemed like "Three Babies" wanted to come [and be played] in Ireland and yet there's usually a Tash [Amos' 13-year-old daughter] influence happening somewhere. She had been playing for me [sings] "Waiting for my baby..." -- she had been playing that for me as one of her favorite songs. I'm not allowed to look at certain Miley Cyrus videos. Tash makes me leave the room. It's my bedtime. She says, "This is porno, Mom! Get out!" And I say "What do you mean?" And she says, "No! I'm not letting you watch this." And I say "OK." Because that's kind of sweet -- if you think mom doesn't need to see that [and she's not taking into account my own songs with controversial sexual content like "Icicle" and all that was going on there], that's fine. And she thinks I need to be a mom now and she doesn't want me to see that. She wouldn't go to see "American Hustle" with me -- not that I knew what was going on -- but she said, "That's inappropriate, mom. Go with dad. I'm going with my friends." So my point is that this is one song and moment that she was sharing with me. She wasn't with me [at the concert in Ireland] -- I left her in London -- and I was missing her. And I was hearing "Three Babies" and [Tash is] my baby, but a song that had "baby" in it was the Miley song. Of course I understood what had happened [between Miley and Sinead] in the past and I thought This can still work. There can be a place where two great artists can be woven together if you treat them both with respect and without needing to defend either position. I just wanted to hold them together in a place of mutual respect.
And not have it be a joke.
It wasn't to me. It wasn't a joke. One song was so important to Tash and one song I've known since it came out. And it was me doing it without taking a side. Tash didn't take sides -- she wasn't interested in the feud -- but I found it fascinating when it happened. [The Huffington Post - July 14, 2014]
I've heard your covers this time out have included a mashup of Miley Cryus' "Rooting for My Baby" and Sinead O'Connor's "Three Babies"?
With Miley and Sinead, very important that they were together because it wasn't just about doing Miley. The statement was Miley and Sinead together 'cause Tash was listening to the Miley record and that's how I heard the song and I was in Ireland and I thought, "Right, Sinead, must be done." And then you kind of think, 'cause somebody asked me about this, and I just said, there's a place where great artists can live on the same stage maybe in a certain way. And it was done out of respect, if you see what I mean, it wasn't just look, "Let's be down with the kids and do Drake." There has to be reason for all this stuff...
What do you think of Miley Cyrus' controversial image makeover given you once breastfed a pig in the liner notes for your 1995 album Boys for Pele?
The question I've had to get to is our issue when the woman is quote-unquote "exploiting herself" and she's "the bank" (making the money) is that our problem? Because we don't seem to have problems when men exploit the women whether it's rap or rock and the men are making "bank." And this is where I've had to get to whether it's done artfully or not. I have no comment. Meaning, what I'm saying to you is, "It doesn't matter." As a feminist I have had to get to the questioning place because it's funny some people don't have issues if it's Beyonce doing it, nobody seems to have an issue, but that's because we're getting our issues confused. And maybe that's because you like her artform. [Canoe - August 6, 2014]
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