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World Cafe (US, radio)
WXPN, Philadelphia
April 24, 1992

Tori Amos interview and live performance
songs: Leather, Crucify, Silent All These Years


David Dye: Today we have our first piano guest. We are very happy to welcome Tori Amos. You may have heard her album Little Earthquakes or may have saw her on David Letterman a little while ago. But David said he'd let you come back and do the entire record?

Tori Amos: Yeah. I don't know if he means it or no, so we'll see. But how are you, David?

David: I'm well, I'm well, how are you?

Tori: I'm doing pretty well, playing tonight.

David: Yeah. Um, your, It seems like you're on tour forever you're from this side of the country.

Tori: Yeah, I'm playing, I think I'm playing every night, I say that every day, I'm playing tonight, it seems like I'm hungry.

David: Speaking of this instrument, this piano, you started out playing very young, did you always have a good relationship with this instrument, or did you become estranged at one point?

Tori: Yes, we've gone through many interesting dinners together. And at first we got along really wonderfully because I only loved to play, I was playing at 2 1/2. And then I started studying at the Peabody Conservatory when I was 5 and uh, then things got really confrontational with the people that I was studying with but I couldn't express myself with the kids because I was a mere student and the whole point being a classical pianist is you gotta read.

David: Yeah, you didn't read. And so you, I guess that's the only way to pick it up is at such a young age.

Tori: Yeah, and to take you the next stage they want you to learn to read but there is really I think a way that you have to teach a child, you don't take away the things that gives them that would be the impetus for the whole thing in the first place. But this was 1968 when this was a real different time.

David: Yeah, well, so now it would be different.

Tori: I think it would be different because more people are more aware of child psychology and their more aware of how children are people, they have their own thoughts and are very aware of what's going on and can actually tell us things that we'd never even dream of.

David: I'd like to get back to that cause a lot of your music, your lyrics, bring out a lot of things (unintelligible). There is a track you mentioned (unintelligible) you mentioned, Leather is there a story behind this.

Tori: This one of the ones on the record that was written in one sitting.

David: Is that uncommon?

Tori: That is uncommon. I always go back to cold pizza, the (unintelligible), the maps get through the body, it's almost like a chunk of clay, and you almost have to go back and mold it. But someone's gotten me so off, I have to go off and test it just this once.

David: Let's talk about sex. You have such a great way of being sexual in your music that it's not, sex has sacrament or something. It's such a wonderful experience.

Tori: Well, I'll tell you, sex has really taken many forms and steps and change in my life. I think that, um, growing up in a Christian home and even if you're not a minister's daughter you can really be influenced by guilt and shame and all those really fun things, and um, we have separated love and lust so much in our culture in the way that we're taught, even if it's subliminally taught, you'd be amazed at having dinner, and I've told people this so many times, that if you could be flammable, maggoty, if you be say the pepper on the spaghetti, then you could hear ten women at the table talking from all different backgrounds about how the good girl and the bad girl are divided, and I'm sure the men have their own conversations that I'm not privy to. But having many dinners alone with women, it always, it reiterates what I believe, so many of us are affects by this division which is lust and love and we think to be a mother to have a loving relationship with a man that we can't throw them against a wall and have this passionate, we think this mistress, we think of the affair, that has this elicit experience, it's not the one that you have with your best friend. How can you have both? We're taught we can't have both. And that really keeps us weak.

David: What you're describing sounds pretty damn healthy.

Tori: Incredibly healthy. But it's stripping to the fundamental places of childhood where you take on everybody else's beliefs. It's amazing how as a kid you're told things and they become your thoughts. Because some teacher told you or some adults, Maria Young, Linda's Sister, she's fifteen who gets all the guys - this is the authority!

David: (Mentioning Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Nirvana) Those things you play around the house?

Tori: Yeah, I play around the house. That's what I'm into around the house. I think that being an acoustic piano player, um, people have real concepts of what that should be and one of them is nice, that idea of nice and pleasing and you don't just pick up Metallica and do it at the piano.

David: You are a woman, I mean.

Tori: After all.

David: Um, here you are performing for me and I guess a couple others are listening in here. But you really are an expressive singer and a expressive player. What's it like playing live, how are you - are you playing for small audiences or theatres?

Tori: Well, it's in the States, and it's the first tour, and nobody's really heard of me.

David: Right.

Tori: I'm doing small venues this go round, and in the fall I hope to do a college tour.

David: Why I was interested in people's reactions to your songs cause you so close to the bone on some of your songs it must touch people in a way.

Tori: I tell you there's some interesting things about them, I walked out, I have, I won't tell you the places, but where it will be very hostile. Their walking out, their almost challenging to me to not be able to open up to them, because that means if I do, they just might have to. I've had nights like this, where you're going out there saying, "this will be a lot easier if we don't just want to come to the party." The most open people I've ever had to play to were the Scottish. Because you go up there, they're seen screaming from the seats, (Scottish accent) "Tori, we love you lots!"

David: That's great... You want to do the song I guess which was the introduction for a lot of us to you? Which was Silent All These Years?

Tori: Yeah, this is Silent and this is... is about a lot of things. I started it with this bumblebee riff. You know we all grew up playing... you know that bumblebee song? I decided that that song tortured me so I'm going to pay it back. [plays the album recording of Silent All These Years]

David: On the World Café our guest is Tori Amos with dissonances provided by that bumblebee. That's a wonderful song. So what are your plans? You're going to be playing tonight, tomorrow night, the next night?

Tori: Playing tonight, playing tomorrow night. I'm doing a tour in the States and then I go to Austral/Asia..

David: Have you been yet?

Tori: I've been to Hong Kong and Singapore but I've never been to where I'm going, which is Japan, and Australia, Korea and Taiwan. And then I go and do a European.... it's really exciting to see... I'm going to Iceland which I'm really thrilled about and Israel.

David: Iceland is supposed to be this perfect place...

Tori: I'm really ready for Iceland. Very ready... Go get lost with the seals...

David: Thank you for playing the piano, for inaugurating the piano here on the World Café.

Tori: Thanks, David.

[transcribed by Kristen Loftis]

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