Silent All These Years
Tear in Your Hand
Whole Lotta Love
Smells Like Teen Spirit
interview (from May 1992)
Tori: I come to share, like a personal real personal secret together, and it's reciprocal. I get a lot back from that audience, I'm really, really dependent upon the crowd. Very dependent.
Leslie: Your songs are so personal. Are they the place where you get to express all the things that you've been working through?
Tori: That's how I usually know what I'm thinking about. I don't really know how I feel about something til I write it out. I get surprised sometimes how much I dislike something or somebody, you know, I'm smiling across the kitchen table and I write something that leads me to believe that I'd be hacking their head off if I could, but I don't hack people's heads off. It's really not my way.
Leslie: Thank goodness you use it to write songs.
Tori: I just write songs instead.
Leslie: Now, have you ever written a song uh and then gone back and found it too personal to share?
Tori: That's interesting. Um, sometimes, if it's also about somebody else, and it makes reference to them, and they're aware of what it is, because you know, when you're making reference to someone, sometimes they know. Sometimes I don't want certain people to know how I feel about them because, I, you make certain choices in your life. And I get shy about that stuff, see, the thing is, nobody knows names and numbers. They might speculate that it's about them but they don't really know. And especially when I look at them straight in the eye - they don't really know, and I get a good kick out of that. But when they do really know, it's a bit scary because he knows you have a crush on him and it's awful because...that kind of thing.
Leslie: Do you spend a lot of time analyzing yourself, really thinking about how you feel about things.
Tori: Yeah. But then I have fifty different personalities so we have many different viewpoints. I find that, um, it's very clear which part of my self wants to speak out about something, and they all have different perspectives on things.
Leslie: Do you feel sometimes when you've you've gone through something and then you write about it, or through the writing, you, you, go through something, and then you put it on an album or you perform it. Is it strange to have given it away?
Tori: I get really protective before I play it the first time in front of people. Um, I get naked, I get all those things, I feel exposed. But then I also get very protective and I am, I push myself into um, being brave, because I like sharing these songs. They kinda, they kinda want to meet other people, not just me, they get tired of hanging out with only man. Songwriting is always a trick because you can edit yourself out of its essence. You really have to tell your mind to go down to the pub and go get something to drink and you can sit there and argue yourself out til you end up week after week with torn pages and nothing accomplished because you don't even allow yourself to go exploring. And it's really like that, it's a trip down the Congo.
Tori: That's what it should be when you're writing.
Leslie: Literally down into the heart of darkness.
Tori: Yeah, I try and drive off the back of my tongue and get in there.
Leslie: Are the songs, all the songs in this album, Little Earthquakes, are they personal experiences for you or are they...?
Tori: Unfortunately, you thought.
Leslie: Well, I'm glad you worked through them.
Tori: Working through them. I mean, some of them I've I feel like I've passed through the other side on and others it's just a constant...the beginning is to, um, I think to really have a good time and and be able to giggle in your life and really giggle for real is when you're able to go into those sad places and say okay, this made me sad, this hurt me a bit, this really pissed me off, and when you can give that equal time, then your giggles aren't trying to find a laugh out of the worst joke in the evening because you need to giggle about something you can really be happy. I think people you know, I'll tell you something in one of the shows I don't remember what city it was recently, but I walked in and somebody in the dressing room, there was everybody's pictures and posters up, you know, um, they had Sarah McLachlan's up and what a beautiful picture of her, I think, she's really a wonderful and hers wasn't touched and I looked at my picture and they had this little sad frown with a little puppy dog nose that somebody had drawn on and I said, it's amazing to me that people think that I'm so desperately sad because when I'm sad, I'm really sad. But when I'm truly happy and when I'm off, when I've got my knife out and I'm having a good old time getting my digs in, um, I have a jar of honey right by the knife and it's really about balance. And um, I think it's pretty exciting when you're looking at yourself. It's, it's great.
Leslie: Why did you record Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit?
Tori: I thought it was really fun to do that, I first of all love that song, um, it's a really powerful song. Made me really, it brought out a lot of things I was very angry about, um, and I'm a piano player so I brought it to my medium.I think that that song is painful and um, it slices through, I guess this um, control minded side of our society that makes me really rebel, the ones that want to censor, the ones that want to um, hush you up, the ones that want you to be good girls and good boys. They don't even understand what that is now.
Leslie: Some people may view that as an incredibly opportunistic move recording this song that's at the height of popularity - what would you say to them?
Tori: Well, when I recorded this in England, I've had almost as much press as the Queen. So let's be really fair abou this. I mean I was pretty well known in the UK when I recorded that and I just did not record Nirvana, I recorded um, Led Zep cover, and a Rolling Stones cover. And um, people have happened to pick up on it. Also, I think, you know, the album speaks for itself that I've written, and um, I've been doing covers of bar talk and Mozart since I was two and a half so Nirvana's not in bad company I don't see the big deal. Plus, I also think that a piano player, an acoustic piano player has to break concepts - well, I do, anyway - I get really tired of, oh, that's really not nice, and um, really nice is not just acceeptable with me.
Leslie: I want to thank you very much for joining me.
Tori: Thanks, Leslie.
[transcribed by Kristen Loftis]
t o r i p h o r i a tori amos digital archive yessaid.com