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Haagsche Courant (the Netherlands)
Friday, January 28, 1994
[translated from Dutch by Marcel F G Rijs]
VULNERABILITY, PASSION AND A PINCH OF WITCHCRAFT
by Hans Piet
Tori Amos seems to have learned to cope with the sexual and social
traumas from her childhood days. Although...! On "Under the Pink",
the successor of "Little Earthquakes", which was released 2 years
ago, her trademark is still emotion. Though the listener must dig
a little deeper to connect to the material.
Tori Amos feels cold. She has just returned from a visit to a
flower market in Amsterdam, where she has posed for a photographer,
many times without a coat on. But she doesn't want to complain,
though it is January. Moreover, earlier this day she has eaten a
piece of the worlds most delicious applepie, a treat on which she
had to wait for almost two years. "I had either no time to get one
or the shop was already closed", she says with a smile.
The American musician (30), who convinced the public with the
lyrical beauty of the sensual sounding "Little earthquakes" two
years ago shivers. Still she declines my coat I offer her and
refuses my invitation to rub her hands kindly. Tori sits down on
the floor of the hotel room against the heating and uses the pot
tea, just brought in, to get her hands back on temperature.
The reason for this new visit is her third album "Under the pink",
on which she uses her unique talent for sometimes swinging,
sometimes fragile piano-compositions (decorated beautifully with
orchestra), which mostly ask an above-average power of notion of
The first single, "Cornflake Girl", a top ten hit in England in
only one week time, is an emotional story on a catchy melody on how
women cheat on eachother. The song was inspired by "Possessing the
Secret of Joy", a book by Alice Walker.
TO WAKE UP
"De big difference compared to "Earthquakes" is, that on my solo-
debut I had a choice of subjects which had been untouched for some
fifteen years, while "Under the Pink" tells about waking up every
day and dealing with problems of the day. It's a natural
continuation of "Silent all these years". After years of going
through life like an icequeen, I have learned to talk."
She pours a cup of weak tea, and continues cautiously: "...and so
this album was a different journey, a new experiment. To me, life
is one big experiment, which - if you look back - is divided in
different segments. You are always the same person, but become
richer and wiser through experiences, and through that you act
"I think that "Little Earthquakes" was more accessible because
everyone could embrace the subjects. This time one must dig deeper.
It's a next step toward adulthood. I think that for most people
it's easier to deal with babies than with children. They have an
own will! But I don't only ask more of the listener, but also of
myself. Because the more you know, the harder it gets".
She puts her hands before her eyes like blinders and
continues. "A broader view of the world means that less things stay
hidden. I used to see lots of things rather black and white.
Meanwhile, my life has become more grey. And so, good and bad begin
to blend into one. A sharp contradiction is not important to me
anymore. Getting your own right gets a different meaning, because
I may think that I'm right and the other may thing that she's
right, but what it comes down to is that we're both sick of it. And
the only way to get the problem out of the world is to talk to one
another about it."
"But it does mean that we must both be prepared to change. And
maybe I don't even want that or the problem is not in me, but in
someone or something else. Am I angry at someone who's absolutely
not to blame. Maybe the problem lies with the relationship I have
at that moment or with the way that I perceive myself, I don't want
to have any responsability or I didn't stand up for myself in the
past five years. You can hold on to your principles, but that does
mean you end up lonely, because there'll be no friends left for
"So there are a lot of shades of grey in my life now. I try to
weigh off the different points of view these days. For example, I
try to look differently to violence. That's an important subject to
me now. I felt so violent the last few years. Still I portray
myself in "The waitress" like a bird of peace. That's significant."
A silence falls, then she says with pain in her voice: "I felt so
deceived. People that I fully trusted have lied to me. Three songs
on "Under the Pink" tell about it: "Cornflake girl", in which I
describe the shock, "The Waitress", in which the violent side is
shown, and "Bells for her" in which the loss is described.
When I compliment Tori with this personal approach, she sounds
uncertain. "Do you think so?", she asks despaired. She goes on to
make a gesture as though she ript her heart out of her body. "This
kind of work sucks me empty. I don't complain, because in the end
it's me who choosed to do this. I write songs to express myself,
and as my world evolves around emotion, that's the red thread of my
work. That's what I'm interested in. It's not always easy. You must
be prepared to portray yourself as vulnerable", she says with a
soft voice. "Sometimes I don't want to. Then I shove the
composition aside to go on with it months later, when I do want
"I don't hide much, but sometimes people don't understand that I
talk about them. Then we sit in the same room and they haven't got
a clue. That's also the reason why I don't want to explain every
detail of my work."
Though Tori had to dig deeper, the successor of "Little
Earthquakes" came by itself. "I had no choice, really. The songs
just came. They seized me when I was going to a store. They said:
'Hey babe, it's time to talk about this or that subject'. Then I
would go home and sit behind the piano and the idea began to take
That Tori will have to convoke those emotions in her work during
her world tour - in april she'll be in Holland - bears her some
sorrow. "It's very important I'm very energetic when I start
touring. To use them on stage I will need all my strength to get
back to the passion I felt when writing the work. Moreover I must
have the will to show the vulnerable side."
If she'll find the strength, she doesn't know yet. Tori laughs and
says, only half serious, "Maybe I will when I use a pinch of
witchcraft". Then, soberly: "You have to do what you have to do.
You can't stop it. Then it's depending on the way you handle the
energy what kind of an evening it'll be. This makes every concert
different, just like the audience. I sense that when I leave the
hotel. They define which energy-rush will be used that night. That
I sit behind the piano like I don't want to know the instrument has
a reason. It's my way of involving the audience with the
relationship I have with it.
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