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Melody Maker (UK)
May 28, 1994


TORI AMOS talks about records that stop her feeling like a wimp

1 MARVIN GAYE: "Mercy Mercy Me"
"DRIVING music. This is great to drive to in the convertible, with the top down, on the Pacific Coast Highway. Sunday afternoon, 80 degrees, car full of girls. You've got your sunscreen on your nose because you don't want skin cancer but, other than that, shoulders are bare, no sunscreen. You put on Marvin Gaye and it's a beautiful day. Every time I hear Marvin Gaye I just wanna drink lemonade. It reminds me of summer in the South, when soul music was huge. It brings back memories, this voice that can see things other people couldn't. And he was so sensuous. You feel like there's honey going down your throat when you hear him".

2 RICKIE LEE JONES: "Last Chance Texaco"
"A GREAT song. Like, perfect. I wish I'd written it. She used all these references to driving -diesel and gas levers- all these words that really don't mean what they mean, because it's not about driving at all. It's about desire, love. This record went everywhere with me. I would have put it in my lunch box if I could've fit it in".

3 LED ZEPPELIN: "Thank You"
"Of course there's a Led Zeppelin track, of course. Always, for ever and amen. Led Zeppelin are four of the 12 disciples, they just got it wrong in the picture. When I was 10, in 1973, I used to go round to my friend Emily's house and we used to go down to the basement and listen to Led Zep and look at Playgirl magazines. We were educating ourselves because nobody else was educating us. We felt so stupid. Do you know what it's like to be a girl and have blood running down your legs and think that you're dying, just because no one's told you that's what happens? It's horrible. So we mutinied, we decided mothers were the enemy and we were gonna educate ourselves".

4 THE BEATLES: "A Day In The Life"
"FROM what I heard there were two separate songs here. John wrote the 'I read the news today' bit and Paul wrote the 'Get up, get out of bed' bit, and George Martin cut them both together. I love that idea and it got me experimenting. When you write a song you're always thinking about building another movement to join things, you do it subconsciously and it's hard not to slip things in. But to put together two pieces that have nothing to do with each other, now that's a departure".

5 THE PRETENDERS: "Tattooed Love Boys"
WE all wanted to be Chrissie Hynde, me and all my friends. I mean, how cool was she? 'Do it, do it, do it on the pavement'. That first record changed everything, changed the way people perceived female singers too. She was the real McCoy. 'He show me what my hole was for'. I mean, gimme a break. You know when you're 13 and you like 18-year-old boys and they treat you like crap? We'd go, 'Chrissie will come and kick your ass. F*** you, she'd eat you for breakfast and you be crawling'. She was a champion for us, because we were wimps".

6 STEVIE WONDER: "Living For The City"
"MAYBE it's because I've been to so many of those dinners down South where you get biscuits and grits and gravy. Stevie comes on and you think to yourself, 'I'm never gonna get out of this place. I'm going to be in this dinner forever'. I mean, I'm very tenacious. I knew I would get out, even if I was 40, I'd get to California where everyone knew they had to go. But sometimes you feel desperate and Stevie reminds me of that. Stevie was amazing, though, because his rhythmic ability coupled with his melodic ability has never been surpassed. A lot of people have one without the other. Very rarely do they have both".

7 THE CURE: "Love Song"
"WHENEVER a relationship of mine is falling apart I hear this song, usually on the radio. The relationship's falling apart and I'm contemplating doing something very naughty and on it comes going, 'I will always love you, whatever words I say' and I get all sad and weepy and want to get back together with the person I'm with. There's something about this song. I wish some guy had written it for me. I write all these songs for guys. God, I sound all pouty. I don't mean to whinge, I hate whingers. But no one's ever written anything for me. They just go, 'Write me something, babe'".

8 WIRE: "12XU"
"IT'S a punk thing my piano tuner plays before he tunes my piano. 'Saw you kissing a boy in a mag, 12XU, da da da da da'. I have no idea what this means but my piano tuner loves it and I like that. Piano tuners are normally like, 'Hi I'm Mr Thomas'. The formality kills me. It is kind of cute, I guess, but really they're a breed apart and I don't think they really appreciate the piano. It's technical to them, they don't think of the piano as a living, breathing instrument, it's very impersonal. But this piano tuner, he adores my piano. He stands there with his Walkman on and kind of pets the piano, strokes it and plays '12XU'. It's excellent. I watch him from the wings".

9 JANIS JOPLIN: "Take Another Piece Of My Heart"
"WHO else could drink all that whisky and sing like that? For 25 years the guys have tried but they still can't touch her. Sorry, next player on the Jeopardy game. I'd love to sound like her, but I sound like the Little Mermaid half the time. Also, I love the idea that Janis was treated like some dog, at school they all said she was ugly, but she turned out to be so beautiful. Look at the old films, how could you fail to get excited by passion like that? Honestly sometimes you guys go for the stalest, most boring babes. They have bone structure, but that's it. It'd be more exciting f***ing asparagus. Janis, though, that was real passion".

10 STEELY DAN: "Do It Again"
"I REMEMBER when I was 12 there was this girl called Wendy who was 14 and beautiful and we idolised her. She split that summer, ran off to find Bruce Springsteen. In her mind he'd written "Born To Run" about the two of them. I felt like doing something like that a lot, even when I was really young. I heard this Steely Dan track when I was at the Peabody Institute and I knew I was missing something because they weren't teaching us this. I was really young but I was still thinking, 'Where are these people who experiment like this? Where do they live, and do they have a spare bed and a Teddy Bear'"?

original article

[scan by Sakre Heinze]

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