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B-Side (US)
April/May 1994 (#44)

Tori Amos: In the Name of the Mother

by Sandra A. Garcia
photos by Sandra C. Davis

"When people say to me 'you know, this record just doesn't seem as intense as the other,' I am like..." as Tori Amos rapidly blinks her eyes in semi-jesting shock, exclaiming, "'Can I have the anesthesia now?'"

What happens when you release a startlingly brilliant album on an unsuspecting press and public? Tori Amos found herself shoved to the front of the class of '92, scuffing a line in the dirt with her toe as she eyed the opposition who began to huddle in the corner for their first strike.

With her new album Under the Pink, Tori's instantly caught in the harsh spotlight while the detractors who mistrusted her motives feel they'd better set her straight. How original: let's dust off those ludicrously over-worked Kate Bush comparisons! Let's also accuse Tori of being too dramatic and then decide Under the Pink isn't as intense as Little Earthquakes. Did we hear from the fringe element that has nothing better to do but complain about how she performs yet?

Time out. Don't worry, I am leading somewhere. First off, beyond the fact that they're both female performers with unique voices, comparing Tori Amos with Kate Bush is like comparing a sultry, full-blooded red rose ith a thorny stem to a sheltered British hot house lily. Tori's gotten her petals crushed and has suffered through some vicious, self-inflicted artistic blight (which only made her stronger), whereas cultivated Kate peers out from her greenhouse every few years then ducks back behind the ferns. They're really not even in the same garden.

Tori's also busy dodging the miserably misguided descriptions of being a weirdly flaky creature while singing about cornflake girls. But if you listen with both ears, you'll hear that Tori Amos isn't a cornflake girl... she's been hanging with the raisins. With damned good reason, too.

As far as intensity, with Under the Pink Tori is at once upping her own ante and challenging others to follow her meanings... she isn't laying her soul out on the table for mass consumption this time around. Oh no. We'll see how brave you are in a whole new way. This album is tensely tangled and even more dangerous than Little Earthquakes, closer to everyone's reality in a uniquely introspective way. And the seductive surface trappings are vibrantly intact: her searing siren's voice induces shudders of delight and those passionate piano messages still remain unconventional since, as Tori herself once put it, she's not a great player, but she understands the piano. Just try and teach that to the kids taking lessons in Omaha. And why not teach them how to sit like Tori while you're at it.

As we start this talk, Tori is alternating between relaxing and pacing. Getting up at four in the morning to perform for the folks on early morning news shows begins to drain the reserves. You have to answer their routine questions without yawning or, worse yet, laughing. We make unspoken rules: gratuitous male bashing, as fun as it can be, isn't allowed today. We certainly don't hate men. Much to the contrary, we respect them as fellow human beings, but we resent the stagnant system which honors the position that too many women have assumed for a few thousand years: staring at man's back as he leads the way. Step aside, friend, and let's explore together. Or we'll loose our eternal maternal patience and start pushing when we find a cliff...

Tori begins by confessing, "The important thing is for me is to try and communicate. These songs come from a place... all the songs do, they come from a place that changes the way I think. So if I am not focused when I am singing or talking about them, then... they made a deal with me. It's like you have a responsibility to not misinterpret us. If we're going to come to you, you have to respect us enough. I am like the interpreter. I don't see it as me. Maybe that's my..." as she pauses thoughtfully.

I have a bad habit of helping people. Safety valve?

Tori agrees with this, nodding, "Yeah. And because of my experiences growing up, and my musical vocabulary, it comes out in a different way then it would through someone else. I see everything as coming through a source. I am really open to that place. And when you're open, then it is easier to tap into than when you don't believe in it. I am trying to interpret as clearly as I can different emotions through me."

So does this mean that you can focus on that special source in any given situation and draw strength from it?

"I try. I have been doing this a very long time. And I haven't been recognized until the last couple of years. But I have been doing this a long time, but I misused it a lot. I misused the whole platform. So I know what it feels like to misuse it. I know what it makes me feel like inside, and I started to understand what the responsibility for being a songwriter and musician is right now. I feel like we represent the unconsciousness of what's happening with the mass conscious. So song writers, musicians, novelists... but not as much as musicians... they really touch on the emotions more than anything."

But time and time again I find that innovative musicians, even vocalists and lyricists, instantly back off from that "a" word. They are not willing to accept that they're artists with a creative point of view.

"Do they really?" Tori asks with surprise. "Or is it 'I don't want someone to think that I think I am an artist!' What has happened is there has been this real snobby judgment on what is considered art. Art is just expression. Sometimes there's a craft involved, sometimes there isn't. I have seen people do something that is so effecting and they're not aware of what they're doing. They just tap into that place that we were talking about. Then there are other people who know their craft really well, and they choke it to death. They can never get to that place of magic. Now, I try and work with both. You have access to both. We all deserve to be able to tap into it, it's not like a hierarchy here..."

It's not like you need that special "Source" gold card. Tori immediately grins, "Yeah. Like ID. No! But I think there has to be a reverence... not respect, because that means a judgment. Reverence is just reverence. For creativity. We don't have to take ourselves so seriously, but at the same time it is very serious..." Here Tori takes an extra long pause, and I keep my mouth shut until she muses, "When you put your ego in the right place, and I have mine, believe me, I have to deal with not getting competitive and the whole bit, because you do get thrown into that. This is the message that you're been taught growing up: that there is only room for one person to read their composition in school..."

Only one person can be the best, at the top, blue ribbon winner, gold medalist, ad nauseam. "That's right. And we're really, really taught that. And that keeps us from being a community, from supporting each other. There's not a lot of support among musicians. There is not," Tori annoyedly dismisses. "I don't know, we are really removed from cheering for each other, because everybody is protecting their territory. It saddens me, because we talk about having a unified planet, and we can't even be unified as a musical community.

"I usually get along best with the metal guys... the real, real subversives. I don't know, maybe it's because our paths don't cross much, but I think there's a passion there. A lot of the guy bands that are dealing with rage energy, I understand that, and have a lot of respect for what they are doing. I am trying to deal with it as well as other things. Rage is just one aspect."

Tori is good friends with Nine Inch Nail's ragin' Trent Reznor, who contributes moody backing vocals to the enigmatic 'Past the Mission.' The parallels between the two start to emerge with great precision when you focus on some of their subject matter. Tori remarks, "He comes from a very religious background, too."

Trent's the product of a strict religious upbringing in a small Pennsylvania town. Tori's the daughter of a Methodist minister... from North Carolina. But once past their similar targets, the two tempestuous keyboardists each attack their inner selves in different ways to arrive at their personal resolutions. Tori explains, "I go into a real vulnerable side of myself. That's where I am finding a lot of hidden stuff, as a woman afraid to be vulnerable, because I think I will be weak, thinking I'll be taken advantage of, thinking I won't know where to draw the line. But I am finding that vulnerability gives me great strength, because you're not hiding anymore!" she exclaims. "Think about it; you walk into a room, and you really don't need to pretend to know something! It's OK I don't know this stuff! When you stop needing things from the people in the room, you walk in a room very differently. When you need people to think you know what you are talking about, you're already minus ten!" she laughs.

You're already sliding down that inner judgment scale!

"Because you're not looking at what you need the people in the room to understand. Well, I want them to think I am intelligent... NO! Let them think anything they want! 'Do you know, Tori? Do you know where you stand with yourself?'" she inquires of herself. "It's really changing how you look outside of yourself. And on this record I am really trying to work a lot with... there are many layers to each work, to each piece. I'll just give you an example, like in 'Pretty Good Year.' It's funny because women don't seem to understand that song. I have guys coming up to me with tears running down their face going 'You know!' I know because I am Greg too," she explains in reference to the song's lyrics. "I know also because I have had to look at the way I have treated men. One thing that I do that a lot of women do, we've said get sensitive, get sensitive, but you need to be a provider, you need to be able to make me come a few times..."

You need to be able to knock out that guy who just insulted me on the street...

"You need to be very intelligent, creative, deep and spiritual..."

And be able to cook dinner to make me know you care...

"Yeah, right!" laughs Tori. "And you need to be able to dominate me and throw me against the wall and tell me you love me..."

But don't dare make me mad when you're doing it... it has to be done with just the right sensitivity.

"Right!" laughs Tori as we decide we've gotten the point across.

"Right now there are a lot of things that guys have to deal with, and deal with their feminine too, where it fits in. I got a letter from a boy in the north of England, he drew a picture of himself: a drooping flower with long hair, glasses, a real ill-looking grunge boy. The letter was what I heard over and over again, which was: 'who I thought I wanted to be, I am just not able to accomplish it. I don't know how I have run into this wall but I can't break through it. I just can't move from this stagnant place. I don't know what my purpose is, and I know I am not going to leave this town, and I am going to take my father's job... and I can't stand it.'

"So in 'Pretty Good Year,' I refuse to give pity. That was the main thing. Of course this was the worst year of his life; it's a tragedy, this song. Yet... it's like the worst thing you can give somebody is support for their pity," she murmurs.

"Now the other thing in this song is it made me look at when a man doesn't respect himself: how does that makes me feel? OK, we're patient. Let's be fair; we're patient for two, maybe three weeks. And then what happens? We're looking at the friend that's walkin' in the room with him," she smirks. "It's OK for us to be, 'oh, I'm laid off and I'm having a hard time and I am misunderstood and not given a chance,' but we get embarrassed [when it's a man]. I've studied this with women. If you're an exception, then you get the gold star," she mocks with an arch look that says she hasn't found many exceptions.

"But a lot of times it's more like oooo, gross. And it's painful to look at, because it's like 'why do I need a hero:' why do women need their men to be heroes instead of equals. We say we want equality: then let's stop making them heroes and make them equals. We want them to be more. We don't want to see their weaknesses. We don't want to see them shivering and puking on themselves. We do! We puke all over ourselves!

"But we have to be fair. We're not fair. We're real bitter, but we have to be fair, because we're not getting anywhere. We can drag them on their knees for the next thousand years. We've been drug behind them for how many thousands of years... yeah, we could get them back. But we're not doing anything: we're just becoming what they were. And they don't want to be that anymore, at least the ones that are waking up. And those are the ones who count, really, because it is them who are going to change the planet. You're always going to have your couch potatoes, but they don't effect anything; they just fart and take up space. They do pollute. But the people who are going to really make changes are open, they're out there!"

I try hard not to judge on gender: I judge on how horrible a person is to others. And there's a lot of women out there who are very good at being horrid. To everyone!

"That's right! Yeah. I try to be fair in my views: I try to give equal time," she smiles, neatly twisting the conversation to declare, "I went after the patriarchy and God this time: I figured we went after the son, let's go after the father. Next! I'm hungry," she grins, doubling her meaning as she selects a strawberry. "That whole song is about calling forth a Goddess, that's what it is all about. So I really do feel that we pull that energy forth on the record. It was very liberating for me to write 'God.' To be able to say, 'hang on a minute, buddy. Sit down here. You got to be held accountable.'

"Now this isn't my concept of what the great creator is. This is the concept of God, the institutional religion, whether it's Judaism, Christianity, Islam... and many other branches and offshoots, it's definitely been our heavenly father... he ain't lactating!" she jests.

"Some women have said to me 'I can't believe you've made God a woman' and it's like, 'OK genius, leave the room, think for five minutes, go over your history, come back in the room and you tell me who has been the pope for the past few years. You tell me who's been ruling institutional religion: males, patriarchy and a male God. The female Goddess who has been our role model has been the Virgin Mary, a sexless being. Now even though the Virgin Mary had kids later on, nobody wanted to talk about that when I was growing up, nobody wanted to talk about the Magdalene. Nobody wanted to talk about Mary's true role. And people don't really think about how that affected an entire planet, to have the most populated religion worshipping a sexless being!"

Especially when it was such a turn about from early religions of the Middle East where the Mother Goddess was worshiped as the life-giving ruler of creation. Women held the power until the myth of Adam and Eve was created with all its guilt-inducing nuances and suddenly the male-dominated religions made it the woman's fault that the human race lost paradise. Our ancestresses let them get away with upsetting the status quo and have paid for it ever since.

"It was like oh no, they're feeling a bit too powerful... that's divide and conquer. When you've divided a person within themselves, their spirit from their physical being, their emotional from their mental... we're all divided because of physical: it's bad. Lust and love... I get loads of letters from women who have a hard time: they can meet a man, and open up, and as soon as they start..." as she interrupts herself, declaring, "Now women who know women, it's different. But women with men, there's an incredible showing the Magdalene, then once they get to know them, there's camaraderie and love growing, then they start closing up intimately. Because making love is 'ooohhh, I don't know, maybe I'd rather read a book about people who are fucking instead!"' she laughs.

Those trashy romance novels are popular with many women!

"You wouldn't believe it! Thousands of letters, and I get told this by the people who read them. And I know what this feels like, as I went through it for years, trying to work through... wait a minute, I associate strangers with lust, and people who you become really good friends with, with love. Love doesn't have the passion. It has the emotional passion, but not the physical passion. We've really been made to think that love isn't a part of that. There is a very tricky line about that..."

It's easier not to deal with it at all.

"It's easier to move to the next relationship. But sometimes we're not asking ourselves maybe it's me. Sometimes it's not, there's just no chemistry there. But it is a thing with women, and the men don't have it as much. The men don't have the guilt," she stresses, punctuating by thudding her heels up on a chair.

Exactly. They seldom have that unique guilt about relationships. They are not taught it by society.

"And they don't understand, really, why we have it. They're like 'oh, it's Christian guilt' but they don't know. It's like 'yeah, talk to your great grandfather, buddy.' Go sprinkle condoms on his grave!" as Tori rises to wander over for another strawberry, returning to fix me with her steady gaze. "So I am trying to work through that. Singing 'God' was really empowering, the primitive, the seduction. Seducing God a bit was wonderful. He's great, he had a good time. He's smiling!" she laughs anew. "I mean look, it's about communicating with a force that you've been so controlled by, and saying I need to deal with this force."

One of my favorite annoying cliches: "it's God's will." Excuse me?

Sounds more like an abusive father if he's keeping creation in line with floods, plagues, fires, earthquakes and wars. So what, let's blame it all on Eve by page three of the Old Testament.

Tori declares, "People need to see God as they want to, then use the controlling boundaries, laid down the law when it suited them. Burn the witches when it suited them, make a women feel bad about herself when it suits you because maybe other women in the church are jealous of her... or a man who doesn't feel like he can get her, so he slanders her and makes her feel terrible.

"It was a very empowering thing to do that song, and all the other songs are just different emotions," she concludes, finally drained of words for a few seconds.

The song that speaks to me the strongest on Under The Pink is 'Yes Anastasia,' the chilling nine minute epic of piano and voice that slams the album shut with a beautifully heroic, tear inducing gesture. The entire album builds to that song and it's seemingly a summation to the points of the album.

Tori's been smiling like I might get that gold star. "It's a journey. Anastasia Romanov... it's not like I've read loads of books on her. I was aware of the family and that's about it. So I'm in Virginia, and I had crabs..." as she giggles, exclaiming, "I keep saying that! I had crab sickness, I had eaten bad crabs in Maryland! But I couldn't cancel the show. I was at soundcheck, and needless to say, when you are very, very ill, it is easier to communicate with your source... you are fragile and vulnerable. Well, her presence came. Now I have only heard of her in history, I've got no point to make. She comes and goes 'you've got to write my tune.' I 'go ohhh, now's not really a good time.' She says 'no, you've got to understand something from this, there's something here that you've got to come to terms with.' And that night came," as she softly sings the line "'We'll see how brave you are,' and that was really about the whole record. That came just about before everything. And whenever I sing that chorus, 'we'll see how brave you are,' it means so many different things to me. It's part of my self, my spirit self saying to the rest of myself, 'if you really want a challenge, just deal with yourself."'

I do get that gold star since that very line leapt out as the crux of the song. Ah, Tori, there your vocal inflection reaches out and touches the listener in such a wonderful way...

Tori just smiles again as I halt myself. Please, continue before I drool. "The funny thing is that Anna Anderson, who claimed to be Anastasia, died very close to where I was playing, an hour or so from there in the 80s. The feeling I got that Anna Anderson was Anastasia Romanov. She always tried to prove it and a lot of people believed her and some people didn't want to believe her, because of what that would have meant.

"And again, it's really working through being a victim. 'Counting the tears from ten thousand men, and gathered them all, but my feel are slipping.' You can't blame the men anymore; there's always you. It comes back to us; it comes back to me. "In 'Baker Baker,' not blaming... that's where gaining my power is coming from, being able to say I am the one who has not been able to be intimate, I'm the one who pushed him away."
It's being able to stop blaming everyone, which is a very difficult thing for many people to do. "Well, you know, they get nailed," she promises.

Granted, I certainly don't go around not blaming people: that wouldn't be any fun. We're not Goddesses! Tori laughs, "No. But once again, it's essential to go I can stay here dry for the rest of my life, and angry, and maybe that anger keeps me alive. But maybe I'm angry because I don't have love in mv life but I am the one who won't allow love in! There's almost a part of me that was addicted to being a victim. Those words are funny, addicted to being a victim," she whispers.

Those words conjure up many nasty images. "Yeah, really! But I would walk into a room and feel like I have every right to be here. It was like my badge, my purple heart. It makes you feel validated..." a long pause follows as she gazes upward, "so that other people can't make you feel like you're not worthy. You just look them in the eye and go 'you have no idea. And you have no idea what I have been through and... and... and...'" as Tori imitates going into semi-hysterical growls of anger. "Yeah, it's rough, every body has a story, some are more violent than others...

"There's a funny thing that happens coming out of violent situations... you either become warrior-like, and tough, or you keep turning it over, and pulling more people into your life to abuse you in funny ways. You make them not respect you. And you blame everybody else.

"I have women friends like that. It's been a very hard year and a half because some of the women friends and I could not communicate anymore. And it's not like I had all the right answers: I was slinging mud too. I know that. But when you're saying I gotta look at what my choices are not, and what I'm doing and not doing, what I'm not looking at. And do I not want to be bitter anymore or do I want to keep..."

This time I interrupt her. You definitely do keep some bitterness since you may need it someday. "That's right! And so when I really wanted to pull in freedom into my life: freedom from this experience, freedom from my Christianity experience, not being a product of my upbringing. Obviously there's still a part of that but I am tired of walking around being a reaction where anyone can push my button because I haven't dealt with what's making me react! Well, it's hard to hang with close friends who haven't dealt with it too, because a division happens. A few of them kept people in their lives that really treated them like dirt, and yet you try and say something about it and they turn on you, and then it spills over into arguments over things that are not really about what... you know what I am saying..." she gestures with an annoyed look.

I am a master of hauling emotional baggage from one argument to another just to be perverse. It's not a trait I admire. Tori grimly nods before continuing, "So 'Cornflake Girl,' 'The Waitress' and 'Bells for Her' add an underlying theme to the record... even with 'girls, what have we done to ourselves' in 'Anastasia' -- 'thought she'd deserved no less then she'd give, well happy birthday, her blood's on my hands.' You're not the cause of this person's unhappiness. And yet you seem to be the one standing there getting dumped on.

"I really started looking into these relationships between women, and how we treat each other. Originally 'Cornflake Girl' was influenced by Alice Walker's Possessing the Secret of Joy. The part in it that really nailed me was where the mothers take the daughters to the butchers to have their genitalia removed."

A collective wince fills the room. Ritual mutilation still exists in this day and age.

"Just reading that it's so... forget about the act for a minute and consider that your mother..." she breathes.

To think that the person you trust more then anyone in your life would do that...

Tori nods. "You trust them. And to think that a woman, whose been mutilated herself, to take you to become mutilated, she's been through it and this is all in the name of what's best for you."

We absorb this for a few seconds until Tori continues. "And it's not the fathers that take the girls, that's the thing. You see the lack of responsibility again. And the deepest betrayal. And again, we're talking about division. I'm not a shrink, but I do think there are common truths. And when your mother is saying one thing and yet it is the worst thing that can be done to your physical body, that has to be a genetic memory, that had to be passed down. When I read it, I was just raging..." as she curls her small fists and clutches them by her head. "This hadn't happened to me, I hadn't had this betrayal by my mother, yet the feeling of women doing this to women: I was truly in agony! And I understood what Alice was trying to do in writing it: it's we're not looking at how we betray each other and what our responsibility is. We have to look at is the hurt from that experience.

"But now it is in insidious ways. We're still doing it emotionally, and yet we're not looking at 'wait a minute, why are we hurting each other?' Competitiveness, and most of the time it's withholding, not being able to say 'you did a good job,' thus making another woman doubt herself by what you don't say."

It's so easy! Tori and I say this in complete unison, she exclaiming, "Oh it is!"

You see it all the time. And when it's happening you can never quite figure it out. If a man's downing you it's sexual harassment and the whole party line. But when a woman does it... "Yeah, right. And when we're good, we're really good. Some are just novices but," as she gives an evil smile, "but then there's the great whites... they're buttering your bread, and you're going 'oh, this croissant is just dripping with butter, it looks so good' and you put your hand out and suddenly you don't have a hand left! And that's rough if you are a piano player!" she suddenly laughs. "But yes, there can be such a web, such layers shrouded... there's so much stuff, and I'm just trying to get through my own stuff. When I can get through my own stuff and see where I'm at. It's much easier for all of us, and none of you are exempt here!" Tori exclaims directly into the tape recorder. "If we all just go OK, I am one of those too."

Admit that we've done that to another woman and enjoyed it. Especially if they do it to you first and you can't wait to get them back in some petty way. It's a tainted vision of empowerment.

Tori continues, "I am going, 'why do I feel the need to do this?' That's what I need to work out!"

What's been instilled into our psyche to make us want to do that to another woman? Where were we taught that one?

"Yeah! What am I not giving to myself? This is the crux of the biscuit. We are taught that we can't give everything to ourselves in order to be self-contained. And we cati! A relationship is not about that! That is about sharing! Sharing!"

And if you don't have anything inside to share...

"What are you going to bring to that party then?" Tori sarcastically asks in conclusion.

That's what I find so fascinating about this album: are people going to be able to read into the layers of "stuff?" That Tori even brings these issues up in her music confuses people, because it's not a taught thing and most people, especially women, will go 'what are you talking about: I'm not like that. 'Face it, sister!'

"It's really being a pioneer for myself, going into places where I am not being taught: I have to teach myself," Tori describes, now rising to return to her slow pacing. "I put it in the tunes, I put it out there. In 'Bells for Her,' the realization that this is not going to get resolved. Let's not pretend it's OK: it's not OK, but I have to be OK even when everything's not OK. I've got to accept that everyone's not gonna choose what I want them to choose, and let's take the next step: why do I need them to choose what I want them to choose? I wanted some of my friends to choose freedom, to choose empowerment. We talked about the word: this is empowerment, what we are talking about. To look in those places and own up!"

Clean out all that "stuff" we know all too well.

"Own up to the fact that you are so bitter that no one wants to get near you because you're a toxic release valve! I don't want to hear about your background that made you that way. Yes, I do want to hear about it, but at a certain point it's back to 'Pretty Good Year.'"

It's emotional passing the buck: I was treated like this therefore I will treat others like this. It's so prevalent in abuse cases: oh, he was an abused child therefore he's taking it out on some hapless ten year old. It takes a special strength of will to stop. "Although it's funny, when I was in Italy the men were saying this about Lorena Bobbit: 'when's it gonna stop?'" Tori's eyes dramatically widen as she snaps, "'What do you mean?' This is the only penis gone in America! It had to happen somewhere!"

The last time I looked there weren't hordes of women chasing men down the street with kitchen knives. Tori shakes her head, describing, "I was on this show, all Italian men on the panel: don't ask me how I got on a political show in Italy, it's a long story, but I'm there, and I have my translator there, and they say to me, 'What are your feelings on this?' They're all going how horrible it is and how could this happen and I said 'look guys, don't take this personally, but you have to remove yourself from the fact that you have a penis...'"

This causes sick laughter in the room. Tori continues, "And understand that women have been waiting for this for over two thousand years."

Yeah, waiting for the animals to actually be convicted for rape instead of being released to keep on raping. But there's all these inane talk shows going 'oh, will Lorena set a precedent?'

Tori hotly declares, "No! We're not that foolish! We have our own pleasures! We're not stupid! What people don't understand is the rape that's been going on so much... there's so much rape... so much mutilation... and this act was really representative of an anger that has needed to be expressed. Now every man should understand... but I don't think he can unless he's been raped.

"That represented for the mass consciousness, that one act, it's not about anything more then a release. It's a release of the deepest rage. If she would have been convicted, the women would have been marching. I mean the point is, and I said this, men might think twice before they do this to their wives."

The frightening thing is there are many women who can't accept what she did as a deep-rooted rage. She didn't kill him: that would have been so easy, for her to plunge that knife into his heart. But she took her rage out on the part of his body that she associated with her pain. Many women can't handle that principal and that confuses me.

Tori fixes me with a triumphant look, slowly declaring, "Do you know why, Sandra? Because they are cornflake girls. And there you have it! If anybody asks me what a cornflake girl is, there they are," she gestures. "They're wearing their flakes shamelessly. And again, there's that sense of betrayal. It's not the men that bug me, it's the women who don't understand. It goes back to they can't look at the rage inside themselves. They can't look at the part of them that also has violated other women. A lot of women... this is where it goes back to: Under The Pink, under the concept of woman. That's really what we are talking here."

Tori's pacing again, using her hands for emphasis as she goes into an intense summation of Under the Pink. "In 'God,' the strength of woman, the heartbreak that women: there is no resolve with some women. In 'Past the Mission,' desperately wanting to break free from being a victim and having Trent come, the raging man, but being very supportive of the woman. In 'Baker, Baker,' saying 'I am the one that hasn't been able to be intimate.' In 'The Wrong Band,' the hooker's saying 'I have a voice here that's worth believing. I got in over my head.'

"The consciousness is divided. You're either looking at who you are, or you're not. Yeah. 'The Waitress,' the rage, the betrayal. The whole 'you are not a woman, you are a lizard with a stolen pussy. You have no right to be a woman.' Then it's 'Tori, what right do you have to judge her?' Then it sums it up: 'but I believe in peace, bitch.' I mean that's really it. It's hanging onto your beliefs but one hand's on the neck and you're going 'three to five, three to five, I don't know, broomstick up the butt every day, I don't think I can do this...' get out of the room quick, she's not worth it. It's not your job. Why can't you just see that she doesn't get it?

"And when they are in a position, some of these women, to hurt other woman... it just... you want to rip their heads off," she snaps, pausing to take a sip of her water then continuing to pace. "'Cornflake Girl,' that's the initial betrayal, the whole seed of the division. Cornflakes and raisins: cereal. 'Icicle,' the little girl reclaiming her numb parts, her sexuality that was lost with her religion, 'Cloud on My Tongue' dealing with Eve... dealing with feeling inferior, that somebody else has something that you want."

Tori suddenly halts to stare at me, softly asking, "I don't know why I feel the need to tell you all this but I just do. Do you mind?" Not at all. I'm just watching the sparks fly.

She nods with a smile… "'Space Dog:' we've worshiped everything else, why not him? And of course 'Anastasia,' which is the final of the finale."

Quite a concise summation! But those rapid descriptions tell me Tori's definitely challenged herself as much as her audience. "It's been very hard: emotionally, it's been hard. It doesn't read like a diary like the first one. It's definitely reader participation. This is not about voyeurism. This is not about looking in. This is about you have to crawl into the painting and take yourself there," she sighs.

Under the Pink is a totally different type of exploration, more of a obstacle course of what you are discovering about yourself and other women. And on the live front, Tori knows this time it's going to be even more difficult. "With all of the songs together, all of the meanings change," she notes.

It's going to be a new experience but it's also going to be one amazing musical journey. And this time I'll take extra tissues.

Tori suddenly gives me a beautiful smile, declaring, "I am so glad you get it. It's thrilling to me that you understand what I tried to do on this."

Am I blushing? But people will have to grow with this one. Growth requires effort and the people who make it will be rewarded by the complexity of this album's music and emotions. Under the Pink's strong leap into the charts proves there's many clever raisins willing to work for their entertainment. Bravo. The cornflake girls of both sexes are going to be left in the bowl while the brave raisins take off with the emotional mental milk.

There's an inner mindset where the world is still Under The Pink. It's a warm thought. And guess who's number one on the charts there?

PAGE(S): 44-49, 63
PICTURES: 4 OF TORI + COVER PHOTO (WITH CAPTION: "the source of empowerment TORI AMOS")

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