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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
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
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 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.
"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
"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
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
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
"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,"
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
"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
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'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
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
PHOTOS BY: SANDRA C. DAVIS
t o r i p h o r i a
tori amos digital archive