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Entertainment Weekly (US)
December 9, 1994

Michael Stipe and Tori Amos Collaborate

When You're Strange

by Robert Seidenberg

With REM's Monster still high on the charts, Michael Stipe is already back in the studio, this time with pop chanteuse Tori Amos. The two are writing and recording a song (featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers Flea and Dave Navarro on bass and guitar) for the upcoming Johnny Depp/Marlon Brando movie, Don Juan DeMarco. If nothing else, in Amos, Stipe has met his match in obscure metaphors and loopy asides.

How did your collaboration come about?

Amos: We'd met a few times. Then Michael came to my show in Atlanta.

Stipe: I was completely mesmerized. And jealous. Seeing Tori made me want to perform again.

Amos: I think I'm Metallica. I play like them on piano.

Stipe: She doesn't play piano, she melds with it.

Are you enjoying working together?

Amos: With Michael it's almost like certain parts of my brain have been blown open. It's like you're in your own little buggy going gown a dirt road, then all of a sudden you're in a briar patch. You didn't know you could drive in the briar patch, but he's shown me that you can.

Stipe: It's like you wake up from a nap and a total stranger is standing there, saying don't stretch like that, stretch like this.

So no fights so far?

Stipe: No, we're on the same page. I mean, we both write with invisible ink. It's like the Name of the Rose. You gotta have lemon juice to be able to read it. But we're writing on the same page.

Amos: You kind of just dig the way each other smells, or you don't. I love the way he smells.

Stipe: It's like two satellites eclipsing each other.

Amos: And a bit of shoe trading.

Stipe: And lots of snake oil.

Have you used the film for inspiration?

Stipe: This has little or nothing to do with the movie.

Amos: We saw a three-minute trailer and said let's go eat.

Stipe: Then we went to an exhibit of Dorothea Lange photographs. These are the things that feed a lyric. Not the movie.

Amos: Basically, it was like, the movie had sand in it, which makes me think of Kashmir, which makes me think of Morocco, which makes me think of Robert Plant's promises that he hasn't fulfilled to me.

Stipe: Nor I.

Amos: But I've turned (Plant) down in marriage, so it makes me feel good (laughing). Anyway, sand, Kashmir, Morocco, spicy food, spicy yogurt.

Stipe: Unshaved.

Amos: That's been our motto through the whole thing: Spicy yogurt unshaved.

photo caption: Separated at birth: "I started to dance and hum this melody," says Amos. "Michael said, 'I like that.'"

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