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Die Zeit (Germany)
November 11, 1999

[translated by Lars Wieneke]

I have a dream

by Tori Amos

Tori Amos: In the past it was the daydreams that worried me. As a ten-year-old I imagined I'd marry Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. I loved him immortally. Later I got to know him. As we were sitting in the studio eating our Indian fast food, he really asked me to marry him. He probably tells that to seven women a day. And I believe he thinks he is King Arthur. I rejected his offer. Last year I married my sound-mixer Mark.

When I sleep I have nightmares very often. I can already hear your readers saying: "I knew that. The way your songs are sounding you must really have horrible nightmares." Just like the one I'm describing in the song Black-Dove of my last album From The Choirgirl Hotel. I see a Black Dove. I see its face clearly. The dove is transparent. Like it is made of ice. I can see my hand through it. An auger goes through it and it is bleeding water. To get the same atmosphere musically I had to describe a scene of the movie Fargo to my musicians. A car is coming towards the camera from a long distance, very slowly. You know it will arrive in a moment. But you hope that this will never happen. My nightmares are so bad, that I mostly reject it when my friends want to take me to a cinema to watch a horror movie. Then I say: "No, thank you. I will dream in a few hours." Sometimes I feel like Hermann Hesses Steppenwolf.

The nightmares agonize me since my childhood. I am the daughter of a methodist preacher and as a child I was sexually abused by a friend of the family. I think that the nightmares are telling me things about me I need to know. And I try to understand what they mean. Maybe so I can get to know something more about my soul.

Sometimes I ask myself if I am really dreaming. Or if I have some evil twin, who does all these things I'm dreaming. But sometimes I also get visited by angels.

Some months ago, as I was working on my new double album in Bude in Cornwall, I had a really important dream. A voice appeared in my head. I call her my dark angel. She was a soul sister, who sang in my head. She was humming a melody to me. It was about half past five or six o'clock in the morning. I got out of bed and went over to the studio. In the country, the people there leave everything unlocked. So the studio was open. I went in and recorded the melody. From this melody the song A Thousand Oceans developed. I worked very long on it until it was finished.

Sometimes it takes an incredible amount of time for me to understand a song I have recorded. Because I am so much in it and I can't distance myself from it. Sometimes I don't really understand my songs until I go on tour and live with them. They are like girls for me that keep me accompanied. But sometimes I only understand my songs through the reactions of other people. This was the case with A Thousand Oceans. Mark had just lost his father. The two were very close, because Mark was an only-son. Before the death of my father-in-law they talked on the phone everyday. His father fooled us into believing he was getting better. He had cancer and some day he was just dead. It was a shock for Mark, because he had really believed it got better. They had already made plans for his father to come to visit us in the USA. He had never been there.

After the old man had died my relationship with Mark got very difficult. He was inconsolable. You can't do much for somebody who has lost the most important person in his life. I often held him in my arms and made long walks with him. I was just there for him a lot. But I never really got through to him. I still have my mother and my father so I didn't have the experience. I only reached him with A Thousand Oceans. After Mark heard the song, he always came to me, sat down next to the piano and said: "Please, play that song again." And I played it to him. Through that we got in contact once again. I took him back from that other galaxy he was in a million miles away from me. So that dream was very special to me. It renewed the connection between Mark and me.

The nightmares got a bit better recently. I found something that helped me. I had a really bad time, when I was awaking every morning a three o'clock bathed in sweat saying: "Oh no, not again." Then I began to light a candle in my sleeping room. That also works in hotel rooms. When I am together with Mark he is also lucky when the candle is burning because then he knows that he will get more sleep.

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