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CosmoGirl (US)
October 2001

CosmoGIRL! Grooves With... Tori Amos

Get ready to make some room in your brain. this is a woman who thinks before she sings -- and we like that.

By Deborah Baer

A lot of you know about tori Amos and are already writing insightful poems of gratitude to us for running this story. But if you're not really familiar with her music or philosophies, this is a good place to get in on it! Tori, 38, who is known for writing songs about everything from religion to rape, decided to do something...different for her new album, Strange Little Girls. She re-made songs written by men (like Eminem and Joe Jackson). Then she made up a different female character for every song and was photographed as each for the album jacket. Mmm-hmm, that's deep -- but that's the way Tori always is. Check it out.

CG!: You're known for your own powerful lyrics, so why did you do an album of cover songs?

Tori: I wanted to go to some of the great poets of my generation, like Neil Young and Lou Reed, and crawl behind their eyes to see what they were thinking. I really felt like, as a songwriter, the only way to explore the power of the word was to use men's words. It fascinates me, the things men say and how women hear them. There are a lot of things being said by young guys that intrigued me.

CG!: Do you have an example?

Tori: There's stuff out there right now that really isn't happy with women. I believe in freedom of speech. but if you're saying stuff just to shock people, and if you don't believe in it? Then that is what I have an issue with. These guys were saying, "It's only words," and they talk about cutting women up and that kind of thing. We all can have a dark sense of humor. But there's just a place where I said, no,no, no. If you're going to say stuff, have the balls to stand by it. You can't sell a million records, then go, "Only kidding."

CG!: What's the overall theme of your album?

Tori: Strange Little Girls is about the power of the word. Words are like guns. I've never heard so many women being okay with being demeaned. I don't know if your readers' generation remembers when Gloria Steinem got up and started talking. I was a little girl in the late "60s, but I remember freedoms for women that were hard-won that are taken for granted now.

CG!: Are you referring to female pop stars having to practically walk around naked to make it big?

Tori: I love that we can choose whatever we want to wear. If you go back to "50s movies, it looked a little different -- but there has always been provocative dressing. And I got into that at a certain age too. no question -- I am not against that. There's just a lot of woman-bashing going on, and I think a lot of heterosexual men are threatened by the economic power of women. So they put women back into that " you're my bitch" mentality, where they're fighting each other to get male approval. It to me quite a while to figure out men can't tell me that I am cute or not.

CG!: What was your experience in high school?

Tori: In high school, I looked outside myself for approval. When you look to the opposite sex, it is game over -- you are in hell. And that's why, later in life, I took myself on a date. The male side, the animus, took the female side of me out. And I began to like myself as a female much more. Because the animus inside me saw things in my woman that some of the guys of the same age at the time were not looking at.

CG!: Like what?

Tori: Like ideas. It wasn't about how I fit into a pair of jeans. There had to be a balance about feeling good about my health and self- it's a holistic thing. But I didn't realize the sexiness of soul. Where's the investment of soul currency?

CG!: What's "soul currency"?

Tori: Women put a lot of energy into who their man is, what their job is, what stuff they've got. But what if you strip that back and try to understand that those are just things? I don't see a lot of time being put into secrets and shadows and things that live inside our souls - those treasures.

CG!: Did you really take yourself on a date?

Tori: I literally took myself out on a date. I took a walk on the beach and I think we even went out to dinner. i giggled. And if you can print this -- we made love.

CG!: Um...we just did.

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