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Play (UK)
supplement in The Times, a UK newspaper
October 19, 2002

My cultural life: Tori Amos
Child's Play

The singer Tori Amos finds Mary Poppins as profound as Tracey Moffatt's photographs of emotionally abused teenagers


I never listen to music and I don't own a CD collection. The reason I stay away from pop is because I don't want to steal. Musicians should go to other art forms for inspiration instead, such as visual art. In that way you are constantly developing your own style instead of copying someone else's.

The only thing that I have been enjoying recently is the soundtrack to Mary Poppins. It is very good and will hold up for longer than most of the contemporary music in our charts. A Spoonful of Sugar is amazing. It says something very profound about the power of the song that it meant something to me as a child in 1965 and still means a lot to me today.


I adore musicals: The Sound of Music, West Side Story. They used to be my secret love. When I was in my twenties I never dreamt that I would still be watching Mary Poppins at 39, because you think that you have to reject childish things in order to find who you really are. But then I grew up, and discovered that it is okay - song and dance routines really do work. My husband and I stay at home a lot watching DVDs. He likes movies such as Casino, but I prefer stuff like The Usual Suspects. I enjoy suspense.


I have always loved Mission: Impossible. It is so stylish. And my husband has turned me on to The Avengers, too - we have it on DVD. The scoring is fantastic, the fashion is amazing, and it is a really strong piece of art.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Penguin, £1.25) is a book that I have returned to again and again throughout my life. However, my mother reading to me as a child was more of a cultural influence than any book. She is Eastern Cherokee Indian, so the storytelling tradition is a strong part of our family heritage. Nowadays, I read to my daughter, who is two. She adores Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Ladybird, £1.99). I am also reading Cherokee Animal Tales (Council Oak Books, £6.99) to her, although it is hard to know what goes in at that age.


I love Paris, obviously: the cafés, the cobbled streets. But I also have a thing about New Mexico in America. I first went there in 1992 to be with a guy and to write my album Under the Pink. I find it a mysterious and potent place, with a very strong Native American influence. And the architecture is gorgeous.


Manuel Alvarez Bravo is one of my favourite photographers. He hails from Mexico and his work was extremely powerful politically in the Thirties and Forties. He captures people's suffering with extraordinary compassion. I have some of his pictures on my piano, and they were a tremendous influence on my new album. My favourite is of a woman swathed in bandages. It represents both wounding and healing at the same time. I also love Tracey Moffatt's series Scarred for Life. She takes photographs of teenagers, then adds extraordinary captions. For example, she has one picture of a girl in a ballgown going to a high school prom. Underneath it says: "On the night of her school dance she asked her mother what she thought. She replied: 'You don't dress a pig unless you can eat it.'"

Pet hate

I can't stand horror movies with people getting body parts ripped off. I hate all the blood and gore. It is because I used to have bloodcurdling nightmares every night of my life. I don't any more, but that's between me and my shrink.

Tori Amos was interviewed by Amber Cowan. Her new single, A Sorta Fairytale, is out now on Epic; her album Scarlet's Walk is out on Monday.

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