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Revu (the Netherlands)
February 23, 2005
Amos still focuses on misery. A conversation with Her Eccentricity. Is she just trying to be interesting or is she really interesting?
by Roger Teeling
To the question if she ever returned to the place were she got raped, Tori Amos (41) closes her eyes. With a fist in front of her mouth she shakes her head. "No, no, no". Then she stares in the distance. "I don't need to go back. I know exactly what I will find there. I bear all the details with me. For years I've felt the presence of the seed. I've been in therapy for it. I've been writing songs to get rid of it. But it stayed in my body, dancing like a devil. You can use setbacks as a weapon, to get stronger. But you can also use them as excuse to weaken, to justify your abnormal behavior. When I was pregnant I started to think about the difference between unwanted and wanted invasions. My husband's seed was wanted. The baby that was conceived was wanted. I felt how the positive aspects of the sexual act pressed away the negatives and claimed every place in my body. That is why I sing, 'shame shame, time to leave me now, shame shame, you've had your fun.'"
Do you feel, dear reader, no shame but itch? Then you are not a Tori Amos lover - the singer/piano player who broke through with Little Earthquakes in 1992, her debut. Recently her 8th album came out, The Beekeeper. If the American did something in that time, it was dividing the world into advocates and opponents. It all started hopeful. With hits like Crucify and Silent All These Years Amos linked the mystic and fairytale elements of Kate Bush, with the unconventional (sorry not sure if this word is the right translation) hippie-idiom of Joni Mitchell and the society-critical of punk-poet Patti Smith. Besides that Amos attract attention because of her direct way of saying. For example: the beautiful thing about masturbate in front of a picture of Jesus Christ, and the terror of being raped with a gun on your temple. And everything autobiographical. Yes, the world had a new star. But thereafter Amos draw back in her own fairytale world more and more. Now her lyrics are puzzling. There is little use in asking for an explanation. Tori has had a conversation with the devil himself and is friends with fairies - she once said: "I don't trust people who don't believe in fairies." You can't have to count on a down to earth view. The book Piece by Piece will be released around the same time as The Beekeeper. It is a book written by Tori together with journalist Ann Powers. Every other artist would sell this as a biography. But Tori's is a dialog between two woman, talking about how to survive in the musical industry - as a singer, leader of the band, mother, victim and heroine. Well. Not from this earth, or a divine actress? Is she just trying to be interesting or is she really interesting? Of course her fans choose for the last thing. They throw themselves on the lyrics of every new song with their puzzle dictionary to find lots of wisdom in it. Meanwhile the rest of the world keeps their distance - getting knots out of your intestines is no longer insured by health insurance.
Tori Amos is a person that not everybody can relate to. Take for example 'shame, shame...' again. It is from her new song The Power of Orange Knickers. Very personal and interesting stuff. Still the rest of the song even with the explanation from Amos is abracadabra. In The Beekeeper Death comes to visit. "My mother had a heart attack last year," she tells while deeply sunken into the sofa, nipping her tea. "It looked like she was not going to make it. I saw Him coming into the room. He said: 'You know that one day I will come, and you know I don't negotiate.' That is why it was so remarkable that it looked like he was going to make an exception. He passed my mom. How could I know that he was coming for Michael, my brother, who died almost right after this in a car-accident." You didn't see the look in her eyes, just believe me: Amos acts nothing. She is affected. She doesn't vent her misery. Against this is the fact that she is one of the cofounders of RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) a network of emergency lines for victims of sexual abuse. It only looks like she can not share it in the language of the people.
It's something that's missed dearly. Especially since Amos is keeping herself busy with the state of the world. In her last album Scarlet's walk her message for the American people, after the 11th of September was: "It would have been wise to keep the solidarity, like it was then in the whole country. It would also be wise to see the continent as a living organism." What is true for America, is also true for Europe according to Amos, were she lives herself for a few years now (in England). The Beekeeper has the same theme for Europe as Scarlet's walk had for America. "We've lost overview " she says about this. "I've modeled this to the maintaining of a garden. We now plunder the world, which makes the supplies smaller and smaller, till there is nothing left - and then what? If we first sow and then harvest, then we could take what we've given every time. Then there is equilibrium. We have been busy with ourselves way too long. We are not really interested in what surrounds us. And do we feel satisfied? No. We've got everything, and still there is hunger, we do feel that something is missing. And just as in America we automatically blame the other." The one who eats the fruit of Tori's garden, will start to think about the nature of his relationships. The relationships he has with his partner, friends, mother Earth, and, and why not, the one he has with himself. "Who is to blame, is almost always ourselves."
Isn't it a shame that such an important message as this doesn't reach most of the people because it is so cryptic? Her Eccentricity doesn't mind this: "Let's say, I see myself as wine. I'll ripen in the basement and become more tasteful for the one who puts me to his lips. But you should get me out of the basement and pour me yourself."
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