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August 11, 2014

Tori Amos Shares Three Songs That Helped Shape Her Life

After 22 years of making records -- including her latest, Unrepentant Geraldines -- Tori Amos perhaps feels a bit reflective. When we asked her to share three favorite songs as part of Soundcheck's Pick Three series, the acclaimed singer-songwriter and pianist chose the theme "Life Itself." Amos delves into songs that have particularly affected her growing up. Her father, a reverend who had strict views about musical propriety in his family's household, might not have approved of the songs that Amos picked, but that didn't stop her from learning, internalizing, and treasuring these cuts.

Tori Amos's Pick Three

David Bowie, "Life On Mars" from Hunky Dory (1971)

"[My older brother] would bring records into the house that my dad wouldn't approve of. So they would come in, while my dad was at church, and he would play something, and play something, and play something so I could learn it at the piano, and then the record would mysteriously get back out the door. So by the time my dad came in from church, he would sit and read the paper and have me play my lessons. I would say, "I'm learning this song," never sing the words -- just hum it to your little self -- and then play a variation on the theme for dad."

Elton John, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975)

"I remember hearing this for the first time, and I ran to the piano to learn it. I just had to have it in my life. There was something about... [I] wanted to -- I don't know -- have in my DNA. It meant something so much to me. I didn't necessarily understand it. I didn't understand the subject matter, because I was young, but I understood the melodic arc."

The Beatles, "A Day In The Life" from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

"The Beatles were allowed in the house [growing up], for the most part. For instance, "Penny Lane" -- that was okay for [my father], the Reverend Edison Amos. He was alright with that. There were moments in the Beatles career that he kind of pulled away from. But this song had such an impression on me when I heard it, because of the orchestra, the arranging, the combination of the two very different structures that link themselves together."


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