songs | interviews | photos | tours | boots | press releases | timeline

Tori talks about 9-11

After the Twins went down, it was a time the masks were down for people, and people were asking questions that they haven't asked in a while. I was asking questions. So we hit the road, it was the most logical thing for us to do; I've been doing it for so long, it's where I find some of my answers. So we went out, and the road trip is part of my life, and the songs started coming. [ - September 23, 2002]

America truly came alive for many people on that day. For Native Americans, she has always been alive, and they were caretakers of her. There was a respect that it was a spirit, the Earth Mother. So when it became clear how violated people were feeling after we'd been attacked, I started thinking also about the violation of the Native Americans. They were invaded, too, if you really want to parallel it. Back then, a way of life was taken away from an aboriginal people. Treaties were broken. Many people were running from persecution by those people supposedly seeking freedom.

So what parallels did you draw from these two events?

You have to take it historically - the transgressions as well as the wisdom. You get the wisdom if you own up to the transgresssions. People now have to ask themselves again: How do I want to lead my life? If tomorrow doesn't come, who do I want to call today? What is the path that I want to walk? When I traveled after 9/11, there was an alertness, an awakening - there wasn't this entitlement to tomorrow, which I thought was really, really incredible for a lot of people. And there was a beautiful sort of humanness. [Women Who Rock - Fall 2002]

So what was your experience on September 11?

I was in New York City, promoting the last record. Being in the group, in the place where that's happening, you can smell that burning, that smell of wounding, of many people and a being and a land and an ideology... in deep pain. Everywhere you turn it's almost like you're walking through the center of her wound. I was in and out of the city a lot. I wanted to see my baby, who was down in Florida, but at the same time you didn't want to leave New York. It was almost as if you needed to keep a vigil for her, if you could. If you hadn't lost somebody personally, you needed to be there to hold a space, to light a candle, to bring the bandages - not the physical bandages, the emotional bandages.

Did you find different reactions from city to city when you were out on tour?

Yes, and that's what drove me to do [Scarlet's Walk], was that each place, depending on what makes up that place, saw it completely differently. We're one country, but we're a large one and we are affected by our land, by the culture there and by the stories of the people who have settled there. Is it a naval base? Is it a left-wing city? Is it a right-wing city? All those things were there, projecting how they saw this. So the story would shift and change wherever I went. Some people would say, "Why did this happen to us? Why?" Some people would say, "We're mothers. We're frightened for our children," and you'd run into soccer moms who'd tell you, "I've never been political until now, and I'm just afraid of what's going to happen." It was a time when the world did change, and America became part of the world. Before then we were isolated; these kinds of things didn't happen to us, not on the mainland.

How permanent do you think that change is?

Well, the seeds are planted. You might have to look into the future to see them really sprout, of course. A lot of betrayal has happened since then; people like my parents - not them, necessarily - lost everything by trusting our own [financial] system. Bin Laden didn't do that. We go back to greed; that is part of our core, too. Unless a generation rises up and questions that, then us being seen around the world as the bully will continue. [The Music Monitor - October 2002]

Has your view of the world changed since 9/11?

We're living in scary times. As a mother you see both sides of the medal. On the one hand: What will be left in 20 years time? I cannot accept that my daughter won't have a happy future because we make the wrong decisions. All parties have to sit down on one table now. Nothing can be solved by violence - no matter, absolutely no matter where it comes from. On the other hand: if someone you love gets blown away, it is very difficult to understand "the other side". At the moment there are only victims. I know that I would get in any terrorist's way if he tried to attack my daughter. I'd kill him without scruple, rip out his throat - and pour salt on my tongue to make the blood taste nicer. Full stop. End of story.

And what are the chances of a peaceful solution in your opinion? Do you have that hope?

I don't think that everything will end with a bang. But it scares me how much everybody is looking for enemies at the moment and how we are isolating ourselves again. If this is getting worse, there will be no sympathy or visions anymore sometime, but only ignorance and mediocrity. [Rolling Stone (German) - October 2002]

I'm not some kind of blanket pacifist, because I have a two-and-a-half year old daughter. And if someone comes into the playground and comes after my child and harms my child, I'm gonna go after them. The mother in me is going to go after them, and I have no problem with that. That's what we're talking about when we look at the World Trade Center and Washington attacks. But if I used that attack on my child as an excuse to go after every other mom and everyone else on the playground who I didn't like or who I have a problem with, what kind of mother would I be?

I spend time with people all over this country when I'm on the road. And what bothers me is that the world won't get to hang out with these wonderful people I meet in Arizona or New York - instead, they'll just keep viewing the United States as this bully on the playground. And I think it's our job as Americans and world citizens to always look at what our leaders are doing and where our leaders are leading us. Ask youself, who benefits from their actions? I'm afraid we're becoming a nation of great people who are being defined by the actions of their leaders. [Next - October 18, 2002]

How did September 11 inspire you to turn your attention to America?

I began asking myself certain questions about how I saw America. My grandfather was part Cherokee. He related to America as a spirit. He would talk about her like she was a sister and a friend. So I've seen her like that since I was little. But as I got older, I started associating America with her politics. When the twins went down, that brought me back. I felt the loss of somebody I cared about. As I started traveling the country, I found that people started seeing America not as an object but as the soul of the land.

Your concerts following September 11th were among the most cathartic shows you've ever played. Did you feel a rush to get back out on the road and see people again?

People were vulnerable in a way that they haven't been since I've been playing, and there was a real responsibility to not lose it up there. We got so many emails from people saying, "Look, even if you sit up there and look stupid, we need a place to go." So we decided to stay on the road after 9-11 and kept the doors open. You had to be affected. You'd hear stories from strangers every time you turned around. I made relationships with people that I might not have made and that changed the way that I see things. [ - October 28, 2002]

I am sorry but I turn out to be rather fierce when it comes to fights. After September 11 I became so sick and tired of all these pacifists and extreme left people who condemned the Afghan attacks right away. What was America supposed to do? Drink a cappuccino with the Taliban? Let me tell you this: if someone attacks my daughter Tash, I will rip his throat out. And that is exactly how America responded: as the mother of the American people.

What comes around, goes around seems to be Tori Amos' new motto?

I only tell you that when someone would attack my child I would do everything I can to deal with the person who did it. Of course, otherwise I wouldn't be a good mother. The funny thing is pacifists still would admit they would want to kill the killer of their own child. But they have a lot of trouble admitting you have to strike back with full power when people enter your country and slaughter your people on large scales, purely because they hate the West. In that case pacifists lose the power of speech. Then no-one will listen to their motivations anymore.

So, because of hypocrisy?

And saying 'I am against violence' is too simple to me. Yeah of course: basically I am against it as well. But when someone would bomb my town then I expect a strong response to this. Maybe that's because I am a Leo, which gives me the strong feeling I always have to watch over my cubs. Besides, I have a Native American background. The Cherokee culture taught me to respond to injustice immediately. Indian women always carry a tomahawk around their hips, because they know they have to fight in life. When a man from my ancestors' tribe would rape a woman he would be punished by being locked in with the women of the tribe. They would solve the problem with him.

One would punish a rapist by chopping off his dick with a tomahawk. Something like that?

For example, yeah. The Cherokee women also used to tie a rapist to a tree and let the animals solve it. Anyhow, what matters is that a line has been crossed and that brings along consequences. If you want to be taken seriously on the negotiation table you cannot walk in on your toes and say to the Taliban: ' Excuse me? Could you guys please stop mutilating your women's genitals? I would really appreciate that.' What bothers me is democratic nations oppose so much about America attacking Afghanistan, even though they know people were severely suppressed, and especially women.

You defend Bush's attacks back then but I know you do not advocate his ideas.

No, but that hasn't got anything to do with it. Again: when you're being attacked you have to strike back to prevent even more victims from falling. Let's say a group of soldiers would drop in my town proposing: 'Women, if we could fuck you all we leave your children and husbands alone. See, if that would be the solution - great - we would screw them all. But it won't stop there. They would go on and fuck your daughter anyway and kill her eventually.

You have a lot of cruel metaphors.

That's because I know how cruel the world can be. But about Bush: I don't support his ideas, because he's looking for war right now. He's lying to the entire nation right now. It's scandalous. The threat of war is around based on false pretences. Even the CIA offically declared, I read in The Guardian today, there are no direct signs Iraq would use its present weapons, except when being attacked. And now Americans even tell the CIA to shut up. That's how strongly they have started to believe the propaganda of their president. This man is trying to indoctrinate his people in his hunger for power. And indoctrination is always a bad thing. [Oor (Dutch) - November 2002]

t o r i p h o r i a
tori amos digital archive