Today is August 22nd. It is my most cherished singer/songwriter/musician/activist’s birthday, Tori Amos. And I am about to attempt to explain how much I love her work.
I have been dreading this!
It is not that I don’t love to speak of Tori, or be quick to mention how much I adore her music. Yet, it is a hard thing for me to put into words. I was truly hoping to have someone notably close to T guest post about the process of co-creating with her, but, schedule conflicts prevented that, and I cannot overlook her birthday on my blog, so….lets talk Tori Amos!
My fascination with her & her work began when I was 12, when a Vanity Fair article quoted her song, Suede, which would become one of my favorites. At 12 years old, I was perplexed & intrigued at the lyric, “My fear is greater than my faith. But, I walk the missionary way”. Then, in 2002, at a thrift store. I came across a Maxell cassette tape (Remember those?!) simply labeled, ‘Tori Amos’. I have always loved discovering new music, & recalling reading that line of hers afew years prior, I paid a whopping fifty cents for that tape & it turned out to be her 1991 masterpiece, Little Earthquakes. Which continues to be one of my top favorite albums. Ever. I felt her rage & longing on Precious Things, the hopefulness to discover her inner voice on Silent All These Years, the ease felt at realizing of one day hanging with the dead on Happy Phantom & the insecurity of ones future on Winter. It may be over ten years since those songs first played from my Sony boombox, yet they continue to comfort me or give me strength when I need it. Sometimes, I play LE to represent something occurring in my life; I take her with me as I drive to a new surrounding, or if I am on my way to somewhere uncertain.
One Tori memory that really stands out for me was on October 24th, 2011. 2 days before my birthday. I was in Central Park on The Upper West Side, & found a playground with a set of swings. I sat down & swung for what felt like an eternity. Thinking about where I had been since I was born, being in NYC at that moment, the irony of being in Upper West because of someone I know, where I would like to go in life. All while playing her song, Mother.
Any Ears with Feet (Tori language for ‘Fan’) knows that there is a somg-girl (Yep, Tori feels every song is a girl with their own being within….some love to drink, or have shoe collections, some are asexual, lesbian, straight….they all are alive, she says) for your every mood, & since I have entered adulthood, that couldn’t be more true. The more heartbreak, pining, sadness, desire, happiness, excitement, I have felt, there IS always a song I can go to. When life isn’t how I wish it was going, I often recite to myself, “Thunder wishes she could be the snow”, from 1998’s B-Side, Purple People. If I am happy, it’s always “Bouncing off Clouds” from 2007’s American Doll Posse.
Along with Little Earthquakes, the album tied for my most cherished is 1998’s From The Chiorgirl Hotel. Another CD I play often. Another moment I always will remember was driving home, at night, after my trek up north to see her for two nights in 2009. I drove through Pismo Beach while playing Liquid Diamonds, the chorus goes: “I guess I am an underwater thing. So I guess I can’t take it personally” & I envisioned all the sea creatures with feelings never recognized, & their “sea secrets rising” as she sings.
I have been blessed to see her in concert 7 times, & have met her on 3 occasions. Most ask me what kind of stalker am I to manage this?! But, a great thing alot of people don’t know about Tori is, she always tries to make time for her fans by hosting Meet & Greets before her soundchecks. You can get a picture with her, tell her your stories, even ask for a song. The last time I met her, December 18th of last year, she made me into a crying baby by simply saying, “Hi lovely! Great to see you, how’ve you been?” It means so much to all of us that she recollects meeting us before.
As I mentioned, Tori is also an Activist. Having suffered a horrible sexual attack in her 20s, 7 years later she wrote Me and A Gun, a daunting a capella song about her rape, also from Little Earthquakes. After countless fans were waiting hours to share their own terrifying stories to her, Tori felt she had to do more to help them heal. In 1994, she was a co-founder of RAINN, The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network, the first network to have a 24 hour hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) where victims can call for any kind of support they need.
Tori Amos is the closest thing to a religion for me in my life. While I perfectly understand when others do not get it, Toris songs mean so much to me & my friends, so I suppose I feel like we’re all being poked fun at a bit if you find her & us all funny. Perhaps, while so many have a pop culture obsession, you could say mine is Tori’s music. I love to read about her tours, have a pretty good knowledge of past set lists from shows & connecting with other fans (er, ewf!) worldwide.
And, for the record…while I still do own that cassette tape, I have since graduated to TWO CDs of Little Earthquakes, including one signed to me from Tori!
Happy Birthday, Myra Ellen “Tori” Amos!;)