I have a lot to thank Tori Amos for. Back in 1994 I had been playing piano for six years or so, and was really beginning to feel sick about it. The songs I practised were mainly classical tunes. I loved Moonlight Sonata (and still do) because I could access it, see it in my mind. And then feel it. Other songs I couldn’t access, I couldn’t understand them, make them work. What I really wanted was Midlife Crisis by Faith No More (still one of my favourites). I couldn’t read sheet music, and I totally lacked motivation to learn it. Or the songs. Piano was dying for me. That took a u-turn when Under the Pink reached telly with Cornflake Girl and God. I thought, “This is the way piano should be played.”
A whole new world opened up. And it wasn’t just the music. Strong and pointy lyrics with references to religion and sexuality (sometimes both together), releasing your demons, historical motifs, blood and guts – I was in love. Seeing her play Blood Roses with a harpsichord (Unplugged 1996), singing “I shaved every place where you’ve been..”, even today I don’t think I’m fully recovered from it. To play piano in such a way that you can feel drums and bass coming to life, this was something that struck a chord. I wanted to learn how to play in this way, where piano transforms into water, air and fire. Nowadays I play an hour or so each day. I can’t live without it, and I agree with Tori in saying that you feel yourself aligned when you go to the piano and start playing. Through Tori I also found mythology, and that showed me new ways to understand the tarot.
“Even if you don’t read history or you aren’t interested in anything that happened before the ’60s, there are reasons why we think the way we do. There are reasons why people are going crazy right now.” Paraphrasing Joseph Campbell, she says: “A culture that doesn’t know its mythology is powerless. Some kids show up at my shows crawling out of their bodies. They’d turn their power over to anything; that’s ’cause they don’t know the tools to go in.” (interview by Francesca Lia Block, Spin Magazine, March 1996)
Exactly one year ago I got to see Tori Amos for the first time. Provinssirock was equally first time for Tori in Finland. What made it even more special was the fact that we were both there; Oola screaming her lungs out in front row while I enjoyed the full scene from the back (never been a front row -guy). I hope she does another world tour some day. She’s said it herself that she refuses to perform if she can’t pull it off which, I think, is a good thing. I wouldn’t want to see Granny Tori doing Waitress or any other song.
A few things to look for: later this year there’ll be a DVD release of ADP, which was recorded during the Oakland show in Dec. 7th 2007. Comic Book Tattoo will hit stores in July 23rd. This is a 480-page anthology, featuring 51 of her songs coming into life through pictures and art.