Tori Amos talks turning 50 and songs she wasn’t ready to sing when her daughter was younger

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At different times, you write different music for your voice and for you as a player, but you also write music that you can emotionally contain. Your soul – your psyche – what makes your inner world a wasteland or fertile or both, is the deciding factor in what will make up your song garden. – Tori Amos from from her book, Piece by Piece (2006)

I’ve been a Tori Amos fan since Little Earthquakes and, according to iTunes, I have all or some of a dozen of her albums, so it was a treat to virtually meet her via a long distance call from Vancouver to Istanbul

In an interview for the Vancouver Sun just before the launch of her North American tour in Vancouver I asked Amos about the quote from her book and whether there was anything new she could contain since turning fifty…

“As Tash was a little girl growing up I might have been disguising certain things in order to protect her as an instinctive move as a mother. So some of the lyrics might have been more abstract on some of those records. Now that she’s thirteen and as she was getting to be older – she went to boarding school at eleven – I recognized that I didn’t have to disguise things as much because she’s pretty aware of what’s going on, so I don’t need to protect her in that way. We don’t necessarily talk about what Wild Way’s about. She’ll just say, ”I love Wild Way, that needs to stay on the record.””

And here’s Tori on turning fifty…

“I would say to you that in the music industry  - especially as a songwriter – those frontline contracts are more available to men fifty and up than they are to women. And in the music industry you have to remember it’s not as if we can go off and become Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep – now they’re in the next generation but roles are created for their age appropriateness. In the music world you’re singing about all kinds of things. And it’s a little bit different than the country industry. The pop rock industry is its own thing. And if you’re a dance artist or an icon in that way you get the young hipsters and they write the songs for you and blah blah blah and you’re an icon and then you work with the hot happening producer-writers. But if you were the storyteller you have to be able to tell the stories and be vital NOW and strike the chord NOW. Now that’s a very different path up the mountain. I was talking to the guys at the label and they said, “no it’s true, it’s right, there aren’t as many contracts being offered to women fifty and up as there are to men.  It’s true.” And I said, “WHY.” And they said, “we’re only here to supply the demand. Nobody’s banging down our door.” I said, “well fuck that, they need to be because we’re still sexy.” And they said, “well, you know you need to go prove that to yourself.” And I said, “okay, bye, fine let’s go, let the games begin boys.” But let’s be fair about this, it was the men that signed me to do this pop record.”

 


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