January Artist – Tori Amos (Part 2)
This post is part of my Deep Dive Music Project. This month I’m listening to some music by Tori Amos. Be sure to check out the Tori Amos playlist I have on Spotify. This post has all my thoughts about the music I’ve listened to this month, and is broken up into three parts including this one. Click on a link below if you’d like to read another section.
I’m writing this on January 8. I’ve listened to the first four of seven albums of Tori Amos’s that I mentioned in my previous post. While she doesn’t have as massive of a discography as some other artists I’m listening to, she’s the artist whose playlist has the longest runtime. This might be because the Boys For Pele album on Spotify is a deluxe edition with 40 tracks. So I’m still listening to 7 albums of hers (as I am for all the artists with at least 7 albums). However, it’s a much longer listening experience than I’ve had (or will have) in this project.
This is the first time since listening to Lana Del Rey where I’ve felt the compulsion to repeat particular songs an absurd number of times. One of those songs has been “Yes, Anastasia” the last track on the album Under The Pink. I wrote a long Facebook post on my personal page about how my brain kept wanting to listen to the song. In two days, I listened to that song about 25 times (and it has a runtime over 9 minutes). And in the comments, a relative asked me “should I listen to this music?” I’ve been trying to figure out how to answer that and what the answer would be.
Our brains tend to recognize and look for patterns. One of the patterns I find myself doing when listening to music is comparing and contrasting different artists to each other. If we’re going that route I could say Tori Amos is a singer-songwriter who plays piano like Fiona Apple. If you like Fiona Apple’s music you’ll probably like Tori Amos’s music. But that’s not exactly right. Yes, they both play the piano and write their songs (some of which deals with traumatic subjects), but their music is different.
I wrote before about how Inflooenz stated Kate Bush as an inspiration for Amos’s music. That’s not exactly right either. I’ve been reading up about Tori Amos and she talked about listening to Kate Bush. Tori Amos mentioned she knew Kate Bush was doing something unique with her music. But Amos also said she didn’t listen to a lot of Bush’s music because she didn’t want to subconsciously start playing/writing music like her. Tori Amos wanted to do her own thing, and I think she has.
Tori Amos and Kate Bush have different styles of music from each other. Yet I kind of understand why they’re compared to each other, at least on a superficial level. They’re both female singer-songwriters who play piano and started writing music in childhood. They sing about a variety of topics but in different ways. But I think the most similar thing is actually how different they are. Both Kate Bush and Tori Amos are artists where I have a hard time describing their music to other people. Their songs don’t fit into a particular genre (often they’re put into the “baroque pop” category, but that doesn’t tell you much). And they’re both artists whose musical style changes quite a bit from album to album. I couldn’t tell someone, “if you loved Little Earthquakes then you’ll love From The Choirgirl Hotel.” Those albums are very different from each other.
Still, I haven’t answered if you should listen to Tori Amos. Who is this music for? I mean I’ve been enjoying Tori Amos, though some albums I’ve been having a harder time getting into. I haven’t gotten into Boys For Pele as an example. It’s not a bad album, but it just hasn’t clicked with me. Maybe it’s not the album for me, or this isn’t the time for me to get into that album. I can see myself revisiting her music months later and enjoying the stuff I didn’t as much the first go-round.
Tori Amos’s music is singer-songwriter kind of music, but not in a Burt Bacharach kind of way. It’s a lot of confessional style songs, but also a lot of out there more esoteric and weird kind of songs, which I love. Some of her songs deal with pretty traumatic stuff (“Me and a Gun” is an example). She also has songs about topics that aren’t often written about in music. Lots of artists write/sing love songs, not as many have written about the breakup of a female friendship (a topic featured on several songs on the album Under The Pink).
So if you like singer-songwriter piano music that’s also kind of weird and has songs about a variety of topics you may like Tori Amos. Feminism, religion, politics, and sexuality are some broad strokes of just a few of the topics Amos sings about in some of her songs. And if you want to listen to songs where it’s not always apparent what the song is about and you have to look up the song’s meaning then you might like Tori Amos. For example “Cornflake Girl” isn’t a song about a girl who loves breakfast cereal. And if you are a fan of female singer-songwriters and musicians like Fiona Apple, Kate Bush or even Regina Spektor (as I am) you’ll probably enjoy Tori Amos’s music, but maybe not.
I can’t even say “oh yes listen to this one Tori Amos song because this basically represents her music in a nutshell”. Her music is very different, even on the same album the songs can really vary from each other.
What I can say is I recommend you try and listen to this playlist (it has all the songs I’m listening to this month) press shuffle and see if anything sticks. Or look at the track list on the playlist and pick some song titles that stand out to you. Right now I’ve been repeating several songs from her first two albums. My On Repeat playlist (which features songs I’ve been repeating recently) tells me the Tori Amos songs I’ve been repeating a lot recently are:
- Yes, Anastasia
- Bells For Her
- Precious Things
- Happy Phantom
- Little Earthquakes
- Tear in Your Hand
You can try listening to the songs above (you can click on the link above and the song will open in Spotify). If you feel like you need to listen to any of these songs 25 times in two days then you’re in the same state of mind I’ve been in. I guess I’ll end by saying Tori Amos’s music is kind of weird and wonderful. I can’t say for sure if it’ll be for you, but I can say for sure that it definitely is for me.
How would you describe the music of Tori Amos?