If Mother Earth were to manifest as a piano-prodigy-angel-voiced rock star, I think she would take the shape of Tori Amos. There’s an elemental air to the music Amos makes, especially on her latest album, Native Invader, on which she traces some of the songlines passed down through the Smoky Mountains by her Cherokee grandfather.
And, the way I hear it, there’s a maternal generosity and wisdom that has defined Amos’ essence since her 1992 debut album Little Earthquakes. Long before #MeToo, Tori shared her own story of being raped in the song “Me and a Gun” on that album. Although her record label felt the song was too painful a listen to be included on Amos’ debut, she insisted. She also performed that song, in all its bone-chilling a cappella power, at every concert for years. I imagine for many women who had yet to come forward with their stories, a private dialogue with Amos’ experience through that song may have served as the conversation they weren’t ready to have yet with their own mothers.
At this cultural moment, it felt particularly meaningful to talk to Amos about “Me and a Gun,” so we did. She also shared her advice for survivors of sexual assault and spoke about RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) which she has been associated with for decades. Please be warned: Our conversation could be a trigger for some. But I’m hoping it’s also helpful.
Amos and I also talked about her mother’s “record shop,” which would open as soon as her minister dad left for church; the romantic musical dance she does with her husband on a sexy new song called “Chocolate;” and The Doors. I hope you can listen. I’m really grateful to Amos for the conversation we had, and for all the important conversations she has started.