Abnormally attracted to Amos

When you work as hard as she does, you can afford to lay down on the job, too

When you work as hard as she does, you can afford to lay down on the job, too

Most red-blooded women I know go through a few common rites of passage in their lifetimes, regardless of their differences in ethnicity, economic situation, familial upbringing, and childhood hometowns.

1) First period

2) First sexual experience

3) First love (it’s not always the same as #2, for anyone reading this who has experienced neither yet. Sorry to break it to you.)

4) First brush with the music of Tori Amos, and the on again/off again relationship that ensues

Myra Ellen, better known as Tori, has made music that flirts with controversy for as I long as I’ve owned some kind of portable personal listening device. At her best, Amos’ songs flesh out the subversive elements of grand topics, whether they’re gender or religion or violence, without sacrificing the intimate, universal characteristics that make Tori’s artistic fixations every woman’s (and many mens’) fixations. Her critics have labeled Amos’ body of work with epithets such as self-indulgent, opaque without self-awareness, and loony. But for her loyalists, the ones who point out that for every Beekeeper there is an Under the Pink, for every brow-wrinkling lyric about lilac messes there is some ebullient burst of playful songwriting such as “I am a MILF, don’t you forget, M-I-L-F,” the main description that really registers is “transcendental.” Because there are only a handful of working female musicians who consistently and courageously tackle notions of girlhood and womanhood and make their efforts innovative, and even fewer who deliver such goods with Amos’ tremendous skill on the piano and strong, nuanced voice.

I’m one of the listeners who will always champion Tori Amos’ hallowed seat in the pantheon of contemporary music. I’ve been a fan since riding the bus to meet my first boyfriend in high school at the mall (if you grew up where I did, your options would have been equally limited), Under the Pink wearing out my Walkman. And one of her songs inspired the first short story I was truly proud of. The subject? Breaking up with my first boyfriend in high school. I’d be willing to bet tomorrow’s bus fare that Tori Amos’ music has spurred associations like that among girls all over the world. So it’s with no small amount of awe that I’m listening to her tenth studio album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin. At this point in her career, she sometimes sounds worlds away from the piano-centric arrangements that formed the foundations of her early work. But she’s still got those pipes that jump from slinky and cute to dramatic and robust within beats, not to mention that gift for lush descriptive language. And she still makes me think that, for all the weird turns that my brand of femininity brings, I have a golden-throated ally.

  • Tori Amos ~ Abnormally Attracted to Sin ~ Republic

Strong Black Vine

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