I was a diehard Tori Amos fan at the very beginning.
It was 1992. I was in college when Tori’s landmark album Little Earthquakes came out. It was a groundbreaking album full of bold, sometimes blunt, statements about feminism and the everyday experience of women around the world. And with “Me And A Gun,” Amos created one of the most personal songs about rape that have ever been recorded.
As an early-twenties white male at that time, I can’t claim that Tori Amos spoke to me on the same personal level as she did to millions of women. But on some level, I appreciated that kind of brutal lyrical and musical honesty.
Tori Amos was on the front wave of the outspoken female singer/songwriter explosion of the early 90s that would fuel the Lilith Fair tours later in the decade. Ironically, Amos never played Lilith Fair.
But she played a lot. She toured constantly throughout the 90s, usually solo on piano and putting on sensual performances usually reserved for rock guitarists. I saw her in concert more times than I can remember at this point, and probably more times than any other artist.
My passion for Amos’ music went well beyond frequent concert attendance. I’m fairly certain I have more Tori Amos CDs in my music collection than any other artist. She’s released 14 studio albums and countless more CD singles. My Amos disc total is 99, not including her appearances on soundtracks or various artist collections. Her catalog takes up an entire four foot shelf in my music library. For reference, my Bob Dylan and Beatles collections each approach Amos in volume and square footage, but she still edges them both out.
As prolific as Tori Amos was early in her career, constantly releasing CD singles packed with non-album b-sides, she slowed down significantly around the time digital music began to emerge. And as time has passed, my interest in her music has cooled as well. I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment.
Don’t get me wrong. I still consider myself a fan. But after 25 years, I’m not the same person I was when she first started releasing her lyrical cryptograms. I’ll still buy every album she releases, but I probably won’t have the patience to fully decode them.
And so, as Tori Amos announces the September 8 release of Native Invader, her 15th studio album, I’m already a committed buyer and listener. If you’ve been a longtime fan, you already know what to expect. Tori’s own spiritual/mystical description of the record merely confirms it:
“The songs on Native Invader are being pushed by the Muses to find different ways of facing unforeseen challenges and in some cases dangerous conflicts. The record looks to Nature and how, through resilience, she heals herself. The songs also wrestle with the question: what is our part in the destruction of our land, as well as ourselves, and in our relationships with each other?
In life there can be the shock of unexpected fires, floods, earthquakes, or any cataclysmic ravager – both on the inside and outside of our minds. Sonically and visually, I wanted to look at how Nature creates with her opposing forces, becoming the ultimate regenerator through her cycles of death and re-birth. Time and time again she is able to renew, can we find this renewal for ourselves?”
Yep. Sounds like a new Tori Amos record.
In (tempered) anticipation, perhaps I’ll listen to her early albums that I still know by heart. Little Earthquakes, Under The Pink, Boys For Pele, and even From The Choirgirl Hotel still feel intimately familiar. Sadly, though, I don’t think I could tell you a single song from her most recent album, Unrepentant Geraldines in 2014.
Regardless, I’ll look forward to spinning Native Invader at least a few times before it fills slot number 100 in my Tori Amos collection.