November 8, 2007
Thursday YouTubein’ — Tori Amos
The first two Tori Amos videos I ever saw (and, as far as I’m aware, the first two ever widely released) —
Silent All These Years (a bit fuzzy, but it was the best I could do since I wanted the studio video rather than a live version):
Related chunk of my life story below the fold.
Tori Amos’s first solo album, Little Earthquakes, came out in 1992, when I was 12. 12 was a fairly significant age for me. I hit my full height — five feet, six inches — when I was 12. I started dating when I was 12 — not because I actually had any real interest in boys (that didn’t really come until I was 18 or so), I realize now, but because some of my peers had been pairing up since fourth grade, and I wanted to be noticed, to be paid attention to, to be loved in a seemingly exclusive way. I took my first writing class when I was 12. I began developing close ties with new people and strengthening ties with people I’d known for ages when I was 12, and several of those ties are still strong.
Maybe you can imagine me at 12: my current curves (specifically my hips) were already apparent in my bone structure, and yet there was still a gangliness about me, like a puppy who hasn’t yet grown into her limbs. My hair was long, roughly waist-length, with bangs probably reaching my chin (I’d started growing them out maybe a year or two before). I tried not to smile with my lips parted too often — certainly not in pictures, anyway — because I was embarrassed about my crooked teeth.
I was awkward at 12 — grade school had taught me that I was Not Cool, and high school, where I found my niche as a band geek (with dashes of techie (i.e. I did tech, usually sound, for many drama productions) and choir dork), was still about a year away. My parents were going through their third and final split from one another. I’d been suffering from depression and anxiety long enough that they seemed more or less normal.
I can remember watching VH1 — this was back when MTV and VH1 still played videos, and I preferred the latter because MTV was mostly top 40, which I’ve never been terribly keen on — late at night, curled up on the sky-blue carpet in front of the TV. And I can remember finding Tori, namely the videos for “Silent All These Years” and “Crucify” (above) Her music was like nothing I’d heard before, her voice was gorgeous, she was physically stunning, and her lyrics spoke to me, both on the surface and down in the parts of myself I tried to keep hidden. I think one of the defining criteria of great music is that it has a way of constantly making itself new, like when you find yourself rewinding a passage in a Beethoven symphony to listen to it again because you’d never noticed it before, or one of Miles Davis’s licks in Kind of Blue suddenly makes your heart ache even though you’ve listened to the album innumerable times before. I’ve certainly found that to be the case with Little Earthquakes. A few years ago I listened to it as I wrote up a customer review for Amazon.com, and found the percussion on a particular track unusually prominent in my consciousness. I went through a life-changing event last year that led to the lyrics in a couple of tracks taking on new meaning for me. It was, I believe, the second CD I ever bought (the first was U2’s Achtung Baby, which isn’t The Joshua Tree but it’s still pretty damn brilliant), and I still have it, even though the case is cracked and the disc is scratched.
So, in short, I’ve been a Tori Amos fan for fifteen years — but I’ve never seen her in concert. That’s going to change tomorrow night. “Excited” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Bonus question for the lovelies who made it all the way through these ramblings: I love both these songs, but there was one I liked better when I was 12, and there’s one I like better now. Which is which? 🙂