Thursday 22 October 2009
Killer Opening Songs (Crucify by Tori Amos)
For decades now the guitar has come to symbolise the ultimate power in rock and pop, especially in the former. Other instruments have accepted this fate imposed upon them by the almighty six-string musical seducer. But there remains one that has refused to bow its head: the equally commanding piano. And there are so many good examples of artists using the ivories to express their feelings: self-appointed King Arthur's court musician Rick Wakeman from Yes, the Argentinian rocker Fito Páez, the late, unbelievable Nina Simone. All these performers have brought, or brought, as in the case of Nina, an extraordinary level of deftness and mastery to an instrument whose origins were rooted mainly in classical music.
And to this list Killer Opening Songs would like to add the name Tori Amos. For almost twenty years now, this American singer has prowled the mainly male-dominated medium of rock and pop. From the very beginning Tori defied conventions: she avoided early 90s genres such as techno and grunge, her piano-based compositions travelled the diapason of her own troubled religious upbringing and she distanced herself from the Joni Mitchell/Kate Bush dyad.
Tonight K.O.S. is pleased to bring 'Crucify', the opening track of her debut album 'Little Earthquakes'. A very emotive song that touched upon issues like God, self-doubt and victimhood, 'Crucify' set the tone for Tori's singing style. Here's a performer whose voice accordions across low and high notes, never letting up or abating. Let's not forget that it was around those years, '92-'93 that the Mariah Careys and Whitney Houstons claimed their stake in pop's Mount Olympus, leaving as their legacy that yodelling competition they call nowadays 'X Factor' or 'American Idol'. All the more to admire Tori's uncompromising body of work.
But if the voice was exceptional the lyrics were mind-blowing. In passages like 'I've been looking for a savior in these dirty streets/looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets/I've been raising up my hands/Drive another nail in/Just what God needs/One more victim' Tori raises a very important issue: that of victimhood and how to react to it. K.O.S. is of the opinion that some people enjoy suffering and not from a masochistic point of view, but rather from a consciously powerlessness perspective. They enjoy the attention that misery brings and occasionally make a nice living out of that. However in Tori's hands 'Crucify' becomes a parody of adversity: 'Got a kick for a dog/Beggin' for Love/I gotta have my suffering/So that I can have my cross'. The dark humour certainly runs underneath the placid surface of this Killer Opening Song.
All in all, Tori Amos has recorded ten albums, with her latest coming out this autumn. Strong evidence of her quality as an artist and her skills as a pianist. Besides, without Tori we wouldn't have Fiona Apple, would we? Just joking. Enjoy.
Next Post: 'Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music' , to be published on Sunday 25th October at 10am (GMT)