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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 66
Tues. April 2, 2013

“If 6 was 9?”
Tori Amos

1994

“♫ I’ve
got my
own world to
live through/
ain’t gonna
come near
you
♫”

All you have to experience the aftershocks of her Little lyrical Earthquakes to realize, Tori Amos was the love child of Robert Plant, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and Kate Bush. Tori so believed in the soul of the rock, the rhythm and roll that Amos got kicked out of the Peabody Conservatory for trying to convince them that rock was as musically importance as classical music. “I was really into John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix; in their opinion, they were ‘not worthy’. Unless it was Chopin and Mozart, they (Peabody Conservatory) didn’t wanna know. Then I came and played John Lennon, and they said, this is unacceptable — and I said, if Mozart were alive today, he’d have listened to John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix; they totally messed up, so I got kicked out.”

Tori defended her reasons for the historical importance of rock music when she explained, “There is no dividing line between any of this. What we call classical music now was not perceived then as it is today. These composers–Mozart, Bartok–were the Jimi Hendrix’s of their day. So, now, when we see people with stinky cheese and glasses of wine, that’s not what was indigenous to those guys. They were broke, with all sorts of venereal disease. They were mercenaries, hired by the court to write this stuff. Some of them broke that mold. So this ‘classical’ music was the rock n roll of its day. Look at Hendrix or Jimmy Page. They were both influenced by jazz, which came out of tribal and classical roots. You can’t separate them. A great jazz player and a great classical player would have a lot to talk about over a margarita. Two great classical players, though, wouldn’t have much to say.”

Even though she has the skills, Tori will be the first to admit she’s far from a piano concerto/virtuoso; Amos comes from the Hendrix and Page school of rock performance; Amos plays her piano like a guitar goddess. But most industry folk weren’t buying Tori and her sultry rock anthems. Amos explained the adversity she faced trying to break into the music business with her lusty piano, “There was a time, late 80-90s, where the industry wasn’t open to the instrument being a pop medium if it wasn’t synthesized and I was trying to present it in a different way where is was active and not passive. There was a sexuality with it, not just a kind of image that people had of a professional female musician, but as a raw creature that could plug in no different than Jimmy Hendrix’s […guitar]. I knew that If I could show the piano in a different light, then the industry would open up and the flood of women that could do that would be come part of our landscape within in the music industry. But it was a hard fight… a hard fight. And I don’t think people know how hard that was. The doors were locked. With this adversity that was happening, I had to want to it so much, and to protect the piano, because they didn’t think it was a viable idea. But it was a long hard fight. But without this adversity I don’t know… it did give me something and I guess I’m saying to the young women who don’t face adversity, they still can infuse the work and challenge themselves as there is always a place to expand as a creator.”

Like Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush before her, Tori Amos prevailed by making sure her sultry piano poems made waves over cock rock sounds dominated the music industry in the early nineties. Even though Amos won respectability from critics, her devoted fan base and more importantly her peers, Tori still had to defend her choice of musical weapon being the piano like in 2001, when asked by kulturSPIEGEL if Amos ever wanted to be a man, Tori responded, “When I was younger, yes. First Jimi Hendrix, then Jimmy Page; both played guitar and for me they were the absolute symbols of coolness. But then I got a guitar of my own. And after that I never wanted to be somebody else again.”

Tori Amos talked about how her love of classical Hendrix influenced her craft when she explained, “There’s a lot of different form going on between Jimi Hendrix, Bartok, Fats Waller and Brahms. And the gift became a place where, after you’ve learned how it works, you can take all the rules and throw them away and say: ‘I have to make my own now.’ You’ve learned other people’s rules. It’s like a map, like a map. And then you take the map away and say ‘I have to make my own path down this mountain now. I’ve seen how other people have navigated and now I’m gonna take my own little boat.’ I think that’s the whole idea of creativity. It’s trusting in your own way. That’s when it gets exciting, not on copying.”

When Tori was younger she thought Jimi looked like Jesus; Amos’ version of “If 6 was 9” is more than a cover, it’s homage to the heavens. And just like Hendrix did with his holy chord, while wielding her wicked piano keys through Marshall stacked feedback… re-experience Tori Amos in this thunderous tribute as she takes a to the sky with her raucous rendition of Jimi’s “If 6 was 9.”

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