Arcade Fire - Here Comes the Night Time (a 22-minute musical film directed by Roman Coppola with performances of 3 new songs: “Here Comes the Night Time,” “We Exist,” and ‘“Normal Person”), premiered on September 29, 2013. The film features cameo appearances by James Franco, Ben Stiller, Bono, Michael Cera, Bill Hader, Zach Galifianakis, Rainn Wilson and Aziz Ansari.
(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori; Chapter 7: Strange Little Girls)
"Happiness is a Warm Gun" (The Beatles)
What a song, “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” written by a man who had no idea he was going to be taken down by one. John Lennon was a man who had seen an ad for a gun that said, “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” and he asked in interviews, “Why is it warm? Because it’s just been fired” – without knowing, when he said this, that one would be fired on him. It started to strike me that this was going to be a canvas, a backdrop for the fact that no changes have really been made in gun control that are effective.
You have to know when you don’t have it. I mean, my version of “Happiness is a Warm Gun” is very much this Frank Zappa-inspired, nine-minute sort of a back-drop for the Second Amendment argument, a song written by a man who was later killed by a gun. It was just something that I thought needed to be talked about, especially after the San Diego shooting happened earlier this spring. And so there’s a thread between “I Don’t Like Mondays” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” There are many songs, however, that I looked at that I just couldn’t contain, couldn’t hold, couldn’t find my way in.
I knew that “Happiness” was on the record. It’s been circling me for a few years now because yes, we have a gun culture and yes, we have a Second Amendment. But when it’s easier to get a gun than a driver’s license, something is just intrinsically wrong. That’s really not good, so we have to look at this. And with all my nieces and nephews, the chip is going to slip! It did with me. We all have had moments when we get angry. And you know, they throw watermelons because that’s what’s around. So the last thing you want is that they can pick up a .38 caliber gun. That’s the last thing that you want.
I tried many different women but couldn’t put it into form, and then the guys started giving me information about John Lennon’s shooting. We did some research and found that in the wee hours of that morning, one of the last people Mark David Chapman called before he killed John Lennon was an escort service. If you go to a whore, you actually say, “I admit that I am not able to meet a woman in an ordinary way. I am too lazy to invest time, energy and love in a woman, and I don’t have any pride or self-respect, either.” But a lot of men pay a whore also for comfort and tenderness, a hole to fill and a shoulder to cry on.
That man, Mark Chapman, ordered a call girl the night before he shot Lennon. And we don’t know if they had sex or if they just talked, but later, she told the police he had asked her to perform a service, in his words, “to be silent.” He asked her to be completely silent during the deed, “like you sleep.” And “sleep” of course stands for “dead.” And that was my entry point. Because of “Silent All These Years,” I had an understanding of silence, and that word resonated with me. And Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” had already been brought to the table, so the thread goes back in the tapestry to that. Songs started to interconnect as I got to know them, not necessarily when I chose them. So this is sung through the eyes of that call girl. That’s why I chose the call girl disguise for the picture of “Happiness is a Warm Gun.”
Now, cut to the shooting incident in San Diego. And the fact that it’s still going on, that it’s resonating still now, “I Don’t Like Mondays” and “Happiness” started to really become a couplet together. When the school shooting happened again, there was a lot of discussion about trading weapons in the USA. If kids can get a weapon so easily, who is responsible? I know we have a gun culture in America, but it shouldn’t be easier to get a gun than it is to get a driver’s license in some states. Why don’t we make it more difficult to get your hands on a weapon? I’ve always worried about these kind of things, but since Tash came into my life, I think the stupid American right to sell weapons‚ like it were a kilo of apples‚ is a straight threat. It got to me so much that I sang “Happiness is a Warm Gun” from the same feeling.
After the murder, I was watching a lot of the commentary at the time, and the thing that struck me was: different people from the gun lobby or the NRA would say things like, “Look, there are bad seeds out there and it’s going to happen.” And it was almost like they were absolving themselves. It just seemed like this absolving, this kind of washing of hands, like, “Hey it’s not us,” meaning those on the gun side. And I have friends who are part of the whole gun movement. But you have to go, “Why do we have to be so resistant to the fact that we have blood all over our hands – that kids are killing each other?” When do people turn around and say, “Whatever we’re doing is not working?” Because we all know that the issue is accessibility.
So, “Happiness” became a canvas for the Second Amendment. Audio fragments have been added from political discussions about the trading of weapons. You have, you know, Dr. Edison Amos (my dad) talking about the Second Amendment and then you have George Sr. and George Jr. (the Bushes) doing their bits. I figured if I was doing a Bush, father and son, then I needed to do an Amos, father and daughter. I thought that was fair. So, you’ve got father and daughter and father and son. That is a statement that I wanted to add myself. I want to make people aware of the mad society my daughter has to grow up in.
[pre-order The Myth of Tori here]
(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori - Chapter 6: To Venus and Back)
Claim your pain
I have a really good shrink but I find I don’t need her as much. When I was working with her, it was like beading a necklace. One little bead at a time. The idea that you just have a couple of sessions and brush the dirt off your hands and say, “All right, that’s taken care of,” doesn’t work. Sometimes I go to see her, just like a check-up at a regular doctor. It’s good knowing there is someone you can talk to. She knows things other people don’t know.
Violence is always violence. The circumstances might vary, but what I felt when I was raped, and what the people that were affected by a war like the one of old Yugoslavia have lived is surely the same. When you’re abused, there’s a time to cry, to be looked after, and stop the bleeding. But there will be a time that you have to look after yourself. I believe women have to get more powerful. They are always looking for the prince on the white horse or the dark prince who can lighten their dark sides.
I don’t find personal relationships hard. Believe it or not, I have a sense of humor. Men have their own battles. To be honest, their lives spin around women. Take a look at history. In the end, it’s always about who can screw the daughter. Society always allowed men to do what they wanted to do: drink, fight, rape, screw. Enough room for the dark side. At the same time, women would wait, frightened: “When will I be raped, robbed or abused?” Some of them turn as hard as nails because of that fear. You can’t reach them anymore. I was like that as well. But physically I’m in reach, of course. I mean, that penis has to get in somewhere.
One thing that bothers me is when women are cruel to other women. They become that way when their inner self is wounded. They’re almost not accessible. You can always seduce a man, but a woman will try to break that force. A woman who’s harsh is like an animal that kills, like a predator.
Women shouldn’t deny their dark side. Sometimes those demons are frightening and sometimes they’re beautiful. You’ll have to approach them. Drink a glass of wine with them, take them for a walk on the beach, examine yourself. When you’ll think about yourself for fifteen minutes a day, very honest and without a lot of criticism, you will get to know your force. Every person is unique. You have to find and respect that unique part in yourself. You can’t expect others to do the work for you. I believe a personality is like a labyrinth where you can make a wonderful journey. And that journey can take a lifetime.
In the past hundred years, issues like rape and incest are being criticized for the first time. Women are allowed to work, have an independent life and can refuse sex. Such an attitude does have its influence on men as well. Sometimes they can’t get their penis up for strong women. But it can turn around in sexual abuse as well. Sometimes after the show, children tell me they’re in an incestuous situation. When they say, “It’s Gods will,” I can cut the culprit’s throat. Abuse isn’t what God was talking about. Absolutely not. Fuck “God’s will.”
I think when you see some of the little girls that I have that have been gang raped, it’s real hard to justify that shit and say, “Her higher self wanted it.” There are a lot of esoterics and shaman that have their opinion, but I think there’s a lot of horse shit in that, because nobody is talking directly to the divine. And you can’t say she was Hitler in a past life. Those things I feel are really weak and naive – try it on somebody else.
I think there is a place where there is the aching heart. We do weep many tears. Because when some people are close to soul death, you’re so cut off from your heart that you can to that to somebody else. It doesn’t justify what you’ve done to somebody else, just because you’re in pain. And I think that it will continue until a generation rises up, claims their pain and says, “I must take the abscess, I must take the poison, and I must take the wound and look at it, and transmute it,” and that’s what the medicine women and medicine men did.
Jung calls this working with your shadow. There are books out there that I recommend for people that want to go into the psyche. Anything by Marion Woodman, powerful stuff. She’s a Jungian. Addiction to Perfection teaches us how to handle our emotions. We’re taught how to balance our checking accounts but not how to scream at the teller. Robert Johnson, he wrote a book called Owning Your Own Shadow, which I think is powerful. It’s about how not to put your monsters on other people or take on other people’s monsters. It’s about power. There’s a book that I’ve just gotten, which seems to be quite fascinating called The Fruitful Darkness by Joan Halifax.
And all this is about opening yourself to different information, checking in with your own instincts, and seeing what feels right and putting aside what doesn’t feel right at the time. When I mention these books, there are zillions of books, but it’s about a quest and about getting up off your ass and being part of the creative process in your own life instead of a blob in front of the TV screen all the time. Balance the TV, people. It’s one thing to enjoy it and it’s another thing to be a servant of it. Because it sucks and it sucks and it sucks your own creativity.
[pre-order The Myth of Tori; only 30 copies are left from the limited edition printing]
"Popular by Design" - an inspiring song from The Polyphonic Spree's new album, Yes, It’s True, performed live at WFUV
(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori; Chapter 1: From Peabody to Pop; section 4: The Barroom)
When you decide to change your name, there are going to be a lot of reasons. There were for me; it wasn’t just one thing. I was going through different name options for, like, a year and a half because I just knew that Myra Ellen – that’s just, like, wrong. I think it is also correcting a serious mistake my mother made. I just hated my name, especially what boys can do as a nine year old with the word Myra. On the East coast with their accents, they are horrible anyway, but Myra – it was just the worst. If a guy even started to look at me and then heard my name was Myra Ellen, it just created a limp dick immediately. I couldn’t bear it. Everybody called me Ellen instead.
And the tricky thing is, I don’t know what year this was, but we were in that Dallas period. I was obsessed with Sue Ellen from Dallas. I was watching Dallas or Dynasty. I guess I was one of those people that would have Dynasty taped so that I could watch it. I mean, I’ve erased that from my memory, but I think that I was one of those people that would kind of sneak in on my girlfriends who would watch. And we were all working, of course, when Dynasty would be on, and yet to see Joan Collins be evil was just – you couldn’t miss that. It was important to our week.
And so I went through some really bad names when I was going through my name change period. You wouldn’t have believed some of the names I was going through at the time. Sammy Jo was Heather Locklear’s character on Dynasty, and I went through a phase as Sammy Jay. That was my late ’70s prime-time soap opera name. Or it could have been my porn name – I’ll remember that when I date Tommy Lee. Well, I almost became Sammy Jay, if you can imagine. Obviously, that wasn’t me. I don’t know what happened, I was just drawn to that name. Thank God I didn’t change it publicly.
But anyway, what happened was, a friend of mine at the time, Linda McBride, came to see me perform when I was playing a club in D.C. I was seventeen and a half, almost eighteen. She was eighteen. Linda came in with her new boyfriend on her arm, whom I hadn’t seen before, and never saw again. I think his name was Patrick. She was only with him for a week. She brought him in and I sat down with them during a break. She said, “Hi Ellen. What’s goin’ on?” I remember telling her I was exhausted going through names. It had been nine months and she knew about the Sammy Jay debacle. I said, “I’m still looking for my name.” And I’m like, throwing around Sammy Jay, you know, saying, “Linda, I think I’m gonna be Sammy Jay. I’m feeling this.” She just looks at me and she goes, “I want you to meet so and so.” And he looks at me and says, “You don’t look like an Ellen to me.” I replied, “I know, I am changing my name,” and he goes, “You look like a Tori to me. You’re a Tori.” And I said, “You know what? I think you’re right. I am.”
I thought about this for the next few days, and decided I really liked the name and that was that. I said, “Thank you, Linda. You’re so selfless. The only reason you dated that beautiful hunk was to get me my name.” So from then on, I made out my checks “aka Tori.” Tori is the name of a Californian pine tree. I liked it. Then, of course, I found that it meant “little chicken” in Japanese.
My parents call me Tori Ellen, which is really lovely. My sister has a problem with it. She calls me Ellen but not in public because that’s disrespectful and she knows it.
(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori; Chapter 5: From the Choirgirl Hotel; Part 1: Grief; section 3: Why?)
When I lost the baby, I guess I felt I had certain rights. There was a line crossed with me. They say that in fighting for your child – even though it was unborn – you’ll do certain things that you wouldn’t do in any other circumstance. I think it made me feel like I could approach any deity from any religion and ask questions. We don’t know where souls go when they die, and nobody could give me that information. And, you know, deities are deities. That’s what they do and, obviously, they know things we don’t. But as a human woman, I felt a loss that deities don’t experience, and I needed to express what that loss felt like to those deities.
I wasn’t really healthy when I got pregnant. I let myself go down – but there are heroin addicts who have healthy babies, so why? I started to have weekly margarita sessions with the Christian God. You have to know, I asked every question I could possibly come up with. For instance, being in American malls, seeing the way parents hit their kids all the time – I mean, really hitting their kids – you start asking, “Why are some people allowed to become parents and some not?”
I was saying, like, “Look at this fucking mother,” in this mall somewhere in the South – where I was – and she, like, totally whops the kids, just hits them. And you’re going, “You know, there’s so many people who don’t want their kids, don’t love them, don’t care for them. It’s just, I feel like you’re an under-achiever.” I’m always talking to the Christian God like this.
The way I was brought up was, “Thy will, not my will,” and I’m always arguing with that. I began questioning God, thinking, “If you call yourself a God, you ought to be able to answer some of those questions.” I was dragging God around by the balls. But I didn’t get any answers, not from that source, anyway.
After it happened, I mean, how do you find, where do you go and look for souls that are gone? I needed to communicate. I didn’t think about what she needed. Then I thought that maybe she didn’t choose me as a mom. Then I got pissed off and thought, “Okay, go and choose Susan down the street then, that right-wing Christian bitch.” For a while there I was so angry it was, “No way – you don’t even get a chance to come back.”
People had a very hard time talking to me about what had happened. They don’t know what to say to you. They say things like, “I guess it’s God’s will.” Obviously, I believe in The Design, but I don’t always agree with it. You know, the thing I hated most was when people told me, “It’s all for the best, something was wrong.” Don’t tell me it’s all for the best. Don’t you ever tell me that. Those things just don’t make it okay.
I went through a lot of different feelings after the miscarriage. You go through everything possible. You feel death, but you’re alive. You’re walking between the worlds. I went through many different sides to it. You go through every question. You question what is fair, you keep asking why. I even went through a phase where I felt rejected. You get angry with the spirit for not wanting to come. It was just something I went through and then finally what I went through was surrendering. “This is out of my hands. If this spirit doesn’t want to come or can’t come for whatever reason, well, okay. I’m here. I’ll keep myself open.”
Then I began to feel a peace; and the spirit started to take me to another level of love. Like the Grinch, my heart grew three times that day – I began to feel the capacity again. The thing I found was that the love didn’t go away from this being. Feeling love like that, it changed me, even though the spirit didn’t manifest physically. I had never appreciated life like that before. I didn’t write the record until that happened, and it was quite a shock. I didn’t intend to make another album so soon, but that’s when the songs started to come. As I was going through the anger and the sorrow and the why, the songs just started to come. The songs were a huge part of me understanding my feelings. Before I was even aware, they were coming to me in droves.
Looking back, that’s the way it’s always happened for me in my life. You know when you have this emptiness – internally, literally – your hormones are crashing and everything is happening? When things get really empty for me – empty in my outer life – in my inner life, the music world, the songs come across galaxies to find me. I think when I’m in some kind of trauma or going through a difficult time, the songs usually tear across the universe to find me, because we have a pact.
So this record was really about me respecting the life force in a way that I hadn’t, but also putting into perspective all the things I was taught and the untruths I was taught about the guarantees you are given. And I had a hard time talking about it. But that’s how the music started to be created. The songs seemed to have such an easy time talking to me. I guess the seed from the miscarriage became the seed for the record. And I began to feel the freedom of the music.
I don’t know where she is, this little being, this little spirit, but I feel her presence. And I feel her love. And, you know, the songs have become my babies, I guess.
[pre-order The Myth of Tori before it’s too late!]
(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori; Chapter 3: Under the Pink; Part 4: Strength in Vulnerability)
"Past the Mission"
The trouble in the churches is what I sing about in “Past the Mission.” There is a denouncement, I think, in this whole earth life. I’m not going to say – although I think R.E.M. is right that it is the end of the world as we know it – that I think it’s really showing itself as that. George Porter, Jr. from the Meters played on the whole record, and there’s a lot of him on “Past the Mission,” as well as Carlo Nuccio from the bottom end. I did the piano and vocal first, but they played on the track, which gave it, especially in the verses, that New Orleans kind of church meets Otis Redding, and they had a lot to do with bringing that out of the piece itself. Trent, obviously, it’s nothing like he does in his work, which I found an interesting choice.
I was living in New Mexico at the time, and I think I was really inspired by the history there, and the native people, and how the missions influenced native culture. And that being the back story and the history, it became more of a personal relationship that this woman was having.
I don’t want to guide the listener too much, but I was inspired by the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, and there’s a bit of that in “Past the Mission.” I was reading Holy Blood, Holy Grail at the time. It has a lot of thoughts. It’s a very long book about a historical viewpoint on everything, with the Cathars and all that happened in the Pyrenees, and the Merovingian dynasty and the whole nine yards. It’s an interesting read. It opened my mind up a bit. And this was in 1993 when I wrote it, so it was a little before Dan Brown, so I think it’s okay to acknowledge that.
Of course, I believe Jesus and Mary Magdalene were together. Of course, I believe they were a couple and she understood things. She represents the Goddess, the female, the feminine, the joining, the equality. “Some things only she knows.” And until we acknowledge there are some things only she knows – and there are some things only he knows too – and until we have that mutual respect, there’s that prison tower, and there’s that mission, and the hot girl got lost somewhere in between. More than anything, it was the sexual relations, even if it’s just with yourself, surrounding the oppression of the church, and that’s where “Past the Mission” again, it’s really freeing to me, that song. There’s no resolve, either.
"Past the Mission" is desperately wanting to break free from being a victim. But there’s also a lot of hope in that song because "Past the mission, I smell the roses," and Trent Reznor sings on it, the raging man, but being very supportive of the woman. "Past the Mission" wanted him to sing on it. The choice for had to be somebody that represented rage and anger because this is all about a girl trying so hard to work through being a victim. I felt like for a guy to be supporting her, it had to be a guy that could rage, because then it would really mean something if he could be tender. Trent is – well, you can’t be in all that much rage and pain unless you have a very big heart. I think all the boys that write the screaming stuff would write the best love songs because they have the most to hide. The guys that are in the most pain are usually the ones with the biggest hearts.
"Past the Mission" is a love story. It’s kind of a strange one in that it’s me again, still trying to find pieces that I’ve left other places. It kind of breaks my heart when I hear him sing with me, "Past the mission I once knew a hot girl." Where is she now? Where did she bury herself? How do you get that back again? That part of you that hid in the holly bushes as your father walked by after church. Again, it’s trying to find the pieces of myself that I have numbed over the years. And there is life past the mission. It’s finding it – the "hot girl" – in you. She can come back again. It’s that same thing, where in "Pretty Good Year" and "Past the Mission" and "Space Dog," everything is reclaimable.
Trent has been very inspirational, and I think he does what he does wonderfully. I love the screaming male aggression of his music, because I’m not in touch with that part of myself so much. I think there ought to be a raging-male cruise line we could take, go to seven islands and just watch these guys act out. I’ve always said that what Trent really needs is a blanky and a hot chocolate with marshmallows. He doesn’t need another hole to crawl into. I think somebody should give him one of those little hard hats with a miner’s light on it, so when he gets lost in a dark hole, he can find his way out.
Believe it or not, Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails, had been such an influence when I was writing Little Earthquakes. That’s why we met, because after I had heard Pretty Hate Machine, I began reading the Sandman comics and listening to Pretty Hate Machine. I had given this young man, who had been the lover of the girl I used to babysit in Rockville, a place to crash on my floor in Hollywood. They had had a falling out. I was twenty and I was like his older sister. He was a dropout of Parsons Art School. I gave him a place to crash and he brought in the Sandman comics and Nine Inch Nails. Just imagine, I’m reading the Sandman, listening to Nine Inch Nails, reading “Calliope,” going, “Where have I been?” Playing at the Marriott. So yeah, these are some landmarks in my life.
It’s about an internal thing, more than anything. More than a lot of people out there, I think Trent is really in touch with – even though he represents rage in a way – I think he’s more understanding of hurt than a lot of guys that touch rage. They touch rage, but without the depth of – that rage really comes from a very deep pain, and I think he does understand that, that’s why his work really touches me. I always loved what he did.
There are a lot of hidden nerds. I’m aware of the exciting man in Trent The Nine Inch, but I can see the nerd in him, too. People who become the frontrunners often used to be outcasts or loners. He doesn’t just scream all the time. Trent’s a very deep cat. And that tongue… if he became a eunuch, it wouldn’t even matter.
When my mother heard Trent Reznor’s vocal on “Past the Mission,” she said, “Well, I do see, women are gonna be after him, he just sounds so smooth.” And I said, “Mother, they already are,” and she goes, “Well, there’ll be more now, I promise you that.”
Trent Reznor says, "We met on a friendship level. It was not like some mutual ass kissing thing. I really liked her first album, which is not the kind of thing I’d normally listen to. It was permanently in my car’s CD changer. It really struck me as well written, in a similar vein to what I was doing – from a different point of view, but the same kind of addicting, pouring out, gushing, baring, naked kind of song. I saw the video for ‘Silent All These Years’ and it struck me in a way where I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not, but it was interesting. I was pleasantly surprised to find someone who I thought was taking chances, not playing it safe, and also writing good songs, melodies and really good lyrics. I thought that I should try and get in touch with her, just to try and say – not that I normally do this, either – ‘I think your record’s really good.’ I relate to her work a lot, on some level, in an opposite of a Nine Inch Nails arrangement kind of way. I really think that it works. She approaches things with a totally different aesthetic than I do, but it’s good. Her music gives me goose bumps whenever I listen to it. It’s very rare for music to affect me that way. Tori called me to do this vocal track. It wasn’t that big a deal. Other people put their fingers in the pie, and they kind of messed up a friendship. We’re not that close now. Some malicious meddling on the part of Courtney Love. But I still feel the same feelings for Tori."
The Sharon Tate House
When I was writing “Past the Mission,” the song said to me, “I think Trent Reznor would be really good to sing on me. I want Trent to sing on me.” And I said, “Yeah, I’m sure you do. But I don’t really know if that’s possible.” And the song said, “It’s possible. So just, like, make it happen.” I just thought that his voice would go perfect with it, and we were friends, so it seemed like it would be a really great pairing. I wanted him to sing on it because of his energy. I love Trent’s work. And so I made the call and he was “open to that.” So I met him and I we did it at his house, you know, the old Sharon Tate House he was renting.
You have to go through a bit of security to get in. And it’s a very spooky house, knowing what it is and then walking… And you look in the Helter Skelter book and you just see you see the house and it’s like that picture. He’d be showing me the pictures going, “See this door!” I go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I see the door.” “It’s… See… This is where…” They have the control room where Sharon Tate passed away. And it’s just weird that when I was a young kid and we’d see the pictures in the book, I had no idea I’d ever be standing there. And standing there with Trent, it’s kinda even goofier. He was, I think, wonderful for this piece.
Tori attempts cooking chicken for Trent.
Look, he’s so anorexic sometimes. I was worried about his health because he’s not eating a lot – it doesn’t seem like he is – and I just look at him and go, “Baby, you need my cooking, honey.” And he was very open to the idea because, you know, I don’t think he gets much nurturing, that guy. There’s just not a lot of nurturing going on.
Well, I was gonna make him baked chicken because like, look, I’m from the South, I know how to make chicken. Whatever he tells you, ever, the truth is I make really good chicken. It’s oven friend and I’ve been making it since I was ten years old with my Nanny (my grandmother) in the kitchen. It’s awesome how it dribbles down your chin and the butter – yummy.
And I just said, “Let me make some chicken. I’d feel really good if I could do that.” And so he said, “Yeah, come on up and make it. I don’t believe you’re really as good as you say you are.” And I said, “No, I make good chicken, Trent.” I can make this chicken.
Anyway, so I went over there and I brought all my little supplies because they only have Coca-Cola in the fridge. So I brought all the ingredients. Well, I’m making it, and nothing’s happening. I swear to you for the life of me, I couldn’t make this chicken. Horrible! I mean, it’s just – yes, it’s cooking, right, the oven’s cooking. I’ve made it the same way that I’ve made it for twenty years. And it’s not working. I mean, you know how globs of flour were collecting on the chicken. And it just wasn’t working, nothing was working, and he’s standing there with his arms folded thinking he’s like… “I’m not applying to be your wife or anything. I mean this isn’t what’s happening anyway. So why are you not giving me a chance? This is wrong. This is your house.”
And I called my mother on the phone, things got so bad, and I said, “Mom, what’s wrong? I can’t make this chicken for this guy.” And she goes, “Well, you know, honey, I heard the Folger’s coffee heiress was also in that house, and she died that night, and I think there’s a curse on anything that has to do with culinary things.” And I’m like, “Thanks, Mom.” It’s not like I’d been proven wrong. But anything that is cooked there – my chicken being the only experience I had, of course – nothing bakes. So I don’t know what to tell you, but I think it’s a very weird place because I promise you, I know how to make this chicken!
[pre-order The Myth of Tori now - Only 50 copies are left from the upcoming one-time printing!
(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori - Chapter 2: Little Earthquakes)
"Me and a Gun"
"Me and a Gun" is based on a personal experience and I wouldn’t talk about it for seven years. After I moved to LA I was raped. It was something I penned up inside me for years. There was an incredible shame that made me feel that I somehow had brought this on. I erected a huge defense around it to hide it somewhere beneath my heart. I became very, very tough. I didn’t go to any kind of help groups and I didn’t deal with it, really.
I saw Thelma and Louise in London and I was frozen as memories came flooding back. I sat in the theater and I literally could not move. I was just a mop. After seeing the film I went off and spent some time by myself. Days, days and days. Processing so much that I hadn’t been able to begin to become conscious about. And it was through gut-wrenching pain – hysteria, I think – that the music began to come. In the quiet, in the silence, being alone. And it’s like a door opened. And I began to open that door and free myself from being a victim in my head.
I couldn’t speak to or be with anybody, so I just went off to one of my secret private haunts that you go to in the world. You just leave everything you know and go. And that’s what I did. And when I came back out again, this song was walking hand in hand with me. I wrote the song that afternoon, and I wrote part of it on the Baker Lou Line going to North London. I was walking in a dream state. I went to the Mean Fiddler that night and I sang it and I’ve been singing it ever since. It became something I had to sing to move forward. I knew that it was time to deal with this.
I don’t talk about the details because I can’t, but it’s freeing to sing that song. I have to go in a trance to sing it. It gets exhausting singing it. But there’s so much going on that nobody talks about, and I just found that out with myself after so many years of not talking. And as I was writing that song I realized the biggest mistake I made was not seeking help from people who understood. Nobody was there for me the night it happened. I hadn’t talked to my mother or anyone about it. She’s aware of what happened, but I never discussed the details. I don’t think she could bear it. I just cut off the experience, not knowing that in doing this I was letting it take control of me inside.
"Me and a Gun" is about forgiving myself. Writing the song has been incredibly healing. My floodgates opened. Thank God I did. I can love again and separate the incident from other relationships. You can carry that with you for the rest of your life, really, and I’ve smashed that by writing the song.
I recorded the song in the studio in one take. The musicians behind the glass were completely speechless. After keeping it locked away for six years, writing about it was freeing. For a long time I was scared of everything. Most of all that I would never be able to take care of myself. Now I’ve learned to love myself and I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m okay. I can tell me I’m okay.
That song – it’s funny how the album was held up ‘til that one got on. That was the last one. That and “China” were the last ones to get on the album. I came out with an EP in the UK first, which was “Me and a Gun” with “Silent All These Years” on it, which got all the airplay in the UK.
With “Me and a Gun,” I hope attackers as well as victims are listening. As well as judges as well as lawyers. I want you to taste in the back of your mouth what it was like to be in the car with the pervert. With my music I go all the way in there emotionally. A lot of people are afraid of what I’m talking about. Abusives always have a hard time hearing from the victims.
I’m not blaming him now, and more importantly I’m not blaming myself. That was the biggest one. When I say “blame him,” I want to clarify that because you have to say at a certain point, “It did happen to me.” It doesn’t justify his actions at all, but I refuse to stay the victim in my head.
You see, I’m coming from a different place. I’m coming from – I’m mad, mad at myself to this day that I didn’t kill the man who raped me that night. You know, the wanting revenge – I can understand all of that, the way the experience of rape is so totally life-changing, totally incapacitating, the way you want to show them what it’s like. But the answer isn’t go kill. The gun is about owning and claiming your anger, claiming yourself as warrior.
People react very differently to it. In my experience, women react very differently to this song. My father loves this song – although my parents are very Victorian and very religious. My father found it was simply necessary to say what rape means. It’s a frontal assault – not only on your body, but on your soul. I think you can write about everything. It depends on the perspective you write it from.
When I wrote it, I didn’t know how many women would respond. One out of every four women who get backstage say that they have had a similar experience, and that they haven’t spoken about it. When I put it out I knew what it was. I didn’t know that I was gonna have to keep talking about rape. It would be nice not to have to talk about it, because I would like to move on, but it stays with me all the time.
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(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori - Chapter 15: Night of Hunters)
2011 Night of Hunters tour
The Apollon Musagette Quartet is coming out on tour with us, and that just seemed to make sense. They play with such a high caliber that it was really quite tempting. They’re classically trained, so it’s a merging of two worlds. They’re Polish boys in their late 20s and early 30s, so they’re very passionate about their playing and I thought this would be a good balance. They have a lot of energy, and they shred like nobody’s business. It’s like a hurricane of vodka coming through their wood. They play like demons. The crew calls them the Fab Four. I’m the bus mom. They’re all so young and talented, they’re inspiring. This is the first tour for some of them.
The string quartet played on the record. There is a quartet of woodwinds as well, so it was an octet. Many work in symphonies, so we could only take the quartet out. So I thought, “Why not arrange some of the catalog just for string quartet, piano and vocal,” and so we’re doing some of the older songs in that configuration. We are looking at all the songs from all the records to be arranged for the quartet. I’ve done my “A list,” but I haven’t done my “B list” or my “C list.” When I say “A,” it doesn’t necessarily mean my favorites, it means different tempos – it is a grouping of songs from the catalog that I thought would work with songs from the new record. Because we have to have enough songs to have a full repertoire for an hour and a half show or whatever.
We are rearranging some songs in the catalog that were never string quartet or string-based, and I said they have to be the ones that we do ground-up first because I need them to tell my story. That’s exciting, to shake it up and do things that were maybe drum ‘n’ bass, rhythm-driven. Not all things, just a couple. But I thought, “If we’re going to do this, we need to just not be predictable.”
We only get five days of rehearsal, that’s all we get! The plan is that we are going to rehearse every day on the road so that we can expand the repertoire. We had to make decisions and John Philip Shenale had to do these arrangements for the quartet from the catalog, so we had to make choices. I can’t count how many songs we have right now but we’re hoping to add a couple more in the rehearsals before the first show. It will expand and I think that, hopefully, there will be some surprises. My sound checks are usually two hours and mandatory for everybody. That is why my live show always gets a reputation, because we are always adding new songs in.
We plan to have two segments in the main body of the show and I will have my moments with the audience, playing solo, so that there are more song options from one night to the other. But I think that, in the beginning, for the first few shows, I would say that the changes that happen will probably only be in my solo set.
It’s really about casting where the songs go. There needs to be enough time for when tuning needs to happen for the quartet, and enough time for me to improvise. When you improvise, it’s about chasing an energy that you’re finding and feeling in the moment, which is important because then you’re communicating, actually having a conversation with the people that are there. So the challenge is to make sure that there are moments carved into the evening where that can happen.
I’ve been around a long time and I think that experience helps. I think doing variations on a classical theme is a dangerous thing to do. If you get it wrong you can never show your face again to your music peers. There are a lot of pop musicians who have done this and it hasn’t gone so well, so I didn’t take this on casually. And the idea of touring it was quite a challenge. The idea of making this record come alive, and then how do you bring in the music from the other records? It was a thought-out process. It was actually my husband who said, “You need to take the quartet out on the road. That’s the only way it’s going to work.” And I looked at him and I said, “Do you mean I’m going to be on a bus with 20-somethings?” And he said, “Yes, and you’re going to have the time of your life.” And I’m having the time of my life.
The exciting thing is that they are classical musicians – they are not pop musicians – and they really come from the classical world. So for them to be playing pieces from my catalog – “Precious Things,” stuff like that – it’s really exciting to see the two worlds come together. But it’s a very different kind of structure and rhythm. It comes from a different place than what they’re accustomed to, although certain styles cross, because I have a lot of that in my blood, it seeps out in the music.
I’m not doing Night of Hunters as a complete song cycle every night. I don’t get Tash and I don’t get Kelsey and I figure people coming to the shows more than once will get tired of that really quickly. Tash is now boarding at the Sylvia Young Performing Arts School in London, exploring and discovering her own muses. She is really in school mode right now. And she just turned eleven. Kelsey, who played the Fire Muse, is in school as well – in New York. So, that’s one of the reasons I decided not to do the song-cycle live as it is on the record, unless I cast it and took people on the road to play those roles.
I think when you listen to Night of Hunters for the first time, because it’s designed as a narrative, every song informs the other. And once you know them, then I think they can live outside the cycle and stand on their own. My shows have always been about responding to what people are feeling and what they’re dealing with. And therefore, it became clear to me that the songs in the cycle will become part of this palette, which is the catalog, and that all of them will be available to tell the story of September 30th that night, or October 14th that night, wherever we are. You can’t respond to what’s happening in the world unless all the songs are there on the palette.
When I’m traveling, I think the key is that when you go into a city, you really have to take stock of the emotional temperature there. I design the sets based on the energy of the city I’m in and what they’re responding to. So for instance, when things have happened in the world like the Oslo tragedy and you’re playing a show there that night, the people are in absolute shock and grief at that level of violence, so then there’s an opportunity for something healing to happen and to work through the shock of an experience like that together through music.
It’s important to me to be very present in order to be able to put in contextual story form what’s happening in the world around us. I choose the songs that don’t need much more, and then the whole experience becomes complementary. You have to stay open to the audience because it’s a conversation, an emotional one, which, if I play my cards right on the night, makes the whole experience magical for everyone – including me.
Being in tune with the energy of a city and its people is part of the dramatic apex I look for. A good show is when the audience feels that I’ve taken them to another place, without them having left their chairs. Before the show, I need an hour with no phone, no contact with anyone. I focus on the energy of the songs that are coming that night and the stories they’re telling. Songs are sonic beings of consciousness and I’m a container – they’re alive to me. When I go out on stage, I’m bringing their spirits with me.
I see all songs, even covers, as part of the palette, and it’s about changing something every night so that it’s unique. Some songs are just part of the basic repertoire and you’ll find I’m playing them at almost every show. They’re kind of our building blocks and we go from there. Since my repertoire is so big, I can really change the shows up.
And each night it has to be a little bit of a different narrative but one that still works with the idea of a shattering that happens, and then each night we find something. And depending on what’s happening in the world, we don’t know what fragments we need to reclaim. It might be compassion, it might be intelligence, it might be fury. That’s what the woman is doing in Night of Hunters – she’s reclaiming parts of her soul. It’s easy to blame other people in your life, whether it’s friends or people you work with. But let’s be honest – a lot of times you blame the person you’re in love with. Especially if you’ve been in love with them for a long time. It’s about being aware of how you treat the people you say you love. We forget that.
If you choose the right songs, although you’re doing it with a couple thousand people, you’re all traveling together on this elixir of music. You don’t have the cactus, like she does in the story; Anabelle doesn’t give it to you. Although I’ve always thought some people in the crowd are on some elixir that I kinda wish they’d blow my way. But then I might fall off my piano stool, so I think twice about it.
I never drink before shows. I drink Chinese tea and water. I also don’t eat for at least three hours before a show. This ensures that I’m entirely clear. I chew cinnamon gum before shows. This keeps my vocal cords wet, helping me to reach notes with lots of space to breathe.
Part of the whole thing is that my core is very aligned and it might not seem like I’m moving around much but my core is pretty anchored, I kind of balance myself on the high heel and it gives me a stance. If I have a flat foot, I don’t have the same kind of core, or if it’s anchored too high, then I wobble. But if it’s just the right height on the foot, it’s a huge support to the core because you play from your core, not from your hands. It all comes from the center, your solar plexus.
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(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori - Chapter 15: Night of Hunters)
Tash is Anabelle
Anabelle works as a representation of nature. As all good song cycles, it affects the protagonist in a way that gets them to see another part of their life that they are not able to see.
My daughter, Tash, and I were developing the Anabelle character together, and I think she said to me, “Who’s playing Anabelle? You know I am, right?” I didn’t even want to have that argument. She wanted to do it. I thought that our relationship would come through, there would be an honesty. I knew I wanted my niece to be the Fire Muse, because she’s nineteen and she’s been training for many years particularly on the vocal side, she’s on the legitimate music side. I liked the idea of having these two beings I know very well.
Tash seemed perfect to be the voice of Anabelle. The more that I would think about it, I would watch Tash – just how she communicates with nature. And she sings. She’s in a trance and dances her dances around the water. And I kind of looked and I thought, “Children have this incredible sort of connection with nature, where they don’t ask questions about it. It’s just alive and real in them, and they’re not outside of it looking at it, but they’re inside of it experiencing it.” So I thought, for her to play Anabelle, the shape-shifting fox-goose, the hunter and the hunted, who is really duality, I thought that’s when nature could come alive and speak.
Tash is all eyes and ears. If you want to know what’s going on in the neighborhood, anywhere in the world, backstage – ask Tash! And of course, she has an inside view to what is going on in our kitchen. So I think she knew that this wasn’t something that was written about a specific overnight incident, or something that happened over the course of a week. I’ve explained to her that I’ve been collecting stories and experiences for years and years. And she knows that her dad is sort of a muse for me – I’m putting that in terms of the audience listening – I don’t know if I would use the word “muse” to her, because I don’t know what it would mean to her at this age. But most people that follow the arts know that composers or painters are inspired by people, and of course Mark has been one of those for me since I’ve known him. There has to be a privacy level there, so I try not to go into details, but if he thinks I have, he’ll bring those things up!
So, I needed to put this in a story form. And because this is a song cycle for the 21st century, I wanted to explore the feeling that relationships right now can be very disposable. People call their divorce attorney so quickly – and I’m not saying that divorce isn’t the answer for some people, because it is – but, I do think there are people that don’t really want to look in the mirror and look soon enough.
Tash had friends all over the world that are from divorced households or were going through a divorce at the time of writing this. And what the kids go through, as we know if we’ve been exposed to it, is agony. When we were developing the character of Anabelle, Tash asked me, “Why do grown-ups wait so late to fix their problems?” I said, “Wow, I don’t know.” She said, “I don’t know why grown-ups don’t solve their problems before it’s too late. Mummy, quite frankly, it’s quite stupid.” And so I thought Anabelle should have a bit of that sensibility – she takes the woman to task and yet in such a way that the woman can listen to her.
When she and I discussed her involvement, she would ask me about the story and we would talk about Anabelle. And she would ask me endless amounts of questions; mainly things like, “Why do grown-ups not address their problems and drag children through them?” I said, “Oh my goodness, you’re like Anabelle.” She would look at me and say, “I am Anabelle.”
She wanted to make sure that Anabelle had an effect on the woman, because Tash has said to me, “Why don’t grown-ups listen to children? You know, grown-ups sometimes aren’t very good listeners and children maybe know some things that could help grown-ups.” And we thought, “Okay, let’s make Anabelle the sort of sage being, but with the voice of a child.” I thought nature coming through the eyes of a child, but a wise child, worked for the story.
I think I’m a pretty savvy producer. I make things work or they don’t make the record. I knew that I needed to have a shape-shifting creature, and even though she is a child, I knew she could play timeless. Getting a child to say some of the things that Anabelle says is tough, especially singing in pitch and rhythm. I knew what Tash’s gifts are and I thought that I could build something that would work for her instrument. She’s quite an accomplished actor, and she can sing. I needed somebody who could really act some of these parts, and I know what’s in her bow and quiver, so I designed the character around what I know she can do with her vocals. That was the trick.
I designed it, but she really helped me develop who Anabelle was. We were giving each other things. She had ideas about Anabelle as a character; she’s an actor first, music person second. She’s grown up with music – it’s in her blood, obviously. But she’s been acting for many years now, and I think she approached it in that way, who Anabelle should be.
I think the producer and the mother had a struggle, and the producer won – which was good, because she was right and she knew that Tash could do it. The mother in me thought, “Is she ready to take on the professional strain? I don’t know,” because it’s very demanding when you’re in the studio and you can stunt a budding artist’s growth if you do it too soon. As her mother, I was reticent. As a producer, I saw the potential. So I made the choice as a producer.
The mother can become protective, and I had to make sure that she stayed out of the studio because being overprotective in that pressured environment doesn’t really help; it can hinder. It was important to treat Tash as a professional and to keep the producer hat on. So the producer told the mother to stay out of the way. But Mark and I work as a team – we have since 1994 – and we closed the door and worked with her as professionals. She felt safe, but she wasn’t working with her parents. She really wanted to make it great.
Mark was on the other side of the glass, recording, and I stood by her at the mic. It was sometimes tricky for her to know where to come in. When I’m out on the road and a bit out of sorts, Tash and her dad will look at me and say, “It’s tough at the top.” There was one session with Tash where she’d been at the mic for two hours, and it was like, “Okay, one more time.” She looked at her dad and said, “Tough at the top.” We melted, of course, but she did a great job. It was something Tash wanted to do and I felt it brought an authenticity and closeness.
She wants to become an actress and has been accepted at the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, a school of the performing arts. She starts in the fall. She has been acting at Stagecoach for over three years. I have seen her in productions and she has a real comedic side. She has all kinds of accents and is a certain type of actor. She has an acting ability which is uniquely her own.
She’s been singing and acting since I can remember. I heard her singing in the shower and one of her cousins commented, “When did Bessie Smith show up in the house?” When you see Tash with her British accent and her braces, you just don’t put two and two together. She’s been pushing me about the musical and she realized she was too young to play any of the girls and she said, “Look, I could stuff my bra!” And I said, “Stop stuffing your bra!” So Tash is very proactive.
I’m not trying to follow in the steps of Judy and Liza, though I adore Liza, having met her, how fabulous is she? But Tash is on a really different path to mine. I was a pianist/composer first, and realized that I needed to perform my own works. Tash has grown up around music, but she’s sees herself as an actor first. I was never interested in acting. And the reality is that Tash doesn’t sound like me at all. She has quite a sense of humor but, for ten years old, she’s very in touch with – I don’t know – a 1930s quality in her vocal.
She discovered the blues when she was nine – that’s how she puts it – and if you talk to her, she’ll tell you that it changed her life. She told me, “When I discovered the blues at nine, Mummy, then it all came together and I realized what my path was.” She’s done school projects on Billie Holiday and Martin Luther King and she knows that my father marched alongside Dr. King and thousands of people in the ’60s for civil rights. Billie Holiday is absolutely her mentor, though she’s now opening up to so many – even contemporary – people, and she’s been totally inspired lately by Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” So although she’s getting training at the Sylvia Young School, she pushed us to do it. She wanted to go there, auditioned and got accepted.
I warned her: “If you want to be an artist, you must be willing to be criticized every day of your life.” I tried to talk her into maybe being a veterinarian. And she looked at me and said, “Well, you know, you followed what you wanted to do.” And I had to say, “Yes, that’s true.”
I wish she would be a veterinarian, quite frankly. This business is not something you would wish on a friend, much less a daughter. It’s not for a sensitive heart. But you’re in so deep by the time you realize how the business works, and you lie to yourself and tell yourself the business is filled with nice people… . It’s a very vicious business.
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(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori - Chapter 1: From Peabody to Pop, Part 2: The Prodigy)
Things got really confrontational with the people I was studying with. To take you to the next stage they want you to learn to read, but I couldn’t express myself as a kid because I was an ear student. And the whole point is, when you’re a classical pianist, you’ve got to read music. I knew that, but there is really, I think, a way that you have to teach a child. It was the way they taught me that was the mistake. The way they did it was to try to break the ear so that it would force me to read.
The problem was: you see, I had this ear. I was an ear person. They didn’t like me playing the piano by ear but I’ve always been better at following my own feelings. I’ve always trusted my ears. I came in playing by ear and could play almost everything I heard. I could hear anything and play it back to you verbatim. And I would improvise on things, and they don’t like that. They said, “No, no, no! You have to read.”
It was a very good, old school. It wasn’t like, “Okay kids, let’s invent on Bach here.” But suddenly I was told there was a right and wrong way to play. For me, religion was about right and wrong. Methodism teaches you to restrict your emotions. Music was my outlet, and when that freedom of expression became restricted, it stopped being fun.
They didn’t know how to teach that kid. To try and break a kid’s ear so that they’ll learn how to read – and you have to read to be a classical pianist – the way that they went about it made me hate it. They started me with “Hot Cross Buns.” I knew it was all over at the Peabody as soon as they gave me a piece called “Hot Cross Buns.” I was playing the scores of Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart, and suddenly they’re trying to teach me to read music by playing “Hot Cross Buns.” When you go from Gershwin to “Hot Cross Buns” it’s a bit of a shock. I wanted to play Hoagy Carmichael! You don’t take away a kid’s ear with rubbish like “Hot Cross Buns.” I was bored out of my mind. They lost all respect in my eyes when they made me play that.
You don’t understand that this is for your good. “How could it possibly be for my good?” There’s nothing that you could have said to that girl to convince her. She had no desire to do that. “I play because I love to play.” You think you’re being punished.
You don’t take away the thing that was the impetus for this whole thing in the first place. But this was 1968, a really different time. I think it would be different now because people are more aware of child psychology and they’re more aware of how children are people. They have their own thoughts and they’re very aware of what’s going on. They can actually tell us things that we’d never even dream of.
Tori’s mother, Mary Ellen Amos, says, “Learning to read music was the first difficult thing Tori encountered. She used to offer to do her brother’s and sister’s chores if they would play her music for her, because once she’d heard it she could play it by ear. She was in a group of students who were teenagers, and there she was, this little thing whose feet couldn’t reach the pedals.”
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…a unique, beautiful performance of “She’s Leaving Home” (The Beatles) by Tori Amos in Buffalo, New York, on May 25, 1996. [download the complete show at Toriphoria / yessaid.com]
(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori - Chapter 4: Boys for Pele)
Some of my girlfriends – liberal London girls – had a problem with the idea that I was writing a song called “Father Lucifer.” One of them heard it and cried and said, “You made him so beautiful,” and I said, “What if he is beautiful?” Shadow defines light. The shadow is where I hang out a lot because I like chasing and diving with those forces.
When I came home, I guess it was at Thanksgiving because I remember a bird and forks going down at the table, my father said to me, “Tori Ellen, I can’t believe you wrote this song about me.” And I said, “I write everything about you, what are you surprised about?” And he said, “No, but I’m really hurt about this one.” And I said, “Well, which one is it?” And he said, “Well, you called me Satan.” And I said, “No! I was taking drugs with a South American shaman and I really did visit the Devil and I had a journey.” And he went, “Oh, Praise Jesus!”
I have used hallucinogens to journey to another space. I don’t use them to escape, but as a tool. And they have been helpful, but only because I have been working with people who have been in the Amazon and learned how to have vision-quest. It’s the idea of going into your psyche and knowing it more deeply. It’s a complete wealth of information in there. I’m definitely a hallucinogenic girl.
I had to go in this record when I was trying to find parts of myself that I had not let scream and dance and have a tear. I went to go visit Lucifer to get my talisman, which means my little magic key that took me to the places that I hadn’t let myself go. That’s really about having a little tango, a little dance, with Lucifer. The idea that Dark is not a scary thing if you go in there understanding there is a purity in Darkness. There’s also a lot of distortion in Darkness. It’s a choice where you want to go, and I wanted to get to the truth, not to the drama and to keeping me from the truth.
When I went to Lucifer I learned many things. But that whole thing of, “He didn’t see me watching from the aeroplane, he wiped a tear and threw away our apple seed,” there’s so much religious reference and metaphor coming back full circle from the myths. A part of her loved Lucifer, a part of her tried to find him in so many men that couldn’t carry his energy. These little prince of darkness wannabes. Some of them are cute, but to visit the real energy force that has held the darkness, you go there with honor. And that takes a very big heart to hold the place of shadow. To visit “Father Lucifer,” to have a moment to dance, to go down in the dark, to visit with the dude.
“Father Lucifer” is really about going to have a cup of tea with Lucifer, which I had to do, to go to the space of shadow, to go where we hide. I mean I’ve truly spent time with Lucifer, the energy of Lucifer. So when I sing, “Father Lucifer, you never looked so sane,” I truly went to those places. Now, when I say “Lucifer,” I’m talking about the feelings that we hide from ourselves. Not the devil, not Satanism. A whole different plane. I am not talking about Satanism. That’s the distortion of those who can’t really claim the dark, so they become evil because they are not really claiming their shadow. I’m talking about the shadow side, the secrets of the unconscious. It’s about claiming in ourselves what we hate in other people. “Just go burn that girl, just go fucking burn her, she’s a fucking cunt!” Until I started bringing in my sin, my judgment of other people was so harsh.
I wanted to marry Lucifer. Even though I had a crush on Jesus. I flirt with the sun god, too. I enjoy that immensely. In fact, I enjoy both of them quite immensely. Lucifer was the brother holding the space for mankind/womankind to act out their fears and hidden secrets, things they won’t acknowledge. That’s what the shadow is, the side that’s been denied, and once you don’t deny your shadow anymore then it’s not a perversion of that energy source. I don’t consider Lucifer an evil force. We can all tap into that free-running current of distorted energy.
I’ve always said that Lucifer understands love better than anybody. You know he’s done a mean tango with Greta Garbo a few times. Really understanding love is the only way you get to that side of things. I just always wanted to learn flamenco so I could dance with him. I wanted a great tango in the June summer with somebody really hot. There are a lot of cute boys around. It’s that quirk in their personality that makes my toes curl, and Lucifer’s got a very quirky personality. Although I think my mom would like to tag along and have a dance with him because she’s been a minister’s wife for so long! But this is not Hollywood’s view of Lucifer.
On some of my darkest days, he’s the one that comes and gives me an ice cream. I feel such a sadness from him. I cry and feel his presence with his music. I feel like he comes and sits on my piano. Yet this is a pretty serious being. I’m a little squirt when you think what a very serious force this is.
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