jason elijah
Be the Music: How Tori Amos Does Itby Richard Handal
Kate Bush: Before the Dawn2014 Tour dates
26 August – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith27 August – London’s Eventim Apollo 29 August – London’s Eventim Apollo 30 August – London’s Eventim Apollo 2 September – London’s Eventim Apollo 3 September – London’s Eventim Apollo 5 September – London’s Eventim Apollo 6 September – London’s Eventim Apollo 9 September – London’s Eventim Apollo 10 September – London’s Eventim Apollo 12 September – London’s Eventim Apollo 13 September – London’s Eventim Apollo 16 September – London’s Eventim Apollo 17 September – London’s Eventim Apollo 19 September – London’s Eventim Apollo

Kate Bush: Before the Dawn
2014 Tour dates

26 August – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith
27 August – London’s Eventim Apollo
29 August – London’s Eventim Apollo
30 August – London’s Eventim Apollo
2 September – London’s Eventim Apollo
3 September – London’s Eventim Apollo
5 September – London’s Eventim Apollo
6 September – London’s Eventim Apollo
9 September – London’s Eventim Apollo
10 September – London’s Eventim Apollo
12 September – London’s Eventim Apollo
13 September – London’s Eventim Apollo
16 September – London’s Eventim Apollo
17 September – London’s Eventim Apollo
19 September – London’s Eventim Apollo

Charlotte’s Gainsbourg’s cover of “Hey Joe” (originally by Jimi Hendrix) from the Nymphomaniac soundtrack. Produced by Beck.

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 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 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.

[pre-order The Myth of Tori]

(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori - Chapter 1: From Peabody to Pop, Part 2: The Prodigy)

Hot-Cross Buns

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.”

[pre-order The Myth of Tori]

Tori Amos - She's Leaving Home
159 plays

…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]

Jean Houston: The Urgent Need for Transformational Storytelling

(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori - Chapter 4: Boys for Pele)

"Father Lucifer"


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.

[pre-order The Myth of Tori; only a limited number will be printed]

Deepak Chopra at TED 2002

"Responding to Richard Dawkins’ earlier presentation on ‘Militant Atheism,’ Deepak discusses the relationship between science and religious experience in understanding reality, as well as our evolving understanding of God and the divine."

Bridging the Gap - An interactive Session With Dr. Deepak Chopra.

"Deepak Chopra interacts with the young minds of India."

(an excerpt from The Myth of Tori - Chapter 13: Abnormally Attracted to Sin)

"Ophelia"


“Ophelia” is a group of young women that are tangible, that actually exist, who choose self-destruction over creation, whether it’s scarring or being in abusive relationships. There are so many young women who come to shows with scarring. To have young college girls cutting themselves, that’s tragic. A lot of those women have been coming to the shows on and off for years. This trend has seemed to gain momentum over the last few years. I think it’s so complicated because they are trying to find some control, and if they can control their own pain, then sometimes that is the only control they feel they have in their lives. I wanted to crawl inside self-destruction and rewire it in songs like “Ophelia.” I think the song is really looking into the fact that there have to be other ways instead of harming yourself to find that control.

As a woman it’s hugely important to know what you’re attracted to and just to be honest with yourself about it. The song “Ophelia” is about a woman who is drawn to situations – not just men but situations – where somebody needs to have control over her in some way, and she hasn’t been able to break the chain of these people. She keeps choosing the same sorts of abusive relationships. They seem to come in different forms in her life.

“Ophelia” is about choosing to be with someone who doesn’t respect you and doesn’t value you. That leads us right back to what sin really is. What is sinful? It’s not what the church says to me is sinful. It’s me degrading myself, or somebody else wanting to degrade me and me allowing it to happen. In the song, it talks about breaking a chain, a pattern, where for people to feel powerful, they have to have power over somebody else.

Sometimes it isn’t a lover, sometimes it’s a boss, or you may have a parent or some other family member like that. You just have to find ways, once you’re not under their roof anymore, to decide, “Am I drawn to this for some reason?” Is there a pattern in your life where you’re drawn to people which you had never realized? It’s this chain or pattern that you have to break.

So until you yourself begin to know, “Why am I attracted to people who are like this?” then you can’t break free. Sometimes you’re not willing to look at this characteristic in them; you’re not willing to see it for some reason. And that’s the story of “Ophelia.” The question it asks is whether she will reach forty-five and still be choosing the same kinds of people to enable her to live the eternal victim’s life until she dies.

I do think that there are moments when you think that you’re out of that stage. But you can fall back into that self-destructive place. It’s almost a chain of being drawn to rejection. Have you ever wondered why some women, some people, are drawn to that regressive, invalidating sort of a relationship?

And sometimes you don’t even know it. I think in “Ophelia,” she’s not even aware of it because the traits are never exactly the same. Sometimes it’s pretty well disguised at first, because it’s not necessarily overt. It’s more covert, that idea of power. Something really simple, like the withholding of compliments, that her work doesn’t get encouraged, nothing she does gets supported. There’s that little seed of doubt that gets put in the “coffee” everyday. Just a little, a little bit so that you don’t even notice.

Sometimes I think that we take examples, as songwriters, we always take the most obvious examples instead of the examples that a lot of people experience. It’s never these harrowing stories and tales. It’s the details in life that as an observer, as a songwriter, you watch. You watch people in a coffee shop or at dinner you watch how they relate to each other. Usually it’s the subtlest thing. It’s never like “Bang!” “Punch!” It’s complicated.

We, as women, could choose to walk away from so much of what’s going on, but it seems as if we’re not making that choice, and I’m asking myself all the time, “Why? What have we, the older generation of women, not done?” Who would have thought that we could regress to this point?

“Ophelia” is not the only song to portray women who have run out of options. This album is trying to pass on how to survive in very dark times. But you survive by looking at the options, looking at not fitting into his world in “Welcome to England.” And it could be Virginia to Boston. In this song, England is not a place. She’s stepping into his world, but she left who she was behind

[ pre-order The Myth of Tori, due September 1, 2013 ]

Max Brooks discusses his book World War Z, and the real idea it represents, at the U.S. Naval War College’s 2009 Lecture of Opportunity.