literary journalism

Tori Amos’s memoir ‘Resistance’

Tori Amos launched her career at the age of 13, performing at Mr Henry’s, a Washington DC gay bar for tips collected in a brandy snifter atop the piano. Her father, a Methodist minister, accompanied her to the gigs; at first, the customers mistook his clerical collar for fancy dress, Amos recalls in her new memoir, Resistance. Later in high school, she played smoke-filled piano bars near the White House that hosted the “liquid handshakes” of lobbyists. “Even though I was not aware of the details, I was a witness to something dark occurring.”

Resistance eschews the standard formula of the genre (“rise, bling, fall,” as the hip-hop artist Questlove put it). Instead, it is loosely organized around 18 of what Amos considers her most political songs, including ‘Cornflake Girl’, ‘Jackie’s Strength’ and ‘Silent All These Years’. Each track prompts a memory about what inspired the lyrics or a discourse on an issue close to her heart.

She recounts the anger and grief she perceived when touring the US in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, including appearing as the first musical act on the Late Show with David Letterman after the terrorist attacks. She played a cover of ‘Time’ by Tom Waits, from her album Strange Little Girls: “And it’s time, time, time, that you love.” Ever since the invasion of Afghanistan that ensued, the United States has “been a nation at war,” she writes…

Read the full article online in the Irish Times

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