It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that Tori Amos' current release, "Boys for Pele," is an extremely demanding album. Full of elaborate metaphors and unusual instrumental textures, it left radio programmers cold and critics scratching their heads. Many predicted that the album would undo all the momentum Amos had built with her last effort, "Under the Pink."
But in the eight months since the album was released, "Pele" has not only pushed steadily toward double platinum, but fed the fervor of Amos' audience. In fact, going by the audience reaction at her concerts, you'd be forgiven for thinking that such songs as "Hey Jupiter" and "Professional Widow" were major pop hits.
Amos, naturally, is pleased by that reaction but not entirely surprised. After all, she believed in those listeners all along.
"When I turned in this album, the record company was beyond numb," she says, speaking over the phone from a Chicago hotel. "They all looked around the room, and the first thing they said was, 'Radio will never understand.'
"Well, radio didn't understand. But that didn't stop it. This record was platinum three months before 'Pink' was.
"But it wasn't about that. I sat them down and said, 'This is about my heart.' And they started to give me this look. 'Yeah, Tori. We know . . . And yet, how are we going to present this?' I said, 'Just present it.' And then it was, 'What's radio going to do?' I said, 'We'll find out.'
"But I said: 'That's not why I wrote this one. This isn't about that. This is about finding my fire. This is about standing on my own. And there are a lot of people that are at the point in their life where they have to stand on their own and face how scary that is.'
"Things are really breaking down right now. Emotionally, relationship-wise -- things that you thought would last forever aren't lasting forever. I said that the people that are going through that dark, on-their-knees descent will understand [this album], and hopefully, this will be a little [tool] that will help them to ascend and find parts of themselves that would give them strength. Parts that they were afraid, that I was afraid, to look at."
As for the fans -- "I'm calling them ears with feet now," says Amos; "I think 'fan' is a degrading term" -- she had a hunch they would get what the album was about. "When I thought about ears with feet," she says, "I just went, 'Well, my instincts say that quite a few of you are going through what I'm through, which is trying to find your own power. And I have to trust that some will want to take the journey. Or some are already in the middle of the journey, and this would be like the glass of red wine -- which, as we all know, is just a necessity once in a while."
Above all, though, Amos believes that a willingness to take chances and trust your instincts is essential to make meaningful art. "We're all progressing; we're not where we were four years ago," she says. "So you need to be current. You have to keep having an adventure. And hopefully, your heart's open when you put yourself on the line.
"When you stop putting yourself on the line, and you don't touch your own heart, how do you expect to touch other people?"
When: Monday and Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Where: Lyric Opera House
Call: (410) 481-7328
Sundial: To hear excerpts from Tori Amos' new release, "Boys for Pele," call Sundial at (410) 783-1800 and enter the code 6207. For other local Sundial numbers, see the directory on Page 2A.
Pub Date: 9/26/96