Essential Music #16

What the hell. Tuesday’s musings about Under the Pink got me thinking about all things Tori. Even though I haven’t physically put on one of her CDs in years, it’s comforting knowing that they’re up there, boxed away in the attic, awaiting that day when I cannot go another minute without hearing a musical version of an Alice Walker book or a song about having tea with the devil. Which brings us to Boys for Pele, about which I wrote in 1996:

Because she rides her harpsichord as if it were an unbroken stallion. Because she continues to cultivate her gift for conjuring up musical mood and narrative that hang together and mean something while logically making little or no sense whatsoever. And because the photo in the CD booklet of her suckling a piglet transcends mere questions about bad taste and raises loftier ones about who knows what. 

Her third album proves F. Scott Fitzgerald right when he observed: “To most women art is a form of scandal.” 

Further cultivating her public image as freak extraordinaire, she employs lyrics as disturbing as “Sometimes you’re nothing but meat” and “I shaved every place where you been.” She seems incapable of not putting her credibility first as an artist, then as a woman on the line. She again scores admirably on both counts. 

(Seek out the “Hey Jupiter” CD single for the “Dakota Version” of the song. Industrializing as much as a piano number can be industrialized  and improving on the Boys for Pele take by adding some nifty background noise that might be a sump pump or a Jarvik-7 artificial heart, it now sounds like something out of a David Lynch film. Included among the four live cuts is a delicate rendition of the tune Amos was born to sing and which presaged her very existence, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”)

Leave a Reply