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Tori Amos: Piece by Piece [Format Kindle]

Tori Amos , Ann Powers
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Descriptions du produit


Chapter One

Corn Mother: Genealogies

Ann: Our mother is the ground we stand on, and the earth itself is our mother. How many people have believed this, over the centuries? Society itself began with kinship, lineages marked by blood and love, while civilizations took root in relationship to the places where people settled and learned the land. The idea that the world was born of a woman is common in myth, across continents: in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, northern Europe, and the Americas, such stories abound. The Genesis story of a lone male God making life with a lift of the finger has achieved cultural dominance, but beyond that bragging tale of six days’ labor are others that present Creation as an ongoing process, undertaken by a matriarchal force nourished by her family’s respect and love.

Throughout the ages, people have chosen gods to suit their apparent needs; similarly, an artist can view her personal acts of creation in light of various sources. She can thank her ego alone, but that is dangerous—the limits of an individual’s personality can quickly turn genius into a dry spring. She can acknowledge her peers as inspiration, cite the demands of the marketplace and the influence of various schools, but influences not so carefully chosen also cannot be avoided.

Every artist is born in a place, within a family, and though she may leave those sources far behind, they remain within her. The achievement comes in acknowledging those origins without being devoured by them. The Cherokee have a story that relates to the need to find balance between personal ambition and accepting life’s offerings:

Selu, the Corn Mother, lives with her grandsons in the mountains. The young men are hunters, and Corn Mother provides the staples that round out their meals. The men want to hunt and hunt, and this greed for meat makes Corn Mother sad, yet she loves her descendants and does not challenge them. One morning her grandsons spy on Corn Mother as she makes the corn, which falls from her body whenever she slaps her sides. This terrifies the men, and they reject her. She withers, but before dying instructs them to bury her in the earth and tells them she will arise again as a plant that will need to be cultivated. Corn Mother does as she promises, but in her new form she cannot be blithely generous. People must learn to cultivate her; they must earn her fruitfulness. With this lesson Corn Mother teaches humankind the need for balance and the love of nature’s gifts.

Tori Amos heard the story of Corn Mother from her grandfather as a girl, during summers spent with him in North Carolina. The love of the earth was ingrained in her, along with an awareness that her own talents were a blessing she could not take for granted. Her Cherokee blood is one element in the complex weave of influences that created Amos as she grew toward the moment when she could begin, respectfully, to create herself.


“The grass. The rocks. The trees. Don’t care nothin’ about who ya are or who ya think ya are or who ya pretendin’ to be.” Poppa would be in fits of tickles by that saying. “And Shug . . . [what Poppa called me—short for Sugar Cane and Shush all mixed up], Shug, when ya think yer mighty like a mountain ya might wanta think of being a Rock Nurse. You didn’t hear yer Poppa say Rock Star. Or Night Nurse. I’m sayin’ Rock Nurse, Shug. Ya know what that is? That’s somebody who’s needin’ to take care of a rock for a year before they go and hurt themselves tryin’ to move a mountain. And after a year of being humbled by how much more a rock knows than Jack’s Ass, then they’ll be seein’ stars. The real ones, Shug—remember those?”

Conversation Between Tori and Ann:

My mother’s father, my Poppa, had perfect pitch. He rocked me to sleep ever since the day I was born, singing with a tone that reminds me of sunlight shining through black strap molasses. It was a pure velvet tenor voice. He and my Nanny had a town life—he would shoot pool, they had culture. I remember every Saturday Poppa and Uncle John would bring home chili dogs from the pool room so that Nanny would have a break before the big Sunday family dinner. Nanny was a four-by-four. Four foot eleven inches and 214 pounds. Poppa would say there could never be too much of Nanny to love. When no one was looking, he would bring her a flower that he picked up on his storytelling wanderings, give her a kiss on the cheek, and say, “This flower wished it was as perddy as you, Bertie Marie.”

Nanny grew the garden. It was tiny, but it enticed me because of the begonias and the honeysuckle. It was wedged up against the Lutheran church parking lot. Nanny didn’t want to unravel the covert darkness of a small town. She just wanted to uncomplicate everyone’s life once they came into her home and sat at her table. Nanny’s table would wrap its arms around you with soul food. The biscuits, the creamed corn, the corn on the cob, the corn pudding, the corn bread in the skillet, the whole thing. Fried okra, pinto beans, turnips, and mustard greens—“Sweeter than collard greens,” she would say. And in a way, Nanny’s love was in the food. It was very much that kind of twelve-people-for-lunch-every-day kind of thing. She was this warm, warm creature who wasn’t overly educated. When Poppa died, when I was nine and a half, she started to lose her mind. Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces” finally started to make sense to me then.

Poppa was born Calvin Clinton Copeland and answered to C.C. or Clint as a boy. But I only heard most people call him Poppa—at the shops in town, at choir where he sang every Sunday and collected pieces for his stories—whether inspired by the organist making eyes at the minister or the manager of the hardware store running off with the pharmacist’s wife . . . Poppa, unlike Nanny, did want to unravel the covert darkness of a small town while we all sat together on the porch snapping beans—Nanny, Granny Grace, Aunt Ellen, me, and my mom, Mary Ellen.

Nanny and Poppa each had a full-blooded Cherokee grandparent who was on the Eastern Cherokee tribal rolls. They were spiritually drawn to the old ways and chose to stay on their native ground. From the Smokies of east Tennessee to east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, they settled on old Cherokee ancestral land. They understood that this ancestral land was their sacred spiritual source, just as the Lakota will say the Black Hills are theirs. This is where I spent all my summers as a child.


Poppa wouldn’t give up on me.

“Focus on that tree, little ’un,” he would say. We’re talking around 1967, when I was four.

“Come on, Poppa, I’m hungry.”

“You almost have it. You can get this. Feel her strength. Let her tell you her story. Now sit still and let her play you like you play that piano.”

As I got older Poppa would push me.

“Can you hear the ancestors, little ’un? They are not happy today.”

“No, Poppa, I can’t really hear them.”

“Then ya just aren’t listenin’, are ya? Now don’t you roll those eyes at me. Yer gonna needs to know this one day.”

“Know what?”

“How to tap into a place’s power spot.” He would bend down with his hand, touching that sandy Carolina soil.

“What are you talking about?”

“Hum. Ya gotta hear the hum.” He looked straight at me as if I were being told the most important piece of information ever.

“The hum?”

“Yes, the hum of the Great Mother. Let this sink in. Every inch of this land has been walked on by somebody’s ancestors. That means there are events, conversations, killins’, singins’, dancin’—Lord almighty—squabblin’, you name it. It has happened. So ya decides first what ya needs to tap into. Find the way in. Ya must hear the tone. Follow it and yer probably at a vortex.”

“You believe this, Poppa?”

“I know this, Shug: the white man don’t know.”

“Careful, Poppa, Dad’s white.”

“Hmm. He’s Irish-Scottish. That ain’t white. They been fightin’ the white man who takes the land—takes the land till the Grim Reaper comes up and taps the white man on the shoulder and says, ‘No weaslin’ outta this one, yer time has come.’ It used to tickle your old Poppa to see a white man turn white as a ghost.”

“Okay, in English.”

“Most people nowadays, Shug, don’t see. Don’t feel. Don’t hear anythin’ that science can’t prove. A hundred years ago people said a man would never fly.”

“But he couldn’t.”

“Yes, granddaughter. Yes, he could. He just hadn’t figured out how. The Eagle Dancers knew man could fly. It was only in this dimension that the mechanics hadn’t been worked out.”

“So now we know how to fly.”

“Only in the physical, granddaughter, not in the spiritual. Back to your studies, and find me a vortex before lunch.”

“Does my hungry tum-tum count?”


I somehow knew that this was where I had to learn and train. Poppa would talk about shape-shifting, the practice of shifting the containment of the human condition in order to open it up to other forms of consciousness. We’d take walks every day, and he would communicate the way he saw the world, which was that there was life in all things, that...

Revue de presse

“Fascinating.” —Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Amos comes across as thoughtful, likable, and witty . . . With undoubted appeal to Amos’s legion of fans, [Piece by Piece] could offer additional interest to artists of all stripes, who may find reflections of their own experiences in hers.” —Publishers Weekly

“No mere star memoir . . . it’s more like a soul-map of Amos’s stride from pop tart to poet provocateur.” —Blender

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7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Un grand livre pour une grande Dame!! 24 janvier 2006
tout ce que vous avez toujours voulu savoir sur Tori Amos raconté par Tori elle meme!!! Un grand livre sur une grande dame de la musique. Une vie bouleversante, une facon de penser incroyable!! Dans ce livre, toute sa vie, ses chansons, sa facon de travailler... tout est raconté et expliqué. Une fois commencé vous ne pourrez plus décrocher. Si vous etes fan, à acheter et à lire absolument!!!
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Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  51 commentaires
50 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A backstage pass 8 février 2005
Par Luan Gaines - Publié sur Amazon.com
This book records an ongoing dialog between musician/songwriter Tori Amos (Little Earthquakes) and rockumentarian Ann Powers (Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America, Women Write About Rock, Pop and Rap. Through a variety of conversations, Amos discusses her music, her personal life and the direction of her career.

With sensual and stunning lyrics, Amos is a presence to be reckoned with, a young woman on the cusp of a great musical career with seven successful albums already to her credit. It would be a mistake to misinterpret Tori's passion as an expression of sexuality: "for her it's claiming her sexuality and merging it with her spirituality." Every performance is transformative, an expression of the immediacy of her emotions linked to the keyboard beneath her dancing fingers.

Piece by Piece is an intriguing concept. Using a multi-part format, the authors draw from a number of sources, a collage of thoughts, past history and musical perceptions that give some idea of how involved the artist is with her work, her family, friends and life as a musician and songwriter. Every aspect of Amos' like is examined, the personal as well as the professional, because Amos uses all of her experience to inform her music, the passionate expression of a young woman with much to offer. Amos imbues her work with the spirit of her soulful journey, cherishing her hard-one relationships with husband and child and the source of her creativity.

Powers witnesses Amos' words, often expounding on the meanings in a broader context of artist in the world, adding another dimension to the musical achievement. Surprisingly complex, Piece by Piece brims with unexpected insights, musical interpretations and a view of the world through the eyes of an artist who is not intimidated by life. Archetypes loom large in the discussions between Amos and Powers, who frequently wax philosophical, drawing from the universality of human endeavors and the innate need for connections with the past.

This is a woman who has chosen Mary Magdalene as her erotic muse. Looking to her own Indian American roots, Amos dips into the gospels and oral tradition for inspiration, a deep respect for the earth and a love of books, thanks to the profound influence of her mother. Myths and archetypes abound and women are central: the Native American Corn Maiden, Demeter and Persephone, Aphrodite and Venus, an appropriate counter-balance for Mary Magdalene. Amos views the challenge this way: "to be able to traverse pop culture's addictions to imaging, all the while infusing your pencil not with lead but with estrogen."

Both conversational and thought-provoking, the dialog is enhanced by a series of photographs and "song canvases", each detailing the evolution of a particular song. Published to coincide with Amos' new album, The Beekeeper, Tori Amos, Piece by Piece is the perfect complement to a body of significant work from Amos. Whether read cover to cover or a few pages at a time, this inventive book speaks volumes on the nature of creativity and one woman's passion to speak her truth. Luan Gaines/ 2005.
11 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating insight into Tori's world 31 mai 2005
Par Winston Banford - Publié sur Amazon.com
You'd think the life of a talented famous musician would be easy and full of luxury. While Tori enjoys her life, she works INCREDIBLY hard!! She describes constantly writing songs, even if it's just a few words, or a few bars of melody. She does this wherever she is. Plus she deals with the record labels, the lawyers, the touring, the book writing, raising a daughter....

She is an amazing woman; someone who sees the world and thinks about it differently than most. Every song has a deep meaning to her, and she views them as "Sonic Beings" that she, the instrument, brings to the world.

From the book, I can tell she is a good friend to everyone in her life. She treats her crew as best as she can, and she gives her musicians the liberty to play as they feel, not as she commands. She can also be tough as nails when there is something threatening her music or her tour.

While, as a Christian, I may not agree with her theology, I found it so interesting how she drew power from various archetypes and "gods and goddesses".

If you love Tori's music, and you want to know where it all comes from, and what circumstances in her life influenced it, you MUST read this book. I couldn't put it down. I finished it in 3 days. Some paragraphs I read 4 or 5 times.

Her last record label said she was getting "too old". I hope she's still up there on stage, or at least putting out music when she's 80!!!
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Beyond the songs 21 mars 2006
Par Sarah Murphy - Publié sur Amazon.com
As a fan of the music I really enjoyed Piece by Piece, but when I purchased it I did expect it to go a little deeper into her life than it did. Instead we got to understand her musical process, learn about how the music industry works and most interestingly, the story behind some of the songs.

While I would have liked to learn a little more about her life, this book gives a deeper appreciation of the music she writes and allows the reader to understand the musical genius she really is.
38 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 "The Story Of An Unfinished Evolution" 14 février 2005
Par The Wingchair Critic - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
'Tori Amos Piece By Piece' (2005), co-written with Ann Powers, is an examination of the manifold motivators that have allowed Amos, perhaps the hardest working woman in popular music, to successfully blaze a definitive and firmly etched trail across the face of Western culture.

As piercing, uncompromising, and deeply felt as the best of her musical compositions, the book is an outline of Amos' visionary philosophy as well as a testament of her personal and spiritual struggle. In no way a typical celebrity autobiography, 'Tori Amos Piece By Piece' may very well become a standard popular text and survival guide for all those at odds with the dominant and increasingly narrow "consensus reality" of the West.

Though the book, which acknowledges a debt to Carl Jung, lacks the harrowing originality and claustrophobic focus of the Swiss psychologist's 'Memories, Dreams, and Reflections' (1961), it addresses some of the same ground in more brutally honest and plainly spoken language.

Like Jung and Scottish novelist Muriel Spark, Amos is unapologetic in her belief that the human race is profoundly rooted in, and a continuous reflection and manifestation of, the Divine. Like those writers, Amos is both a student of and vocal witness to the active presence of Grace in human experience.

Amos is a self-identified feminist, and the book consciously addresses women's spirituality and offers numerous practical examples of how Amos has applied her own female-centered belief system throughout her life.

However, in the broadest sense, Amos' application of the myths of Demeter, Persephone, and other female deities seems to imply that these apply exclusively to women, when, clearly, the opposite is true. The lesson of Icarus' flight is an archetypal fable that transcends gender, men as well as women experience both actual and symbolic invasions of their public, physical, spiritual, and private beings as Persephone did, and, as in the myth of Demeter, periods of spiritual sterility, inertia, and emptiness are common to both sexes.

Amos appears to believe that people are wholly defined, and hence limited to, their gender; proto-feminist Virginia Woolf and the other progressive Bloomsbury intellectuals calmly, confidently, and continuously argued against this for decades.

As Amos is clearly well read in a variety of kinds of mysticism, it's unfortunate that she doesn't consider and address the transcendent individual in each person. Spirit, soul, personality, and character exist beyond mere biological gender assignment.

This is an important point, since the matter of gender, especially as it relates to aggression, continues to be one of Amos' blind spots. Like many of her musical compositions, from "Past the Mission," "The Waitress," and "Professional Widow" to "Little Amsterdam," 'Tori Amos: Piece By Piece' is charged throughout with aggression, a self-justifying defensive posture, and an open hostility of its own; as in the past, Amos doesn't seem to realize that most people, regardless of their gender or position within a specific hierarchy, feel equally self-justified when enacting overt or covert hostilities.

Thus, at least on the page, Amos frequently seems to lack a firm sense of the relativity of all things, and an understanding that all members of mankind rightly perceive themselves as vulnerable to the continuous waves of cause and effect that is human life. As the example of Amos' own puritanical grandmother should have taught her, any member of mankind, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, psychological mindset, or political ideology, is potentially capable of embodying and enacting tyrannical, fascistic, or oppressive attitudes.

A careful, inclusive study of the Greek and Roman myths clearly underscores this point (it was, after all, the female Athena who transformed Medusa from a "beautiful maiden" into a "terrible monster), which Ann Powers addresses when she writers, "Feminine power is not only a warm, nurturing thing. Furious goddesses have transformed the world since ancient times, laying waste to man's corruption, wreaking havoc until justice is served."

But here Powers indulges in wishful thinking and makes the same mistake that Amos does by suggesting that women--and ancient goddesses and other female archetypes of all stripes and colors--are predominantly benign and nurturing in essence.

Jane Harrison, Carl Jung, Eric Neumann, and a host of others have written at length about negative aspect of the Female Imago or the terrifying Devouring Mother of biological fact, which eats or otherwise destroys some or all of its young when unable to care for them due to disease, famine, draught, or other natural catastrophe. It is simply incorrect to state that all or most female aggression is pure reactivity to oppressive male behavior and thus at least marginally justified; Freud's extensive work in infant and children psychology pointedly proves otherwise.

Feminist scholars such as Margaret A. Murray and Camille Paglia have, to varying degrees, celebrated the fact that women have an intrinsic capacity for destruction and rapacity--just as men do. Paglia's interpretation of "Mother Nature" as indifferent at best to human life and suffering--a position underscored by the recent Tsunami disaster in Asia--is also instructive.

Even Kate Bush, who Amos has publically acknowledged as an early influence, released "Mother Stands For Comfort" on 1985's 'The Hounds Of Love,' a song which depicts an archetypal "Smothering Mother" nurturing and protecting the human killing machine which has sprung from her womb.

'Tori Amos Piece By Piece' is occasionally marred when Powers objectifies Amos to too great a degree, which makes Amos sound as if she belongs alone on a very high pedestal; such language violates the otherwise genuinely human quality that dominates the text. Musicians may find Amos' advice about the music industry, which rounds out the last fourth of the book, refreshingly brisk, blunt, and helpful.
14 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Not Quite Tori 4 août 2006
Par Emily C. Gori - Publié sur Amazon.com
There did seem to be something off about this book. The myth part seemed stark and seperate from who Tori is and how these roles supply the undercurrent of her life. It almost seemed as though these parts were written to make them paletable to the public - like the best-selling how-to-Pagan manuels that seem to come out at least once a month and have no real depth. Their essence didn't seem woven into the story - instead they seemed to be more like a teaching lesson and not as a spiritual inspiration or guidance.

The first few chapters actually aren't bad. I really enjoyed her talking about her Cherokee roots - but that could be that I have them myself. When she talked about her grandfather hearing the 'hum' I knew right away what she meant - and how she hears it in music instead of the steady harmonics of the earth. My ancestors did walk the Trail of Tears and I am amazed at her great-great-grandmother's strength at surviving in the mountains and then as an indentured servant. An inner strength that seems apparent in Tori today.

It is a shame that her story is main-lined basically - to the point were it looses the vividness that makes up Ms. Amos' world. I have read some of the interviews that she's given to the press and some statments that she was written before - and nothing in this book matches her unique speech. It doesn't feel like her, only a watered down version of events assumed to be 'normal'. There is a good portion of the book that revolves around her daughter, which wouldn't be a problem except that it feels like she's trying to convince us she is the mother society expects her to be. We learn more about her daughter then we ever do about her.

For the record, Ms. Amos doesn't have a problem with Jesus or with followers. What she has a problem with is Christianity and the Church because of what it's become. If you listen to her music, especilly 'God' you can almost hear the inarticulate rage of a child trying to understand and express the constriction she feels. Her grandmother was a fundamentalist, her father left med school to please his mother and became a preacher and her mother suffocated who she truely was in order to live in a Christian world. So it's understandable why she would have this rage. She almost steps off the cliff and talks about it and how it's shaped her - and then Ann Powers seems to pull her back from this unacceptable behavior and we never really get to learn more about it.

I do think that part of the problem seems to be Ann Powers, that somehow the way this book was written seems to smother Tori instead of bring her to the forefront. We only get to learn little bites of her life without ever learning why. And if you don't want to answer the 'why' behind something even once, then there is no purpose in writting the book.

I would recommend buying this book used or finding it at the library to see how it grows on you first before buying it new. The first couple chapters aren't bad and I did find the poem/lyrics to her mother "The Kindest Eyes" touching and very revealing as to how she views her mother and her early life. Probably one of the most revealing things in the book - and unfortunately one of only a few treasures.

It is an exceptional empty masterpiece.
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