My Life with Tori Amos: Whose Music Changed You?

5 years ago

Originally posted on

One hot summer afternoon in 1998, my older sister picked me up from field hockey camp, and when I got in the car, she turned on a tape I don’t remember my exact words, but they were something along the lines of, “What is this?! This is horrible!”

She told me it was Pandora’s Aquarium by someone named Tori Amos. It was the oddest song I had ever heard, and for some reason that made no sense, I ran out and bought Tori’s album from the choirgirl hotel and spent the next ten years of my life listening to Tori Amos.After my sister caught wind of my odd purchase, she made me mixed tapes that included Tori’s songs including some b-sides like Silent All These Years featuring Leonard Cohen. My love grew and I next purchased Tori’s first album, Little Earthquakes, which was singlehandedly the most important album of my adolescence.

The songs spoke to me in a way no other music did, and, to be honest, the way no other music ever has. I lamented angrily during Girl and felt not-so-alone while listening to Precious Things. I created figure skating routines to Winter.

In 2005 my Tori obsession hit its climax. That year I met her at a Barnes and Noble book signing, saw her perform live on David Letterman and scored a front row seat to her concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom. In retrospect, I should’ve seen it coming.  I was worn out and wanting something new.

The last album I bought of Tori’s was The Beekeeper, and to be honest, I cannot name a single song off of it. Tori started wearing wigs and over producing her music. Her voice was edited out of tracks and I couldn’t stand it–they just sounded so different compared to her earlier music. I didn’t know who she was anymore, and I wasn’t coming along for the ride.

Ultimately, artists change but so do their listeners. I think Tori Amos helped me through a very difficult time in my life, and I related a lot to her music. I don’t think my teenager years would’ve been the same without her, which is why it’s hard to say I no longer listen.

Do you listen to Tori Amos? If you don’t, who was that one artist for you when you most needed them?

Originally posted on

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