This well-planned tome is as good as a backstage pass, an in-depth view behind the scenes of a talented performer, an ongoing dialogue between musician/songwriter Tori Amos (Little Earthquakes) and rockumentarian Ann Powers (Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America, Women Write About Rock, Pop and Rap). In a series of conversations, Amos discusses her music, personal life and the direction of her career.
Mary Magdalene is Amos' erotic muse. Searching 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."
Known for her sensual lyrics, Amos is a presence to be reckoned with, but it would be a mistake to misinterpret her 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. 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.
In this a multi-part format, every aspect of Amos' life is examined, the personal as well as the professional, 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-won 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.
Both conversational and thought-provoking, the dialogue 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.