Jul. 22nd, 2009

martinlivings: (Me)
There's been a lot of blogging in my local arc of the blogosphere on female appreciation month, which is making me feel really bad. I look at my CD and book collections, and realise that I'm exactly what's wrong with the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time. It's almost entirely male. I'd say it's because I'm a bloke myself, and therefore, deep down, a sexist pig, but only half the CDs and books are actually mine, the other half are Izz's. So where does it all go wrong? Is it down to the type of music that we like, a type of music that, by and large, isn't produced by female artists? Does prejudice influence taste, or does taste influence prejudice? It's a chicken-and-egg situation, but either way, it ain't good.

The problem is, I've listened to almost all of the female recording artists that are being mentioned, some of them fairly extensively, and I have to say, none of them press my buttons, or at least not my good buttons. Some of them I quite like. Some of them I've entirely ambivalent about. And some I cannot stand. But bear in mind, that's the exact same reaction I have to 99% of male artists as well. So maybe it's just that my tastes are ridiculously narrow, and that, combined with the relative scarcity of female artists in that area, is what's caused this imbalance.

Having said that, my tastes aren't entirely testicular. So I thought I might one of the female recording artists who do press my good buttons.

And that would have to be Tori Amos.


Tori sings the number 1 song on the Hottest 100 of All Time...

I stumbled across Tori through her single, "Cornflake Girl", and on the strength of that bought the album, her second, "Under the Pink". It's a gorgeous album, surreal and full of metaphor and mystery. I still don't really understand it, but I know she does, and that's all that really matters. I went back and bought her first album, "Little Earthquakes", which is a much more literal, autobiographical and painful album. I challenge anyone to listen to "Me and a Gun" (sung acapella) without shuddering. I bought her next few albums, but they never excited me as much as the first two, and I've kind of drifted away in recent years. But those first two albums are still two of my favourites of all time.

What I like is storytelling in songwriting. And not just "I went and got some bitches with my homies, yo" kind of storytelling, but stories that have dimension and purpose. Not necessarily an agenda - that's something that puts me off entirely - but a purpose nonetheless. Tori's songwriting, for me, is like a female version of Trent Reznor's earlier work; pain and fear and love and everything else they're feeling, spilled onto the page whole without sugarcoating or censorship. It's sometimes hard to bear, but always impossible to ignore.

Oh, and she's a kick-ass pianist, getting as much emotion out of her instrument as she does from her voice and words. Like David Gilmour and his guitar, it's an extension of her, another voice. The playing on "Yes Anastasia" still sends chills up my spine.



Tori Amos is one of my favourite arists, full stop. And I really need to go back and give her later albums another spin. It's been a few years.

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Martin Livings

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