10 Tips For Living The Tori Amos Way (In Honor Of Her 50th Birthday)

Little Earthquakes, the album that rocked our teenage worlds, came out in 1992. Which makes us … old. And ot means we’ve officially been Tori Amos fans for more than two decades. Hers was roughly the third concert we both attended. It was the music that captured our souls (playing “Precious Things” on repeat opened up all sorts of possibilities for channeling our teenage angst), but it was her live show performance — a shock of orange hair straddling a piano bench– that solidified our life-long fandom. How deep does our love go? Julie once dragged her 15-year-old skater boyfriend to see Tori play and was devastated when he didn’t like it. For this very same reason, Ami began attending Tori concerts alone because “she didn’t want anyone to ruin it for her.” At one such concert, she ran into a former college classmate named Mario — you may know better now as Perez Hilton (but this was before he made his gossip blogger transformation) — who had also attended the Tori Amos concert alone for the same reason. On the occasion of her 50th birthday, two Tori fangirls (well, fanwomen now) break down how to live the Tori Amos lifestyle, which we’re constantly aspiring to.

1. Maintain your crazy hairstyle forever. We’ve all had that one hairstyle that we got when we were trying to piss off our parents. Only, most of us let our green highlights grow out. Not Tori. At 50, she’s still rocking the pumpkin orange hair she’s had since she was the lead singer of the synth-pop band, Y Can’t Tori Read.

2. Write songs about your most embarrassing moments. Most rock stars would try to hide the fact that they were in a Cornflakes commercial. If you’re Tori Amos, you write a song about it and put it on your second album.

3. Make your art in style.  Recording an album in a studio is so passé. Tori always hits the road when she’s working on an album. If it finding your creativity means taking ayahuasca with a shaman in South America, or moving into a hacienda in New Mexico, so be it.  For her third album, Boys for Pele (named after learning about the volcano goddess on a trip to Hawaii), Tori rented out an old church in Ireland to work on part of the album because she was “searching for an energy current” and a place to speak her truth without censorship, in a place that historically didn’t. honor anyone’s truth unless it was the church’s truth. BOOM.

4. Long-term relationships double as creative collaborations. Tori knows how to make the most of her romantic relationships. While dating record producer, Eric Rosse, the couple made Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink together. Not bad for a seven year relationship. After they split, she was working on her breakup album, Boys for Pele, when she fell in love with her sound engineer, Mark Hawley and eventually married him and had child with him.

5. Don’t be afraid to use animals as props. You’ll happily pose with a lizard or let a pig suckle breast on an album cover like Tori did.

Tori Amos suckling a pig

6. Wear, eat and sing about plants. Tori Amos’ garden has supplied accessories and endless creative material. On To Venus and Back, the lyrics to the song Datura” were derived from the plants found in her garden. Most of the plants in her garden had died, except for her datura, which she found interesting  because it was a hallucinogen. She loves her hallucinogens. Also, the limited edition package of The Beekeper groups the songs into 6 different gardens: Roses and Thorns, Herbs and Elixirs, The Desert Garden, The Greenhouse, The Orchard and The Rock Garden. The Special Packaging also includes a seed packet with a wild flower mix prepared especially for The Beekeeper, to compliment this garden theme.

Crucify Tori Amos cover

7. Treat fantastical beings like they’re real. In Tori’s world, you have conversations with your piano, songs have personalities and sometimes the devil brings you ice cream. See the the quotes below.

“On some of my darkest days, Lucifer’s the one who comes and gives me an ice cream.”

“The vampire in me came out. You’re an emotional vampire, with blood in the corner of your mouth, and you put on matching lipstick so no one knows.”

“I think that people who can’t believe in fairies aren’t worth knowing. “

8. Adopt alter egos, but never name them. Tori’s never gonna be the type of musician to announce that she’s now Ziggy Stardust or Sasha Fierce or Jo Calderone, she’s just gonna make a cover album of songs originally written and performed by men reinterpreted from a female’s point of view. Then she’ll create a female persona for each track and be photographed as each of the nameless girls. And that’s how it’s done. See: Strange Little Girls.

Strange Little Girls cover art

9. Inspire a comic book character. Even though Neil Gaiman insists that he created The Sandman character Delirium before he ever met Amos, he admitted to “stealing shamelessly from each other.” All you have to do is look at the comic once to see the striking resemblance.

10. Turn the worst moment in your life into an opportunity to help others. The song “Me and a Gun” was based on the night Amos was raped. “I sang to stay alive. Yet I survived that torture, which left me urinating all over myself and left me paralyzed for years. That’s what that night was all about, mutilation, more than violation through sex,” she said of the experience. In 1994 she turned her pain into power by co-founding  the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), a toll-free help line in the US connecting callers with their local rape crisis center.