"Don't you want more than my sex?" is just one of many memorable lines on Tori Amos' 1992 album Little Earthquakes, jauntily tossed off in the cabaret singalong "Leather." But it encapsulates the challenge the singer-songwriter posed to the music world 20 years ago.
Leading a wave of artists who would take women in rock from the margins to the center, Amos showed the world how a whole woman — brains, guts, heart and, yes, sex — could sound. At 28, Amos was coming into her own after a few false starts in the L.A. pop machine, and she went deep and hard into her feminine experience with a voice that murmured or screamed, but most of all spoke frankly and directly and seemingly right into the hearts of her fans.
Amos' delicate but rocking songs, built around her classically based piano playing, were revelations for generations of young women (and men) trying to figure out how liberation could be the stuff of a personal life, not a distant political movement. In funny, poignant, daring lyrics, Amos offered unflinching views of complicated romance ("China"), power struggles with men ("Tear in Your Hand"), family dramas (Amos' tender song to her father, "Winter") and rape, an experience she describes without apology or the need for pity in the a cappella "Me and a Gun." Two decades after Amos first uttered the words, "I hear my voice and it's been here, silent all these years" in Little Earthquakes' lead single, that voice still startles, moves and uncovers secrets.
Amos' latest album, Gold Dust, commemorates the 20th anniversary of Little Earthquakes by re-imagining a personally handpicked collection of songs from her catalog in an orchestral setting. Experience these new arrangements of classic favorites in an exclusive concert from New York City, broadcast live by NPR Music.
- "Cloud On My Tongue"
- "Jamaica Inn"
- "Purple People"
- "Snow Cherries From France"
- "Smokey Joe"
- "Putting The Damage On"
- "Taxi Ride"
- "Jackie's Strength"
- "1,000 Oceans"
- "Hey Jupiter"
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