RESISTANCE by Tori Amos

I’ve been a fan of Tori Amos for a fair few years. She writes songs and creates music that no one else on Earth would make. Her work is sometimes challenging, often experimental, frequently complex, and yet always devastatingly brilliant. Amos writes about human emotion, not just love songs, but about themes such as sexuality, feminism, politics, redemption and religion. She has worked in the music industry for over four decades and, as one of our most brilliant artists, has a powerful ethic for work and creativity.

Resistance is her follow up to 2005’s Piece by Piece, co-written with Ann Powers, in which she explored her song-writing process and discussed her interest in mythology and religion, as well as charting her rise to fame and her relationship with Atlantic Records. Resistance covers a different time period in world history – most jarring of which is the Trump years of America, and Putin’s impact upon the people of Russia – and so it’s fascinating to gain an insight into what motivates her, what continues to point her towards creativity, what themes her Muses challenge her to confront. It’s obvious from the book that Amos sees touring as a way of experiencing life, of tasting each respective place via the tongues of its inhabitants. These are not merely a list of nameless concert halls in which she is performing, they are all part of the path that sees her grow as a song-writer. Even the set-lists are tailored to each individual town or city. She tries hard to engage with the citizens, takes an interest in local events. It was wonderful to hear an artist speak so passionately and earnestly about this impact on her song-writing process.

Of course, some of the prose can at times come across as a little self-indulgent and Important – but which artist cannot be accused of this from time to time, and surely we forgive them this flaw for the brilliant work that they produce? What can’t be questioned, however, is Amos’s unwavering commitment to supporting those in society who most need help, be it victims of sexual abuse or political repression, minorities struggling to find their voice, desperate people fighting the power structures of patriarchal governments and misogynistic regimes. She is compassionate and inspirational, a reminder of why artists have an obligation to use their platform as a force for good.

It was interesting to hear some of the intimate details discussed in the book. Amos is fiercely private, and it must have been difficult for her to touch on certain elements of familial history, but she does it in a way that gives distance to the more personal points and allows us to see them in the context of her artistic life. I found some of the advice and reflections on her creative process to be intriguing. It gave me a new-found admiration for her work and the inventive brilliance of her music. This is not a book that will appeal to everyone – it’s probably a prerequisite that its readers will need to know and enjoy the music of Tori Amos to appreciate it – but for those who are a fan, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of our greatest singer-songwriters.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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