Happy Birthday: Tori Amos

Friday, August 22, 2014
Happy Birthday: Tori Amos

It’s a shame Tori Amos has taken a break from touring ‘til November: if she had a show tonight, she could add to her increasingly large list of live covers and tackle will.i.am and Cody Wise’s “It’s My Birthday.”

Born on August 22, 1963 in Newton, North Carolina, Myra Ellen Amos – that’s Ms. Amos to you (what, like you should be on a first-name basis with her just because you listen to her music?) – technically released her first single in 1980, when her songs “More Than Just a Friend,” which helped her win a teen talent contest, and “Walking with You” were pressed as a 7” for her friends and family. Her first commercial release, however, came in 1986, while she was fronting a group called Y Kant Tori Read.

What’s that? You don’t remember Y Kant Tori Read? Hey, that’s okay: we just happen to have found the video for one of the songs on YouTube, so you can see – wait for it – “The Big Picture.”

Sorry, Tori.

Well, actually, we’re not that sorry: once you take away the Marilyn-inspired dress and what looks like an incredibly uncomfortable way to play piano, it’s still an incredibly catchy song.

Plus, it’s not as if most folks would choose Y Kant Tori Read’s self-titled album over anything in Amos’s solo catalog: looking through her many albums, it’s clear that we didn’t see or hear the real Tori Amos until 1992’s Little Earthquakes, which proved to be a tremendous opening salvo to a career that’s found her challenging people’s expectations on a regular basis even as she’s continued to deliver music that’s been often unpredictable yet still consistently satisfying.

As a birthday present of sorts, we’ve put together a playlist featuring a blend of Amos’s best work from her years on Atlantic, which means that it includes stuff from the aforementioned Little Earthquakes as well as Under the Pink, Boys for Pele, From the Choirgirl Hotel, To Venus and Back, Strange Little Girls, and a few other inclusions from various EPs and best-of collections. Granted, you may just find yourself revisiting some of the covers she did on her most recent tour dates – it’s kind of hard to resist hearing her do “Copacabana” – but hopefully you’ll enjoy giving this a spin, too.