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Happy Birthday, Tori Amos!

2003-08-22 - 8:18 a.m.

Okay, this might be the first of two entries today, as I started writing about The Amazing Race and I still want to talk about it, but then I looked at the date, and remembered that today is a very special day.

Today is Tori Amos' birthday.

Yes, everyone who knows me and reads this knows that I am a huge Toriphile. In fact, the current wallpaper on my computer is a still shot from the video for "A Sorta Fairytale," which features Tori getting a kiss from mega-hottie Adrien Brody. They play lovers in the video. I can't get over how hot that is. They got to see each other nekkid . . . Mmmmm . . .

Oh, I'm sorry, where was I? Oh yes, Tori Amos.

I could talk about my first experience with Tori Amos, how I was excited but not thrilled about seeing her; how she was, somewhere in the back of my mind, the bonus part of getting to see Alanis Morrisette. How, when she went onstage and began to pound out the melody to "God" on her famous Bosendorfer Grand, I knew my life was about to change. How, when our eyes met during her rendition of "China," it seemed like the entire world melted into a green haze and she was singing right into my soul. How, by the time she launched into the final verse of "Tear in Your Hand," I was thinking to myself, "This is the closest I have ever come to experienciing The Divine." And also thinking "Alanis who?"

But I'm not going to do that.

I could talk about meeting her, here in Texas, just this year. How I was waiting for hours in the heat and was about to pass out when she finally came out. How she signed my copy of "Brief Lives," the volume of The Sandman comics in which her lyrics appear, and promised me that she would put info about my peace rally up on her website. How she played "Scarlet's Walk" that night in San Antonio, and I hoped that she had brought out the song because I had mentioned to her how it inspired me. How I sat in the front row the following night in Austin, melting at her renditions of "Father Lucifer," "Putting the Damage On," "Carbon," and Don McLean's "Vincent (Starry Starry Night)," and how after the first encore she came to me, took my hands in hers, and thanked me . . . thanked ME . . . for working for peace.

I could tell you how my hands still tingle, but I'm not going to do that.

I could tell you how her music has followed me, been the accompaniment to my life and my art. How "Cloud on My Tongue" got me through unrequited love, how "Bells for Her" and "iieee" got me through being ditched by a good friend, how "Hey Jupiter" and "Marianne" got me through the toughest summer of my life, how "Winter" and "1000 Oceans," got me through the loss of my grandmother, how "Scarlet's Walk" made me realize the importance of standing for peace.

But I'm not going to do that.

What I am going to do is tell you why you should love Tori Amos, too, even if you don't like or don't know her music. First of all, there are very few singers I can think of who have a reputation for being as good to her fans as she is. I've seen this first hand, so I know it's legit. When I saw her, she obviously didn't want to be out in the Texas sun, signing autographs and listening to yet another set of worshipful anecdotes and requests for songs. She didn't want to give out hugs to the weeping masses. But she did. She treated everyone there with dignity and respect. The internet is chock full of stories from fans who have had experiences like these. Sure, there have been moments when she's lost her temper or been too tired to deal with everyone, but she tries to listen, differentiate between the myriad compliments and tragic stories, and look you in the eye. She takes a second to make you more than one of thousands of fans. And that means a lot to people.

That alone would be enough to put her in a class by herself, but with her music and her actions Tori Amos has taken a powerful stand against sexual violence. After being sexually abused as a child and later raped by a "fan" after offering him a ride home after one of her concerts, Tori closed off a part of herself that wasn't opened until years later, when she saw "Thelma and Louise" and flashed back to the moment when she was stripping in her car, tearfully singing church hymns to the man threatening her with a knife. She wrote "Me and a Gun" as a response to that, and vowed never to be a victim again. I've heard her perform that song twice, and both times the only sound besides her voice in the theater was the quiet sobbing of women who have known the pain and terror that she describes in that song. She has continued to face that moment in her music, confronting the anger (in "The Waitress") and fear (in "Baker Baker") that is has engendered in her. She took a love song, "Merman," which she had written for her husband, and made it into an anthem for the victims of gaybashing after the Matthew Shepherd killing. Her covers album, "Strange Little Girls," turned Eminem's song "97 Bonnie and Clyde" right back on him, and reminded the listener that there is a dead woman in that song, and a daughter who will have to face life without her mother.

Most of all, Tori helped found the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, a national hotline for victims of sexual violence. She and RAINN have worked together since it's inception. She has performed concerts and released singles as benefits for them, and RAINN auctions off tickets to her concerts and Tori merchandise every year. That's how I got my front row seats. This year, RAINN is giving Tori a birthday card with the names of everyone who donates money to RAINN in her honor written in it.

So, if you guys read this in time, head on over to:

and help out a good cause in the name of a good woman. If it's not in time, think about making a donation anyway. And I swear to God if ANYONE even THINKS about pulling a "No, contribute to THIS charity" stunt like certain people who shall remain nameless, you will face not only my wrath, but the wrath of every Toriphile in America. And a lot of them are pagan, and can therefore fuck you up from a distance.

So, in conclusion, I apologize to everyone I actually know personally for always forgetting your birthday and yet remembering a total stranger's. In my defense this has been posted on all the Tori sites for a long time, and I check them often, so it's hard to forget. Get yourself a website, or call me and say "It's my birthday, bi-hatch!" and I'll be sure to buy you a drink at the very least.

And also, to the beautiful, crazy, talented, compassionate, truthful, intelligent, sexy-as-sin redheaded shaman on the keys, I would like to wish a very happy birthday.

Happy Birthday to you.

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