Tori And Drugs
Updated December 28, 2000
My Thoughts On Tori And Drugs
I wrote this after reading a discussion of drugs and Tori on the RDT mailing list. A fan named Anne wrote and expressed unhappiness with the fact that Tori said something positive in concert about hallucinogens. She felt that Tori should be a role model for others and reject these drugs. Others wrote back severly criticizing Anne's response. These are my thoughts on the topic. At the end of it, I include many Tori quotes from various articles so you can read for yourself comments Tori has made on this subject.
I feel the need to add a few comments to this discussion on Tori and drugs. Everything I say is IMHO only!
I think the issue of drugs is very complex, and simple answers do not cut it. I will admit that I was once very much like Anne, in that I condemned all drugs and would have been appalled that anyone I cared about would use them. I understand why she feels this way to a great extent, though I no longer think quite like that.
I personally do not take drugs of any sort, nor do I plan to. They make me extremely uncomfortable, and I don't want to be around them. There was a time when Tori's occasional drug use would have made me upset. Actually, it was Tori that made me look at my beliefs a little closer, something she seems to be good at! Here are various conclusions I have reached.
1) Our language is limited and we tend to group things together under the same name that should not be. 'Drugs' is a very misleading term. There IS a huge difference between heroin and cocaine on one hand, and pot and hallucinogens on the other. Plus our society legalizes alcohol, one of the most deadly and heavily abused drugs. It is my understanding that hallucinogens are not physically addictive, (though like almost anything, they can be mentally addictive.) I do totally condemn physically addicting drugs like cocaine.
2) My personal dislike of drugs was based on fear of the unknown. It is very interesting to look at why people fear something. Once I allowed myself to explore MY fear, the results were interesting. I realized that my personality is very addictive. I tend to take everything I do to extremes. (For those of you who want proof, check out my Dent In The Tori Amos Net Universe Web Page!!) I KNOW that in my current state, if I took drugs I would most likely abuse them and use them to escape reality. So I avoid them, totally (including drinking!)
3) There are some people with the maturity and ability to use the non-addicting drugs in a manner which enhances, rather than defeats life. I think Tori has this ability. She said that she does not do drugs recreationally ANY MORE. She may kid about them on stage, or remember back to the days when she did them more often, but it is obvious that tori is not some junkie. She has a firm grip of reality and her health as far as I can tell (despite a weakness for margaritas!) I think she is able to use them in such a manner that her life is enriched, not harmed.
4) This ability to use these drugs in a positive manner is rare in a society like ours that tends to turn everything into a cheap pleasure. Tori has made this comment herself. Drug abuse (including alcohol) is a huge problem. Some people can not have a good time without drugs, or they defend their drug use at every opportunity. These people are addicts. Tori is not, as far as I can tell, an addict. And the drugs she uses do have many legitimate uses, and are well respected in some societies. So the issue is very complex. The danger is that many people (and I think this includes myself) are not able to use them in moderation, or they use them as a way of escaping their problems. Same goes for other things, like food or sex! The key is self-respect, moderation, responsibility,and knowing your limits. These hallucinogens are, in my opinion, very powerful and potent things. They should never be taken lightly or just for the hell of it. I think drug use is a negative thing for many people because they ignore this.
5) Tori is not fond of role models. She says we should look to ourselves for all we need. We can be inspired by others, but WE are the ones in control. She has stated that the only issue she feels some responsibility for is rape, because of Me and a Gun. Otherwise, Tori does not feel the need to be an example to anyone, or to be preachy. But to me she is a great example anyway. She makes you face your true self. The important thing is getting Under The Pink, and facing your fears and self-worth. I think if you are inspired by THAT example, you can avoid the extremes of blindly condemning all drugs, or abusing them or taking them lightly.
6) I personally am still uncomfortable with drug use, but at least I now know why. Everyone has their boundaries and limits. I admire Tori and others like her who can make use of these drugs OCCASIONALLY for self-enrichment, and I ALSO admire people like Anne and myself who avoid them all together for other valid reasons. Hopefully both sides will stop trying to insult the other or say that one way is right or wrong. Right and wrong is purely relative in most cases.
Hope this at least stimulates discussion. I can only express my own thoughts by the way. I don't know Tori personally!
Yours in Tori,
Quotes From Tori About Drugs
The first batch of quotes below were posted in 1996 to the rec.music.tori-amos newsgroup by Angela Reid. All the quotes after that, from sources later than 1996, were compiled by Mikewhy.
It is very hard to get a clear picture of Tori's view on drugs, because her quotes range from talking about certain drugs, mainly hullucinogens, favorably, to stating that she does not do them often anymore. It should be obvious from Tori's behavior and career that she certainly does not seem to have a drug problem, and my guess (and it is only a guess because I can not speak for Tori) is that Tori may do some drugs occasionally, but not nearly as often as you might think from some of her quotes. Read all the quotes and decide for yourself!
From "The Deeper you Listen" by Scott Riddle
Tori Amos:Little Earthquakes was a little more like a diary and I didn't think that we needed that twice. This is much more of a group participation record. It's more like an Iawasca journey. There's a vine in the Amazon that takes you on like an 18-hour journey. It's an internal journey; it's not a drug-it's a journey. It's very sacred. It can be abused; I'm sure it's abused. But you get so sick if you don't do it right that I don't know if abuse happens that much. You can loose all contents in your body, even your cell structure for two days if you don't do it right.
It takes you on an emotional journey where you look at things inside yourself. One time I wanted to look at the way I judge-my judgement. And it was staggering some of the things I saw. I'm not even aware of how I judge other people and then therefore judge myself so harshly- what's good, what's bad? I mean, I ended up in the rose bushes for like seven hours somewhere on the side of a mountain. That's what this album is to me. (Little Earthquakes) was more of a voyeuristic type of record. This is not that. You have to become a character in order to understand it.
TA:I have to be grounded and yet at the same time, we're like on a mushroom trip. It's a very strange mixture of hallucinating and yet (being) lucid. It's very tricky. It's fantastic though, because usually when you are hallucinating you can't be lucid; you can't drive an 18-wheeler. But that's what I feel like doing. I'm up there alone at the piano, and I have to know what I'm doing. If I were off my face, I couldn't even sit at my stool, much less play with any feeling.
MP: Yeah! I logged in this morning to see how many there were and it was almost completely overwhelming. 702 messages is not something you sit down to read right away. There are a lot of people discussing your music and everything about you. One of the questions that was asked: At the Albuquerque concert, you told a story about two people you brought up to Taos and said that they had brought you the best pot and 'shrooms that you had ever had. The person wanted to know if you get some of your inspiration from the things you experience and if there is any connection to the way things were done in the '60s and the psychedelic music.
TA: Um, (pause) the most influential journeys I have had have been with Ayahuasca, the vine from the Amazon, the combination of that and mushrooms. It's very much a medicine woman, medicine man's journey drug, where you go inside. It's not a social thing. It's an internal experience. I experiment with things that are usually an internal experience, because that's just what excites me. And yes, it does sometimes give me visions. But my intention when I am doing it is very different than recreational. I don't do it recreationally. I do it to go do inner work, and I'm very clear before I do it what I'm searching for. That way, there's no abuse suffered and I don't rely on it. It's just one more tool that I use sometimes.
from Tori Amos interview, 9/11/94, for Internet by Michael Pearce
Excerpt from "Q" Magazine (sometime in 1995, perhaps April)
Source: GLY-1004 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"The first drug I took was pot. I was 12. I guess that seems young, but this was a different time. We're talking 1974-74. Led Zeppelin were kicking! It was a different tiem! When I was 12, I was smoking weed at a friend's house and my father came to pick me up early. And we'd smoked so much. I'm like reeking. I lied my ass off. I told him my friend and her brother had been doing stuff. But not me. Then we had to go out to dinner with someone from the local church and his son. Halfway through, the son, who was about 18, took me to one side and said, 'You are *sooo* stoned'. Still, I got away with it. The drug which had a big effect on me was ayahuasca. It comes from a vine in the Amazon and you ingest it. You know that stuff they take in "The Emerald Forest"? It's like that . I was hanging around with some medicine women and they suggested I try it. I was very lucid, but felt like I was walking around *Fantasia*, having a conversation with myself. It isn't like acid. It's more emotional, more mental. But it can grab you by the balls and just shove you up against the wall. I've been in a room with a woman who was literally trying to bite her own arm off. And this lasted for 15 hours. I wasn't scared--just scared that I'd make a fool of myself. The funny thing was, I kept laughing and laughing, rather than sitting in the corner being intense. Then every so often, I'd say, I'm in a really rough patch. And one of the medicine women would come over and reassure me that everythng was going to be alright. But it would keep on getting deeper. In the end, though, it was an educational experience. I learnt a lot about myself. I haven't taken it in a couple of years now. You can only really do it once in a blue moon. But the wild thing is that sometimes I only have to smell something and I'm right back there again, high as a kite. It just happens. I'm really ito moderation. Too much of anythin will harm you in the end. Too much sugar. Too much pasta. I'm into drugs as a teaching tool, which is why I only take hallucinogenics. I mean, it's not like I've never done cocaine, but, on the whole, if I can't see dancing elephants then I'm not interested."
Back to your lyrics. You often use colours to accompany your lyrics, actually typical thoughts of someone who has just taken drugs.
"My mother is an Indian, and once there was a time when mankind did respect the plants and the earth as a great vision, and when they neither abused the plants nor the earth. Today that has changed substantially. Even the Indians have started to make abuse due totheir situation. If you visit a reservation today, and I have lived in one for many years, you will find many alcoholics there, what is very tragic. But many think, that this is an escape, but it makes them unable to think. It is bad to see what became of many great people. Today drugs mostly serve as an escape from reality and you are able to experience other levels of consciousness and to reach other dimensions. I took drugs in a controlled way in the past to reach other dimensions, smoked pot, while listening to Jimmy Page and hoped that my father wouldn't catch me, but I think, that this is a part of your teenage days, especially when you lived in the sixties and the beginning of the seventies. That was a completely different time, the revolution of many young people against the bourgeois normal. An outbreak from the aims that once were given by the parents. The try to change something. Aims like humanity, the emancipation of the woman and also the equality of men, like it was shaped by Martin Luther King. And today? It seems as if these people have given up, these aims are just caricatures of themselves. The women have not reached their aim, humanity is a foreign word in todays society and hate for blacks and foreigners is stronger than ever. And then you see the abuse of XTC in London and recognize that this generation has not grasped the whole conflict. What sense does it make to load yourself with drugs so much that you are not noticing anything anymore?"
Grace, Feeling & Passion (source unknown)
posted by email@example.com
TA: Well, I don't, I don't... I'm not interested in taking drugs. I do hallucinogens once in a while for journey experiences.
AB: What's your favorite?
TA: Hiawasca. [spelling??]
AB: What's that?
TA: Amazon. A drug from the Amazon.
From interview conducted with Tori Amos by Alex Bennett on the San Francisco radio station Live105 on 7 Feb 96.
Transcribed by firstname.lastname@example.org
from a March 1996 Details article:
She's taken generous helpings of shrooms throughout her life: "I'm definitely a hallucinogenic girl."
From the Live In Toronto program on radio station CFNY on April 28, 1998 :
"As I was writing, I began to understand the songs themselves were pretty adamant that this was not just, um, instruments being put around the piano. It had to be fully integrated. There had to be a tension between the instruments and a relationship, And the piano really kind of you know, sat me down and said "I am capable of playing with other players. I am capable of having to hold my own." And I knew we'd really have to practice hard to play with a caliber of players I wanted to play with. But there's no...there's nothing that gets you off more as a musician than playing with people you respect. You know, there's no drug that gives you that... there's nothing , it's just like, I can't wait to play with them tonight. I mean, I just wait till we get through the day so that at 9 or 10:00 we take the stage and these guys...I just look at them and I say "wow, I'm so fortunate to be with these magical men"
From Deluxe Magazine - May 1998:
"My problem with hallucinogens is that I want to take a booster. The problem with the booster is the speed aspect gets accentuated, not the good weirdy stuff. With Ecstasy it's like, oh no, I got that bit of it. I've taken it but not on the dancefloor, much more with a group of people. I've done it with with a few women friends I think you can talk about things maybe couldn't always talk about. 'I've been keeping this secret for six months but I gotta tell you now!'"
From CNN WorldBeat - June 20, 1998:
They asked Tori what she thought of the drug culture. She replied, "I think that....you know anything that becomes an addiction..anything can be, when it becomes destructive, that's a problem when it's running you, when you're not running it. I use alot of different tools to get to consciousness."
From Tori's concert in Raleigh, NC on October 18, 1998:
Tori said when introducing Father Lucifer, "My father told me he was disappointed in me at Thanksgiving dinner -- it was Thanksgiving, wasn't it, Mike? [Tori is talking to her brother Mike in the audience] -- for writing this song about him. I told him, 'Dad they're all about you, which one are you talking about?' When he told me I said, 'Dad, I wrote that after doing drugs with a shaman in South America. I was trying to find my dark side. The Methodist teachings didn't help much there.''' (Tori actually spoke variations of this story several times that year on tour, including Norfolk, VA on October 23, 1998 and Louisville. KY on October 28, 1998. She also told this story on VH1 Storytellers which was taped on October 24, 1998 and shown in early 1999.)
From Tori's concert in Binghamton, NY on November 10, 1998:
During the show Tori told her classic story about the song "Playboy Mommy":
"So while the guys change basses and stuff, I'll tell ya a little story about this next song. I don't do that much anymore, do I Matt, I just don't tell stories much; I've gotten shy in my old age. Anyway, um, the strangest thing-- (fans scream 'i love you' etc and she goes, 'yep, mmmwah' into the mike)-- so anyway, this little story: I lived in the tropics and the crew was down there and Marcel was-- I think you were nude, Marcel... Strange. Odd. And, uh, he had run into-- what did you run into-- a pier. Anyway, he was almost dead. He was on a (?) so we, of course we had loads of pharmaceuticals because.. that's ah.. that's our Goddess! That's the great American health food, heh, that's what I love. And of course, um, but only in moderation, balance. And of course, um, while all this was happening, you know strawberry margaritas going into the tum-tum, I had just lost the baby, and ah, this song started to come. And everybody started to kinda weave in and out of this beach house and ah, I couldn't finish it, for some reason I just couldn't. I wrote this first verse twenty times. I had my wisdom teeth out and I was singing it to my mother going, 'mother what do you think of these lyrics?' something about, you know, my head, and it hurts, and da da da da, just, she goes 'you're outta your mind, you just had your wisd-- this is terrible!' And I said, ah okay, thanks mom. And then it took me a while until I went with Beenie to a... champagne... you THINK I'm an alcoholic and a drug addict and I'm NOT! It's one of those things. It's not the same! But anyway, so I'm in the champagne, right, with Beenie and we were having an argument with one of her, uh, friends, there were four of us women and my god, four women together oh god it can be ugly. So um... cats for days and P.U.! Anyway, so there was a war going on and one woman was having her throat removed and um, Beenie of course was gonna win, and I just, I just came into my room freaked out by the whole thing and schmoozy me, my uh, spiral staircase, mm mmm.... So I come down in my Prada shoes and I trip all the way down the steps and I fall all the way down to the floor and so, uh, when I looked at Beenie and said (sings) 'in my platforms i hit the floor'..."
From INsite Magazine - December 1998:
Q: A lot of people have been saying that, as you've expanded outward both sonically and lyrically, the music has gotten more dense. Is that something you've been conscious of? Tori: "People were saying that more on Boys for Pele, which is more of a hallucinogenic sort of record anyway. That's really about, I'd say, almost like an Iowaska journey, which I was doing a lot before then...Not a lot, but I'd taken quite a few journeys with this elixir from the Amazon. It's like an 18-hour journey where you have to really go, and you don't know where you're going to go. It's an emotional trip that I think takes you into parts of your psyche that...well, shocked me, anyway. It's really about facing hidden things in yourself. Pele was really about becoming a woman, and it is symbolic. Choirgirl, I think, is pretty direct, so I don't think that I'm getting more cryptic. I think some works are intentionally symbolic and some aren't as much. So it's not like every work is going further away from being direct, just that some should be and some shouldn't be."
From The Rosie O'Donnell Show - October 20, 1999:
Tori appeared on the Rosie O'Donnell Show and talked about getting arrested at the German border because her friend had some pot on her. You can read the full transcript here.
From squire Magazine - October 1999:
Q: Used any hallucinogens recently?
Tori: "Not very recently. I have Datura in my garden, but my gardener told me that some people oversteep it in water and then it's poison and you die. I did a few 18 hour trips with a Shaman in the canyons in LA in the 80's. I'm glad i did it. And i'd do ecstacy journeys with women friends, Things are said that i couldnt have heard or have said over a cup of coffee."
Q: And now?
Tori: "Wine is a passion of mine- that's my hallucinogen now. There's this thing in the States, that if you love alcohol or halucinogens then you're an addict. On one hand people take guns to school and blow up kids in classrooms, and on the other people are afraid to go home and have a nice bottle of wine, because they're afraid they'll be called alcoholics."
From Attitude Magazine - November 1999:
"I do miss the eighties. It was great, knowing that friends were on one hand dialling a charity and on the other hand doing a line of blow -- but not lying about it, being honest. None of us are this light and dark fantasy. What's dark to you may be light to me and vice versa.
There's that media-created thing that says that you're either a Chrisitian family type with 2.4 kids or unemployed junkie - that if you're gay or have taken drugs or whatever, you can't be a good person. Or conscious. I believe you can be conscious without those extremes. Some people are addicts, I accept that, but you know not everybody is. You can walk into realms of altered states and experience that and also drink water. Do you know what I mean? You don't have to crave an E tab every five minutes."
From Cosmopolitan Magazine - November 1999:
This is one of Tori's more controversial quotes on drugs. She uses the term "blow" which usually means cocaine in the U.S. and pot in the U.K. However, the context makes it clear that Tori likely meant cocaine. But we can never be for sure. Tori is talking about her band when she says:
"We would all just hang out, doing a bit of blow.... I'll get so many letters for that statement, but I don't care. The PC thing, that's not my scene. I lay it on the table. If someone is going to take their lithium, do a line, or read the Bible, go for it. As long as you don't hurt anyone else, it's all the same to me."
Which is not to say that drugs figure largely in her life. "Music is the best drug, but I have to know when to quit."
From The Times (of London) - September 21, 1999:
For those worried from the Cosmo quote above that Tori may be reckless with drugs, this quote from that same time period may put you at ease!
"Performing is the best high there is and I hardly do drugs any more. I've experimented like most people - a bit of acid here, a bit of Ecstasy there - but there is nothing like when you plug in on stage. I don't know what it does but it feels like having an affair with 5,000 people. Or like 1983 Margaux is flowing through my veins. That's my scene these days. I'm really into good wine. And I have to look after my health. It's a bit unglamorous crawling to the bathroom after some of those drugs."
From Record Collector Magazine - November 1999:
The interviewer asks, "There's a song on the new album called "Datura", which is a hallucinogen - do you experiment with drugs for your art?" Tori replies, "I think spliff has a very important place, but you see I'm not an addictive personality. I'm Moon in Libra. Moon is the emotional phase, so I'm always looking for balance."
From Tori's appearance on Studio Brussels, an alternative radio station in Belgium, on November 3, 1999:
Q: You thank a certain fearie for making space cakes in the booklet of TVAB.
Tori: 'Er, yes, (laughs)always.'
Q: Well, it's legal in Belgium, so we can talk about it.
Tori: "Oh, good, ok, good. It went down really well in Cornwall. We had them about every, er, I don't know, every couple of weeks there was a space cake night."
Q: And did you record after eating the space cakes?
Tori: (laughs) "Can't do anything after eating a space cake" (laughs again).
From Rolling Stone Magazine - The Dec 30 '99 - Jan 6, 2000 issue:
In the part of the magazine called the Millennium Party 2000, Tori says what she would like to place in a Time Capsule: "Three things: the White Album; a pair of my peach, pointed, leather Manolos, size seven; and a hallucinogen. Probably ayahuasca, freeze-dried, because you don't want the dysentery. It's an eighteen hour trip."
From Q Magazine - February 2001:
Tori is part of a section of the magazine about rock starts and drugs. Here is what the Tori part said.
Her kooky image was one clue. Her Cherokee image was another. But few people suspected that Amos would be such an enthusiastic convert to the mind-bending possibilities of South American plant life.
"It's not like I've never done cocaine before but, on the whole, if I can't see dancing elephants, I'm not interested," she said.
"The drug which had a big effect on me was ayahuasca. It comes from a vine in the Amazon and you ingest it. You know that stuff they take in The Emerald Forest? It's like that. I was hanging around with some medicine women and they suggested I try it. I was very lucid but felt like I was walking around Fantasia, having a conversation with myself. "It isn't like acid, it's more emotional, more mental. But it can grab you by the balls and shove you up against the wall. I've been in a room with a woman who was literally trying to bite her own arm off. And this lasted for 15 hours. I was wasn't scared- just scared that I'd make a fool of myself. The funny thing was, I kept laughing and laughing, rather than sitting in the corner being intense. Then, every so often, I'd say, I'm in a really rough patch. And one of the medicine women would come over an reassure me that everything was going to be alright......
"I haven't taken it in a couple of years now. You can only really do it once in a blue moon. But the wild thing is that sometimes I only have to smell something and I'm right back there again, high as a kite."
Please give me feedback, comments, or suggestions about my site. Email me (Michael Whitehead) at email@example.com