I remember listening to Tori Amos’s Little Earthquakes in college on repeat. My friends and I were floored by the raw emotion and beauty in the lyrics and music. Since that first solo album in 1992, Tori Amos has continued to write and perform. Her music is deeply personal, but it also speaks to important issues of the day.
Resistance: A Songwriter’s Story of Hope, Change, and Courage includes the lyrics from many of Amos’s seminal works paired with reflections on how the songs came to be or how events of the world caused the song to be seen in a new way. The songs aren’t static but change depending on what happens in the world and what the audience needs. In the book, she discusses how her musical journey related to historical events such as the Iran Hostage Crisis, played out when she was a teenager playing at a Washington, DC, piano bar, the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky Scandal, the 9/11 tragedy, and the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing.
About two-thirds of the way through the book, Amos shifts into a meditation on the impact of her mother’s death on her art and on the advice she would give to new musicians about being authentic and discovering their core message, especially in the face of pressure to commercialize or appeal to the lowest common denominator.
Personally, I probably would have been happier if the book had exclusively focused on the relationship of the music to activism. The transition between the sections was a little unexpected and jarring for me. I also thought that the narrative was at times too unfocused and stream-of-consciousness when I’d rather have a more direct approach.
However, fans of Tori Amos will certainly enjoy this book as will aspiring musicians and songwriters. As someone in the former category, I really enjoyed hearing about the genesis of some of the songs I’ve been listening to for so long and seeing how Amos reflected on the interplay between these songs and current events.
Resistance goes on sale May 5: look for it at your favorite bookstore.
Thank you to NetGalley and Atira Books for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.