BY Matthew Breen
November 24 2009 8:55 AM ET
On the release of Midwinter Graces, iconoclast Tori Amos spoke about the origins of her unlikeliest album, of re-imagined holiday tunes. Here she explains the title of Abnormally Attracted to Sin, her most recent album, and why she’s loathe to ever cancel a show.
Advocate.com: Your most recent album is called Abnormally Attracted to Sin. Where did your first notion of sin come from after growing up in a religious household?
Tori Amos: My understanding was very much about my grandmother who influenced my family. That was my father’s mother. She was a missionary teacher, and she was a very well read woman, a very intelligent woman. But she had certain notions about what a woman’s body was for. Her philosophy was that you give your soul to God and your body to your husband in marriage. That was her belief. My father, as a Methodist minister, has a doctorate in theology from Boston University -- not a stupid guy. So you had these well-educated people who were very committed to the teachings of the Bible in a Puritanical way, holding up the early church followers’ beliefs.
I remember a letter coming [to my parents] from my grandmother saying that she was worried about the littlest one -- referring to me -- saying that I needed to learn how to love Jesus. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t love Jesus. I did, in all kind of ways! But… she had been segregated -- her sexuality from her spirituality had been completely separated. I was a big believer in Mary Magdalene at five years old. I wanted to know her story, and I always thought the mother Mary had another story as well. So when I got older, I started researching ancient female archetypes and the goddesses, and at 12, I started to build my arsenal on all of these women in history.
Were you told music was sinful?
I guess when I was growing up, I remember Jim Morrisson and Robert Plant being [called] messengers of the devil, and Prince, and people like that later on. And when you look at how these specific men were able to channel that kundalini -- that sex magic -- the reason that their work is what is it is, is because there is a spirituality to them. Everything they do isn’t just about being vulgar. The church fathers weren’t really intimidated by people just being overtly demonic -- that’s kind of funny -- I mean it’s not a threat. What’s a threat? It’s when someone really knows how to… well the whole record is about erotic spirituality and taking those two and melding them together.