Music

The Top Tori Amos Covers

Joe Vallese

Tori Amos is as known for her soulful covers as she is her original material, tapping into the essence of another artist’s words with as much -- and sometimes even more -- respect and authority as its creator. PopMatters offers a small sampling of some of her most compelling reinterpretations.

“Boys in the Trees”

“I used to listen to this song over and over, wishing I’d wrote it,” Amos once said of Carly Simon’s poignant reflection on adolescent desire and self-discovery. And Tori indeed assumes a sense of responsibility for this song as though it were own, performing it with great zeal, affection, and care. From the first lyric, all trace of vanity disappears; Ms. Simon would approve.

 
“Case of You”

Amos once told Keyboard magazine that she “would have given her right arm” to have been the one to pen Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece. Lucky for us, she didn’t.

 
“Daniel”

While covering Elton John isn’t a total reach for Amos -- she cut her teeth taking requests in piano bars in the '70s -- her emotional take on the tale of a Vietnam soldier’s homecoming is a marked example of her ability to step inside the edifice of a song and narrate from within. Now something of a rarity, this poignant cover took on new life during Tori’s Strange Little Girls tour, which began just weeks after 9/11.

WATCH VIDEO

 
“Famous Blue Raincoat”

To say Amos covers Leonard Cohen’s pensive epistle from a cuckolded man to his betrayer (“what can I tell you/my brother, my killer?”) would be inaccurate; she uncovers it. An early blueprint for her 2001 persona-shifting cover album, Tori sings from the perspective of Jane, the woman at the center of the triangle, and manages to create a new vantage point entirely without changing a single lyric.

 
“Landslide”

Though many consider the Fleetwood Mac original untouchable, the potency of Amos’ live rendition rests in its subtle evolution over the past 18 years, one that mirrors the song’s message of reflection, aging, and self-realization. “I’ve built my life around you,” Amos sighs, as she nods wistfully into the dark theater. And when she utters the obvious -- “I’m getting older, too” -- it elicits an uncommon sense of mutual gratitude and trust that bridges the gap between performer and spectator.

Next Page

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

Keep reading... Show less

Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image