Is Tori Amos Bipolar?
“Caves of the unconscious…” – is Tori “manic depressive” – excuse the political incorrectness, “bipolar” – for feeling sometimes like she’s going to die because of suddenly horrible circumstances that force one to ask if it is really worth the pain, and at other times feeling like she could conquer a government? So far, she just gets called crazy a whole lot – even by her fans. I’ve seen this in many women – a need to make fun of the way she talks about the world – they blush, I think they secretly agree with her, but they don’t want to say so out loud for fear of being labelled. In that moment, the problem with the sisterhood, the loss of pride in uniqueness, the need to talk and dress and date the same is demonstrated. And when the goal is to be the best at being the same, it is no wonder that there is so much in-fighting, so much gossip, and so many games.
I’m guessing Tori will one day join the ridiculous lists of “famous manic depressives”, in ironic company with Thomas Jefferson, and less ironic, with Sylvia, Anne, Virginia, and all the rest. Though she has never tried to kill herself, at least she’s been raped at knifepoint – it seems near death is necessity to be a successfully adored, famous madwoman. While an incredibly talented woman is alive, and more alive than most, she is “crazy”. When she dies, she can then be called a “mad genius”, and suddenly the traits she bore as stigmata, red letters, the things people made fun of her for from childhood to old age while living turn into romanticized character traits and quirks that enriched her craft, or often, (claim to have) made it possible. Tori celebrates being a “different thinker”, though – she will not stick her head in an oven or act out the part of Ophelia, in real time. She celebrates her difference, you can see the smirk, she too finds the naysayers funnier than sad. She is comfortable, as she sings in a song on her latest album, “If they can’t call me crazy, by noon I’ll be pushing up them daisies!”
My favourite music video is for the song “1000 Oceans”. She tells the story of how this song came to her: she awoke next to her husband who had been depressed and distant for weeks after his mother’s death. She saw an African woman who led her to the piano, and she composed the beautiful song with the help of this sister in one sitting. The DSM would call this schizophrenia, when it is truly magick – music that has touched the souls of me and so many other men and women. How many Oceans are lost as women with the great power to interpret the static, to hear the tides, to see the figures emerging from the salt, are told they are sick – ill, of all things! – for being open to the unexplainable moments that heal the human soul? We are taught as children to fear these things rather than follow them. When I was a child, Chrissy asked me to follow her, and I learned to banish this other girl, from somewhere else. Only now am I learning to let her back in to me, to listen instead of shut my ears, to feel the wonder of being given this gift that we call “sick”.
After all, where is the worst place these ladies of a different realm could lead us? Down the stairs to a piano bench? To show us a place where we can breathe? To show us the keys of survival? Flat moments, sharp moments, and the infinity that lies between?