Book info

Piece By Piece (2008)

Piece by Piece (2008)
Author
Rating
3.88 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0767916778 (ISBN13: 9780767916776)
languge
English
publisher
broadway
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Piece By Piece (2008)
Piece By Piece (2008)

About book: Like many people who have read and loved "Piece by Piece," I am a huge Tori Amos fan. She has been the single most important musical influence in my life since I was 15 years old (over a decade now) and I adore everything she has ever released. Tori has gotten me through some difficult and dark times and has helped me to find and understand myself and for that she will always be one of my absolute favorite musicians. "Piece by Piece" is a must-read for any Tori Amos fan, but I would also recommend it to anyone with an interest in art, feminism, memoir, music or interesting non-fiction, really. There is so much amazing material packed into this book and it remains one of my top two favorite music related non-fiction books ever (the other being "Chasing Down the Dawn" by Jewel). Just like Tori Amos herself, this book is anything but conventional and she will challenge and engage you every step of the way. Journalist Ann Powers helped to edit the book and interviewed Tori for a lot of the material found within. I enjoy the fact that so much of this work is framed as a conversation, because Tori is always at her best and most insightful when engaging with others. I suppose you could classify this book as a memoir, but it is not told in a linear fashion and Tori's personal journey is only a part of the story. She has thought of herself as just one in a long and storied chain of great individuals, great women and great cultures. You will learn a lot about who Tori is through this book, but that doesn't mean she is going to give you a play-by-play of her journey to the top. She will tell you about her relationship with her beloved Cherokee grandfather, whom she called Poppa. She will tell you about Mary Magdalene and her complex and ever changing relationship with the religion of her Methodist minister father and all the other faiths and perspectives she has studied throughout her life. You will hear about the ins and outs of the music business and the cold, suffocating business into which the pure art form of music must constantly fight tooth and nail to find a place. You will hear about life on the road. You will hear about visual art and culinary art and romantic inspiration. There are fragments in which Tori will explain the specific origins of one composition or another. Each chapter is framed with a particular feminine force for creativity and life: so we have Mary Magdalene (the Erotic Muse), Demeter (the Journey to Motherhood), Venus (Creating a Public Self) and others. Listening to and reading the thoughts and opinions of Tori Amos have always made me feel so much more aware of my own femininity and my place in the vast sisterhood on Earth. My favorite chapter is that which focuses on composition. We get a real peek inside of Tori's head and the process she goes through to bring her girls to life. This is one of the best and most powerful pieces about music (and all it's incredible, powerful majesty) I have ever read. I have read this section in isolation more times than I can count and I get something new out of it every time I read it. I truly feel as though Tori Amos has a deeper connection with her songs than a lot of other musicians do, and that's part of why her fans fall in love with her work so very deeply. It's the same way I feel like Tori's relationship with the piano is beyond musical--it is chemical and incredibly intimate. She doesn't just play the piano. It is a very part of her soul. I could go on and on forever about why this book affects me so much and what makes it so lovely. It is beautifully written and Ann Powers serves as a great sounding board for Tori (I respect the hell out of Ann as a writer and feminist in her own right). It teaches me things and brings on great floods of emotion the way that only Tori Amos can for me. The book is unfortunately out of print, but get yourself a used copy online and commune with the goddess. Five stars.

Man, what a pain! This is a tough call. I'll go with the 2 stars and call it even, I guess.Unfortunately, I feel like I need to talk about my Tori feelings first. Curse it!Before reading this, I correctly worried I would find it all so annoying that I'd be sad. But I picked it up because I conducted an experiment where I re-listened to every Tori song that I've had since high school, which I can't say is every song? But is a few hundred. I just shuffled them around for days. I wasn't allowed to skip any, even the horrible ones, except for the song that used to make me cry really hard, just in case. It was a good idea, and giving the new songs some time was good too. And I saw some done in new ways; are you kidding me, P.S. 22? For real, doesn't that make you want to listen to Tori Amos? But really for each thing that makes me go YES, something else makes me go NO. The unfortunate penchant for role play. And she's kind of obsessed with being skinny. And I have a low threshold for her more dippy beliefs. I even like obscure myths and stuff, but it's just distraction here.Anyway. This book is not good, and it begins with this narcissistic problem. People do like to read one's thoughts, but they also read nonfiction for facts, and not facts like the name of the paint color of the studio in one's beach house. Which I think we get told two or three times, actually. Once is too many. It could all be less horrible to read if anyone had reined in anyone else, but that clearly didn't happen. Did the editor just give up?I think the editor just gave up. The problem really is the book itself -- Tori's annoying sometimes, but at least I still respect her a lot at the end of all this, and instead I find Ann Powers the lamest hack ever. BAD. The structure is ridiculous -- it's barely a book at all. And Powers's own insertions are crazy and factless. "The degradation of archetypes within contemporary society has made serving Dionysus a sloppy affair for many." THE WHOLE THING IS LIKE THAT. But. My favorite part to read was the chapter about touring, because touring is cool, and it was also the most grounded in reality chapter. I like someone telling what it was like when their driver got the upper deck of their bus torn off, and they still slept in it because they didn't know what else to do. And the historical ironies are kind of funny. Like how her first tour manager ditched her in 1992 for They Might Be Giants. You can't make that stuff up. My very favorite was probably Joel Hopkins, Security Director/bodyguard, describing his management of the intense fan base: "I try to keep a close watch on the vulnerable ones." Oh my gosh man. Like a biker with a kitten, that one.But see, that basically good chapter of a book is titled, "Sane Satyrs and Balanced Bacchantes: The Touring Life's Gypsy Caravan". Ann Powers, are you serious? Because I about have a conniption here with you.I think Powers's main crime, though, is not questioning one single thing Amos has to say. There are literally no follow up questions, or another point of view. Her authorial method seems to be: 1) bring up thing, 2) copy down what Tori says, 3) publish book. This makes for such indulgent content, plus it looks like total whitewashing over the slightly controversial pieces of Tori's history. It renders a book basically useless.The actual best chapter is the one about her relationship problems with record labels. How Atlantic warned they'd bury her by making her live out her contract, and when it was done, she would be too old. It's a long story, and her telling it is great because above all it proves that she is no dummy. Not at all.Too bad none of the people on this project with her could tell it.
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Reviews
Christina Bouwens
Remarkable study/autobiography of a remarkable musician/woman. Wickedly dark humor throughout, and a razor-sharp intelligence. No doubt other Tori fans saw this coming, but I often found myself struck with how many life threads and literary commonalities between the woman and her fans (namely, this one). I always knew she writes somewhat autobiographically in her songs, but I had no idea of how much she borrows from other people's lives as muse, and the way in which she writes about her close friends and family. How fortunate I am that my husband turned me on to her long ago. She's an amazing mentor in her own faerie-experienced Tori way: "[T]here can be room for a win-win among women, too. There can be room for more than one of us at a time. Many different archetypes are needed to complete the pantheon. Aphrodite can't be Athena and vice versa. To be jealous of Athena when you're Aphrodite is ridiculous. To envy Artemis' abilities when you're Aphrodite is not the right use of energy -- it's emotional cancer. I've learned the hard way." (PS. I've finally figured out what was up with the Pele pig-nursing! )
Tanya
I've gone from owning a couple of her CD's over the years to becoming more intrigued of her creative process. Thanks to a dear friend for sharing her box set I have become a routine listener. After reading Tori's book and engrossing myself in her music I think she may have just singlehandedly knocked out all of my top favorite live performers. This woman was born to create music and relay messages from a spiritual realm. Yes, her music is that deep, that moving and some may even say that disturbing. She is a natural role model for musicians and you get the sense that she really wants to heal people and nurture the younger generations acting as a channel for her music but rarely takes the credit as a brilliant musician. She delivers in-depth advice on how to maneuver skillfully in the music industry and offers some scary examples of her "musical children's" near-death experiences. Prince wrote SLAVE on his cheek, her advisers suggested she act out similarly, her response was brilliant! I found myself cheering out loud for her! Amos exposes the game and the players. This is one of those books I would encourage ANYONE to read to learn how one artist's divine deliverance of songs that come to her on the lips of spirits can speak to an audience and move them to tears based on their personal interpretations. She's a fierce and vulnerable woman who knows pain and personal suffering first-hand. Amos is not afraid to reach beyond her keyboard and communicate to her listeners "I can relate to that" but at the same time has learned to find her voice and who will rip your throat out with her teeth should she feel threatened. BRAVO!
Mateusz
First of all, I want to say that I love Tori Amos and I respect her as a singer, songwriter and a wonderful human being. “Piece by Piece” is mostly about myths, archetypes and muses that influence her songwriting. Still, I especially liked the chapter about the music business. I think every upcoming singer/songwriter should read it! I had no idea what’s going on there! Now I understand why TLC were broke while having #1 albums! I love the parts written by Tori but not really the ones by Ann. I guess even some of the fans may find it unreadable and difficult to follow but I enjoyed it. Actually, it made me like Tori – the human-being even more ☺
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