Illustrator - Storyteller - Coffee drinker
Back in 1991 I was in my second year of college and working as a busboy for a famous hotel in downtown Chicago... I was a kid that was not quite used to speaking English, who was always busy and always horribly broke. I had friends but still spent an awful lot of time alone, trying to understand this American culture that I was now a part of.
On a good night, I would get home around 11 pm. My apartment, near 35th and Archer on Chicago's South Side, was a roach-infested one bedroom I shared with my sister and her best friend (My sister's friend would stay in the bedroom while me and my sister would share the living room which was made up into a second bedroom)... I was lucky both of them were going out to party nearly every night, allowing me to be alone in the apartment to wallow in my sadness, watching TV reruns and those 1-800 numbers commercials that showed beautiful women in bikini, having fun and enjoying life.
This one night, after a long day of work and school and me, bored and tired, turn on the TV as most every other night and, yes... there were the usual reruns, the usual girls in bikini promising a good time if you call their 1-800 number, and the usual bad risqué dating shows networks would show after a certain time slot... there I was, nearly falling asleep when, suddenly, the screen turned bright white and, after a few melodic piano notes, this beautiful red-haired woman appeared, singing lyrics that reminded me of Kate Bush, both musically and lyrically, but it was someone else... it took me a moment to register that it was a 30-second spot promoting an album... an album called "Little Earthquakes" by a musician named Tori Amos.
That commercial left me stupefied. Those few notes played in that commercial never left my head throughout the night... it affected me so that, next morning, I got up and rushed to the record store downtown to buy that album. I hurriedly opened the compact disc right outside the record store and placed it in my Walkman and began to listen to it as I walked to school...
...and been in love with that album ever since.
Just like grunge a few months before, this record was unlike anything out there. It played songs that were so influenced by classical music but so clearly still pop music, with arrangements that were rich and complex and beautiful, and with lyrics that were so personal, so deep, that I felt an immediate connection to each and every song in the album... becoming instantly a Tori Amos fan.
Although this was an album by a woman and made for women, I felt an instant connection... maybe because I didn't quite found my place in this new foreign, scary land I moved to, or maybe because I felt at home with the album since it used a lot of classical arrangements I was used to (I was a classical guitar student prior to my moving to the States), in any case, this album helped me feel less alone and more inspired to deal with every day life. It made me feel alive.
Little Earthquakes is, to this day, one of my top ten albums. Other albums come and go from my top 10 list as I grow older and my tastes and views on life change yearly but this Tori Amos' freshman effort has remained on top since that faithful night I heard "Silent all these years" on that late-night TV commercial... and I doubt it will ever leave my list.
Thank you, Tori, for such a beautiful album.
Thank you for reading,