I haven’t purchased an audiobook before in my life but when I heard that Tori Amos would be narrating her own book ‘Resistance’, I wanted to hear her words from her own lips. Resistance is a difficult book to categorise because it is both autobiographical and a call to action without really giving concrete steps on where to go.
‘Resistance’ covers plenty of key moments across Tori’s life. From playing her first gay bars in DC as a teen, fighting record labels, dealing with 9/11 and a heavy bent on American politics. She interweaves all of these things with family anecdotes, memories and feelings about her husband, daughter, parents and grandparents. Tori includes these moments as they contain golden nuggets of advice and pearls of wisdom. Most of them come from her mother, whose recent passing seeps into almost every chapter. It feels like a part of ‘Resistance’ is helping Amos process that loss. As a result, the book is an emotional rollercoaster that is both deeply personal and incredibly relatable on human level.
All of these key family moments are soaked in various world issues that Tori wants to raise awareness of. From sexual assault and female genital mutilation to psychological warfare, propaganda and greasing the economical wheel. Her unique view of being on the road and absorbing all of these stories across the globe shapes a very well-informed view on all of these topics and many more. Her wisdom is so easy to scoop up as she gently and rhythmically reads each passage. With a slight gravel croak, she is able to sit in the position of mother, daughter, friend, confidant and activist. She gives you the keys to all kinds of different clubs and like many of her songs, you’ll probably be drawn to some chapters more than others at different periods of time.
Each chapter starts, and sometimes ends, with one of Tori Amos’ songs lyrics, which she reads out passionately. Where they are placed in the book shines so much new light on many of the tracks. Some of the esoteric and cryptic messages decode in front of you. What I wasn’t prepared for was just out emotion Tori would be in these readings. There are moments where I am certain she is crying. There are other moments where she repeats lines almost possessed or where she retreats to a tiny whisper. Intonation is a revealing and often intriguing mistress and these readings have been an absolute delight.
‘Resistance’ was marketed as a call to action for artists to keep going during such desperate and crazy times. This element is perhaps the least clearly defined. Much of the book returns to the mantra of staying true to your own elements, not diluting your efforts but instead understanding how to deliver variations of your work to breakthrough. My takeaway from this element of the book is that it works both ways. You can tweak your art to suit the audience but you can also tweak the daily grind to insert your own variation into the world wherever you go. Every story and every development is vulnerable and worthwhile listening to but it may need time to stand on its own two feet.
Ultimately though, this is a book about resistance, perseverance and resilience to keep creating through dark times. It is both enlightening and enriching as a story that bounces between different time periods, emotions and topics. Will it help you channel your art? I’m not entirely sure. Will it inspire you and give you comfort in times of need and disillusionment? You bet your life it will.
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