From the Choirgirl Hotel
Released May 4, 1998 (UK)
Released May 5, 1998 (US)
83095-1 (Double LP)
UK East West: 7567830952 (CD)
Germany East West: PRCD1050 (CD)
Japan East West: AMCE-2636 (CD)
Tori Amos, Matt Chamberlain, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Steve Caton, Andy Gray, John Philip Shenale, The Sinfonia of London, David Firman, George Porter Jr, Stewart Boyle, Willy Porter, Al Perkins
Highest Chart Position: 5 (US), 6 (UK)
From The Choirgirl Hotel was released in the UK on May 4, 1998, one day earlier than the US. As her fourth solo and self-produced album, Tori incorporates her own official band which includes Matt Chamberlain on drums, bassist Jon Evans, and Steve Caton on guitar. The band would also follow her on the Sneak Preview Club Tour (more intimate settings for the die-hard fans) and the Plugged ’98 Tour (upgrading to arenas), both supporting this album.
The first single from this album was Spark, and was one of the more radio-friendly songs to date. This album showed Tori’s more experimental side, toying with techno loops and classic rock rifs, while dealing with emotional issues involving her marriage to sound engineer, Mark Hawley and her 1997 miscarriage. The second single in many European markets was Raspberry Swirl; though in the US, the second single was Jackie’s Strength. The third single in the US was a Cruel/Raspberry Swirl, a double A-side release. The 4th single in the US was a remix single featuring remixes of the songs Jackie’s Strength and Father Lucifer. Tori recorded the new album in a 300-year old farm house in Cornwall, England during the closing months of 1997.
“There’s really no getting around it,” she begins slowly. “At this point, I’m talking about it more than feels natural. But, um, I was pregnant at the end of my last tour. And I miscarried at three months. So it was very….” Amos doesn’t complete the heartbreaking memory. Instead, her intense, moss green eyes lock onto mine as she whispers, “The songs started coming.” “Besides the emotional loss,you’re crashing on so many levels. And the drugs don’t take away the pain. Crawling into the pain(through the music) was the only way out, if that makes any sense.”
“I would sit outside by the water a lot,” says Amos when asked about the album’s rock influence. ‘ I have a little tiny dock on the river, sort of like Huckleberry Finn. Sorrow came and sat down next to me. And she would come and hold my hand, and I really began to see that sorrow understands tears. But she also likes going to raves, and she’s very multidimensional. And I started to see the depth of sorrow and that there’s so much calmness in being able to see all sides of it. And I started dancing with sorrow. That’s when I started, in my mind, to go with the rhythm.”
– Tori, US Magazine, July 1998
Q: It sounds like the songs are full of self blame.
T: There’s a level of that. (pause). There’s many levels to it. There’s also the level of saying I don’t want to face loss. I just don’t want to take the chance. (pause) If you love someone, you’re going to lose them at a certain time. You have to accept that Sorrow will be there. You better make real good friends with her, because she’s going to be there, especially as you get older. And after a while, Sorrow becomes the deepest part of the ocean. You know, there are times that Sorrow tells the dirtiest jokes…
Q: Sorrow tells the dirtiest jokes? That’s a fantastic concept!
T: She really does. I think Joy can be really snotty sometimes, too. I think she says, “Everybody wants me. I’m the belle of the ball.
– Tori, Details, August 1998
“I didn’t know when I was gonna make another record when I got pregnant,” she says. “I was going to put things on hold for a while. But the music became vital again, as it always seems to. Songs started to come, and they showed me different ways of feeling and expressing, ways that surprised me. ‘Playboy Mommy’ dealt with my feelings of rejection – ‘Wasn’t I enough to be your mother, didn’t you want me? Well, don’t come, then. Go choose some little right-wing Christian for your mother.’ It’s a human response.”
– Tori, Rolling Stone Magazine, June 25, 1998
“This time i felt the songs were a troupe,” she says of the new album. “They all have different parts. Some are hanging by the pool having drinks, and some are in Suite 17, and some are answering the phone. But they’re all in the same hotel. I saw them as individuals. They work separately from each other, but they know each other.”
– Tori, British Airways Highlife Magazine, May 1998
“You know when you’ve cried and cried, and you really cant cry anymore, so you’re very quiet?” says Amos. “I started hearing the water. And ‘Pandora’ – the last song on the record – came to me. She was sort of warning me that there are so many feelings under the rocks that I needed to turn into. She told me, “You need to dive into this one, Tori, because your healing is in there. Once you go, it’s a whole new journey, but you’ve got to metaphorically leave this little dock and come with me to find out what’s really in this ocean of feelings.” “So I did. And that’s where I met these songs,” she says. “I knew I wasn’t going to find a lot of answers from philosophical camp, because it’s empty. What started comforting were the songs.”
“On this record I really spent time with sorrow, and I realized that she’s got a shoe collection, too,” says Amos, in a classic piece of Tori-speak. “She can tell jokes like nobody. Her view isn’t always about tears, but she knows tears. She understands them. But she’s really comfortable putting her feet off the dock with me in the water, looking at the jellyfish and finding the beauty. I think in the end this record is very much about dancing with sorrow.”
– Tori, Alternative Press Magazine, July 1998
“Each song would show me a certain side of herself because of what I was going through. So a song like ‘Cruel’ came to me out of my anger. ‘She’s Your Cocaine’ and ‘iieee’ came out of a sense of loss and sacrifice. And other songs celebrated the fact that I found a new appreciation for life through this loss.”
“There’s a deep love on this record. This is not a victim’s record. It deals with sadness but it’s a passionate record — for life, for the life force. And a respect for the miracle of life.”
– Tori, Jam!, March 24, 1998