'THE BEEKEEPER' Religion of politics fuels buzz in Amos' 9th album
Christianity is being manipulated by today's political climate, the singer-songwriter said.
By JOHN BENSON
Tori Amos is mad about Jesus.
The politics of religion have always played a large role in Tori Amos' songwriting.
Now, it's the religion of politics that has sparked the interest of this alt singer-songwriter, who released her ninth album, "The Beekeeper," this past winter.
As the daughter of a Methodist minister, raised in the Bible Belt of North Carolina, the alt singer-songwriter is well-versed on Christianity. And it was only when she looked around at the 21st century that she realized she didn't like what she saw.
The result was "The Beekeeper," a convoluted allegorical release that details Amos' discovery of tangled lies, mythology and political manipulation of Christianity. This leads to the beekeeper character's creation of six gardens of experience. Six is the magic number, linking both the shape of a beehive's six cells and the half-dozen days it took God to create the world in Genesis.
"'The Beekeeper' was responding to not the covert right-wing Christianity that we've known, but the overt right-wing Christianity that some of our leaders have been harnessing Jesus' teachings to support their agendas," said Amos, calling from Florida. "Therefore, as a minister's daughter, I decided to go back to the source."
What came next
For Amos, that source for discovery led her to studying "The Gnostic Gospels," which were additional teachings of Jesus discovered in Egypt 60 years ago, in relation to the New Testament.
She said this was a "jumping-off point" in regard to the direction of her new album. Already considered a cerebral singer and keen purveyor of melody and song, Amos said once she found her inspiration, the songs began to reveal themselves within a loose narrative.
"'The Beekeeper,' at its core, is marrying the Marys," Amos said. "The mother Mary, who was circumcised of her sexuality, and the Magdalene, who was stripped of her spirituality by the early fathers of the church. Not by Jesus but by those who claimed his work and reformed it to support their ideology."
Through this discovery, she felt a parallel between the misguided manipulation of power in the teaching of Christianity and the current political climate, whether it be related to a war or the role of women in society.
"An album is something that needs to be cohesive, even in an abstract, strange manner," Amos said. "It needs to work together and this was working because at this time, sacred sexuality is not something that many women feel that they carry.
"I've gotten more letters from women over the past four years about this division within themselves. A lot of them have jobs and are going to college and have careers lined up but they feel that they either need to choose the sexual self or the spiritual self, and they don't know how to join the two."
Whereas Amos' 2002 album "Scarlet's Walk" was viewed as a return to a more accessible Amos, which included radio airplay, "The Beekeeper" has largely remained under the mainstream radar.
Though Amos said she doesn't bother herself with whether radio stations play her songs or not, she does believe her tackling of the political and religious aspects has resulted in a backlash from media corporations that are interconnected with the powers that be.
"This is not a time of equality but a time where the patriarchy is not truly holding up Jesus' teachings," Amos said.
"So if you ask me, did I realize what I was getting myself into? Not as much as maybe I should have. I knew that I was playing with the honeybees, and I thought they would bring honey, but also the great thing about having the honeybees on your side is that they will sting those that try and control them."
Amos' hope is that her show Tuesday at Tower City Amphitheater will open the eyes of her zealous fan base, of which she has been queen bee for nearly 15 years.
"You know what, at a certain point, I'm a mom." Amos said. "I have a little girl and she's going to look at me in 20 years and say, 'What did you do? You call yourself a warrior and a fighter for rights and equality for men and women and children. So, where the [expletive] were you, mom?' So, here I am."