Tori Amos will encapsulate her decade-long career with the release of a best-of collection on Atlantic Records on November 18th. Amos, who first surfaced with 1992’s Little Earthquakes, conceived the set — which contains two new tracks, (“Snow Cherries From France” and “Angels”) — as a librarian would, in an attempt to remember and restore some of her early work, presenting it in a cohesive package.
“I’m referring to it more as a ‘best-of’ because I think to have a ‘Greatest Hits’ you need like ten Top Ten hits,” Amos says from a Columbia, Maryland, tour stop. “This is more of a chronicle of what we know of Tori from 1990 to 2003 . . . So it’s from her perspective of the last many years, having traveled around the world and going through her own personal stuff. And the songs do that. Maybe it’s the closest thing to an autobiography of this woman’s life that there’s ever been.”
The album’s track list is informed by Amos’ narrative approach as much as her commercial successes. “It includes things like ‘Precious Things’ and of course ‘Silent All These Years,’ ‘Cornflake Girl,’ ‘Spark,’ songs that people might be familiar with on one level,” she says. “And then there are quite a lot of songs that I felt gave you more story and a bit of sizzle with variations musically. It had to represent a whole musical spectrum because that’s very much a part of the story. It’s not just the ballads. It’s not just what you heard on the radio.”
Two songs — “Mary” and “Sweet Dreams” — were originally slated for release on Little Earthquakes, but were cut from the final album. Amos re-tracked the songs with her current bassist Jon Evans and drummer Matt Chamberlain. “I don’t think they were brought to their zenith,” she says. “And I thought the songs were still valid.”
As for the new songs, Amos says she recently finished writing “Snow Cherries From France,” after years of failed attempts. And she describes “Angels” as being more situated in the present, the culmination of having played in piano bars for “that whole Washington set” since she was a teenager. “It’s a commentary on now,” she says. “The world after what we’ve been through the last two years and the state of play.”
According to Amos, the hardest part was not selecting which songs from her oeuvre would make the cut, but rather finding the original mixes. “Tracking down some of these tapes was an awesome task,” Amos says. “I think they might have been in somebody’s dorm room somewhere [laughs] . . . I’m serious, the libraries that were supposed to be taking care of the masters were not in tact. So we had people chasing down masters all over the world. We found some in — you’d be amazed — in like the playroom of their house. It’s like, ‘What’s “Winter” doing there?'”
Amos wraps her Lottapianos tour with fellow piano pal Ben Folds tonight in West Palm Beach.