I’m a studier – when I don’t know how to do something, I read and watch and absorb as much as I can until I have learned how to do it. And when all else fails, I try on my own. That’s how it was with learning how to sing along to one of my favorite opera songs, languages that always eluded me (conversationoal French and Spanish, now in my repertoire alongside German ), and sports. But something I could never quite master – the piano.
My grandmother had an upright in her garage. Between games of ping pong and horseshoes during the holidays we’d all try our hand at the keys, but I never quite mastered it beyond “Chopsticks” and “Heart and Soul.” Maybe if I had taken lessons and not spent so much time on the soccer field as a kid I may be a great musician today. Who knows. But what I do know is this: I’ve always envied those who can sit at a piano and take the listener to another world simply by traveling their fingers up and down the ivories. I think my first memory of piano envy was “Bennie and the Jets.” Elton John made the playing the piano look so easy.
A handful of popular artists have made their exquisite mastery of the piano part of their act – Billy Joel obviously a favorite to many, but in recent years Coldplay’s Chris Martin made the piano cool to a whole new group of music lovers. “Trouble” is an amazing use of piano in popular music. But Tori Amos …now she is truly one of the more truly unique performers whose use of piano in the song as the more powerful of the two instruments, the first being voice.
“Pretty Good Year” still sends chills up my arms (partly because of her exquisite vocal/piano pairing, and partly because of when I first heard that song and the memory that is connected to). But the flame haired chanteuse holds a special place in my musical heart. I passionately envy her because of her mastery of the piano and because of her ability to do something I have never been able to, makes me unable to do anything but admire her talent.
I’ve linked to the song above if you want to hear the song as recorded as a single. But I’ve also included below a video for one of Tori’s live performances. I’ve been to my share of amazing concerts, but never seen her live so it was a treat for me too watch and share with you.