Fiona Apple came to fame in the 90's during the Neurotic Age of Female Rock Empowerment. You know the sort, the Alanis Morissettes and Tori Amoses of the world. She basically gave a demo tape to her baby sitter who worked for a record company while she was staying with her father in LA. On the strength of the demo she was signed and became a huge star with her brand of introspective, lyrically rich, jazz-themed piano melodies.
Her lyrics have continually inspired me, defiantly rhyming and alliterating at the poetic end of the pop spectrum. Some of my favorite lyrics of hers include these from Tymps, off her third studio album Extraordinary Machine:
"Those boon times went bust My feet of clay, they dried to dust The red isn't the red we painted Its just rust"
and these from Fast As You Can, off her second, When The Pawn.
"I may be soft in your palm but I'll soon grow Hungry for a fight, and I will not let you win My pretty mouth will frame the phrases that will Disprove your faith in man So if you catch me trying to find my way into your Heart from under your skin -Fast as you can, baby scratch me out, free yourself Fast as you can"
And HERE'S the video, which you should watch to get the full effect of the way she sings them and their intended meanings.
After a while I always find I'm a bit like OK FIONA CHILLAX FOR A GODDAMN MOMENT WILL YA?? But she admits that the songs come from a need to get out her strongest feelings. Invariably lots of these feelings are of the negative variety. Consequently the lyrics, while incredibly poetic and rich in imagery, contrast with her rasping, almost desperate voice to a powerful, truthful effect. You know how some singers chat shit a lot of the time just for effect (COUGH! LADY GAGA!)?? I always get the impression that these feelings almost by-pass Fiona's body, coming straight from the most honest part of herself.
She often describes her songs as 'pep-talks' to herself, as was the case of the title song of her third album Extraordinary Machine. Her fourth album is on the way and here she is talking about that process of creation and the urge she feels to write and perform, stemming back to her childhood:
I found this over at Perez Hilton. I Know, sick.
To compensate, here's the Bugsy Malone inspired promo video for Fiona Apple's song Paper Bag.
Incidentally, this song is from her second album (released in 1999). The title is generally abbreviated to When The Pawn. But they are only the first three words of a poem Fiona wrote after reading an article that cast her in a negative light. In 2001, When the Pawn was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest album title ever. This was only topped in 2007 by a Soulwax album who's title was 100 characters longer. Pretty awesome though, huh?
Here is the full poem:
"When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You'll Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You Know That You're Right."