Music News

Extraordinary Machination

Plenty of people out there are under the impression that Fiona Apple is, well, nuts -- but nothing could be further from the truth.

Take the memorable words she delivered at the 1997 MTV Music Video Awards: "This world is bullshit. Don't model yourself after what you think we think is cool. Go with yourself." Apple's declaration has been satirized by the likes of Janeane Garofalo, who built a routine around her words. ("This world is bullshit. And just because I appear in a music video where I am in my underwear and make young women feel not good enough so that they become anorexic -- and, okay, maybe because of that, I became popular more quickly than other singers who are, I don't know, maybe more talentedŠ.") But the facts behind Apple's pronouncement remain indisputable. MTV fame and fortune is bullshit! Wonderful, fabulous, sweet-smelling bullshit that untold millions would love to wallow in, maybe, but bullshit nonetheless. And Fiona noticed first!

Eccentricities like those noted in a recent Rolling Stone profile make sense, too, given a little thought. Using dog pillows in lieu of chairs, which Apple did for two years, is a way to experience how the other half (of the planet's mammals) live, and piling her clothes on tabletops rather than buying a bureau saves more trees than recycling newspapers does. Likewise, her Entertainment Weekly claim that "I was cast in the crazy role, and I was perfect for it" demonstrates a profound dedication to acting. So, too, does her EW admission that she was sitting on her "ass watching reruns of Columbo" while protesters were demonstrating outside Sony headquarters for the release of her latest CD, Extraordinary Machine. Peter Falk doesn't get nearly the respect he deserves.

Further proof of Apple's insight can be found in her lyrics and album titles, whose apparent loopiness comes across as extremely rational with a little decoding:

Lyric: "My derring-do allows me to dance the rigadoon around you/But by the time I'm close to you, I lose my desideratum" (from 1999's "To Your Love").

Translation: "Check out my cool new thesaurus."

Lyric: "I knew that to keep in touch/Would do me deep in Dutch/'Cause it isn't the rush of remembering/It's just mush" (from 2005's "Tymps [The Sick in the Head Song]").

Translation: "Got an excellent rhyming dictionary, too."



Full name of Apple's 1999 CD: When the Pawn Hits the Conflict 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 Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right.

Translation: "Life is great when you're paid by the word."

See? If that's not evidence of sanity, you're, well, nuts.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts