Feeling Like Fiona

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nearly every poem I wrote in college was in someway inspired by singer/songwriter Fiona Apple. Many of these poems were bad, really bad, but for better or worse, Ms. Apple was my muse. 

When I heard about the deluxe edition of her new album The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, more simply known as The Idler Wheel, I had to have it. Downloading some digital copy from iTunes just wouldn't do and here's why: instead of an ordinary jewel case, the deluxe version of the CD comes in a journal and with a DVD of Apple's performances at this year's SXSW festival, a poster, and two postcard-size prints. You had me at journal. 

The journal includes the lyrics to each track, handwritten by Fiona herself, some of her artwork, and even random studio production notes. I was eager to get my hands on this hoping it would give me some glimpse into the psyche of the mysterious Fiona Apple. She inspires me and I want to know what inspires her. 

As Fiona says in the refrain of the song "Every Single Night," I just want to feel everything. By delving into the pages of her journal while I listened to her music I was hoping I would somehow feel what she felt when she wrote those words. Silly, I know, but it was a fun experiment, nonetheless, as I lay in the middle of the floor (because I imagine this is what she does when she creates and because this is what I did in college) drinking in her lyrics. 

I must say I'm a bigger fan of her earlier releases, but The Idler Wheel, Apple's fourth studio album, is still a must-have for any Apple-head (yep, I just made that up) and both her voice and the music have a very raw feel to them that I love.

Fiona Apple inspires me because the music she creates is what I consider real art, not just entertainment. I've mentioned on this blog before that I believe true art inspires and transforms the people who encounter and understand it, even if only in a small way. Apple inspires me with her use of metaphor. Take, for example, this verse from "Werewolf": 
I could liken you to a werewolfThe way you left me for deadBut I admitI provided a full moonI could liken you to a sharkThe way you bit off my headBut then again, I was waving aroundA bleeding, open wound

Moreover, I believe that real art teaches us something about ourselves and Fiona Apple's music always does just that. Long ago, while listening to her lyrics, I discovered that I am not an easy woman to love. Fortunately, I've found friends and an amazing husband who are up to the challenge, but I am still keenly aware of this dark truth about myself. In "Left Alone" she writes: "How can I ask any one to love me/ when all I do is beg to be left alone."  Boy, can I relate to that. We writers can be weird that way. 

Fiona Apple was my poetic muse and later in college even inspired a number of my short stories. I hope that one day she'll influence a piece of creative nonfiction I write too. Well, actually, I guess she already has. 

What musicians inspire you? 


  1. I have to say I didnt like it when I first gave it a listen...I actually turned it off because it was bugging me...but I am gonna give it another shot!

    1. Yes, give it another shot and read the lyrics while listening. As I mentioned in the post, I prefer her previous releases and that's because this is the first Fiona CD that had to "grow on me" so to speak. I had to listen to it twice before I really appreciated it and that's never happened before. I usually fall in love with her albums immediately. But after listening again and really focusing on the lyrics I now really like it.

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