First Tastes & Endeavors
“I do not struggle in your web because it was my aim to get caught.”_Fiona Apple
One thing I love so much about Fiona Apple is that she doesn’t seem entirely tied to the traditional idea of what a song is, what a song can be. Once I was listening to “Fuel” by Ani Difranco in the car and my kid goes “is this a song?” And I loved that he asked that. “Fuel” sounded different to him, not like something he’d hear on PBS Kids or the radio. I feel the same way about some Ani songs and some Fiona Apple songs too. Like Fiona’s song “Container,” the theme song for the Showtime show The Affair (which is ugh so beautiful and so good and I will write about it later, yes. McNulty! Pacey!)
In “Container,” Apple sings a creepy little fairy tale in a way only she can…without real regard for how a song should go or what it should be. It can be whatever she wants it to be. Absolutely. She sings:
“I was screaming into the canyon at the moment at my death. The echo I created outlasted my last breath. My voice, it made an avalanche and buried a man I never knew. And when he died, his widowed bride met your daddy and they made you. I have only one thing to do and that’s to be the wave that I am and then sink back into the ocean.”
Her voice scuttles along like a little sandy sea crab. When she sings the word echo it sounds like an echo. She sings I have only one thing to do and that’s to be the wave that I am and then sink back into the ocean over and over and over again, like waves crashing and crashing and crashing.
Some other Fiona lines I love:
“Your hungry flirt borders intrusion. I’m building memories on things we have not said.”
“Full is not heavy as empty. Not nearly, my love. Not nearly, my love. Not nearly.”
“Start the chase. I’ll let you win, but you must make the endeavor.”
“A fail to kiss is a fail to cope.”
“This is not about love b/c I am not in love…in fact, I can’t stop falling out.”
“My scars were reflecting the mist in your headlights. I looked like a neon zebra shaking rain off her stripes. And the rivulets had you riveted to the places that I wanted you to kiss me when we find some time alone. And then we can do anything we want.”
“I’m a hot knife, he’s a pat of butter. He makes my heart a cinemascope screen showing a dancing bird of paradise.”
“Oh darling it’s so sweet you think you know how crazy, how crazy I am.”
And ALL THE OTHER ONES. When she sings “I’ve been a bad, bad girl. I’ve been careless with a delicate man. And it’s a sad, sad world when a girl will break a boy just because she can” I hear a lot of women in these lines. How many poems/stories/songs/movies have women heard and seen where men treat women carelessly without apologizing for it or even admitting it? In an interview, Fiona Apple said that the song “Criminal” was about “feeling bad for getting something so easily by using your sexuality.”
When Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die came out, it was prettymuch all I listened to that summer. I had just started college when Fiona’s Tidal came out, in high school when Jagged Little Pill and Under the Pink came out, in middle school when Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip came out. I was raised listening to Madonna and Stevie Nicks and Pat Benetar…five years old and hearing “No promises, no demands. Love is a battlefield” coming from my TV. I didn’t know what any of it meant but I knew I loved the clothes, the dancing, the all-girl gang telling some dude they were fine without him and walking out as the sun came up. WE ARE STRONG. These songs/albums are My Jams. Songs/albums written by women giving you their guts. WE ARE STRONG. NO ONE CAN TELL US WE’RE WRONG. I’M JUST A GIRL, TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT ME. I’M THE FOX YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR. HELLO WORLD, I’M YOUR WILD GIRL. DON’T BLAME IT ON ME, BLAME IT ON MY WILD HEART. BOW DOWN, BITCHES. I WOKE UP LIKE THIS.
Strong enough to tell you exactly how we’re feeling, painting a vivid picture of it so you won’t get confused. I am lusting, I am hungry, I am murderous, I am rapturous, I am terrified, I am jealous, I am sad, I am stoked. We feel those things, we say those things in different ways even when a word never leaves our mouth.
“Last night I dreamt that I hit a deer with my car. Blood from its heart spilled onto my dress, it was warm…but I know that I’m your favorite and I said Amen.”
“I leave the party at 3 am—alone, thank God…with a Valium from the bride.”
“We’ve got a lady pilot, she’s not afraid to die.”
“The next time you say forever, I will punch you in your face.”
“Can’t give up acting tough. It’s all that I’m made of. Can’t scrape together quite enough to ride the bus to the outskirts of the fact that I need love.”
“This tornado loves you, this tornado loves you, this tornado loves you, this tornado loves you, this tornado loves you…what will make you believe me?”
I also really love “Shout it out to the night: Gimme what I deserve ‘cuz it’s my right. Shouldn’t I have this? Shouldn’t I have this? Shouldn’t I have all of this…and passionate kisses from you?”_Lucinda Williams.
But the version I’m forever attached to is Mary Chapin Carpenter’s because I was a teenager when I heard it and Mary’s voice is so calm and pragmatic. The lyrics are so reasonable. “Is it too much to ask for a comfortable bed that won’t hurt my back? Food to fill me up and warm clothes and all of that stuff? Pens that won’t run out of ink and cool quiet and time to think?” And no, Lucinda and Mary, it’s not too much to ask. You don’t want too much. It’s not overboard.
“I’m so into you, I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”_Which is basically SWV saying “I’m so into you, I can’t even.”
“Everytime I see your face I think of things unpure, unchaste.”_Liz Phair
“I’ve looked all over the place and you have got my favorite face. Kisses are as wicked as an F-16 and you fuck like a volcano and you’re everything to me.”_Liz Phair
“I don’t want anybody else. When I think about you, I touch myself.”_The Divinyls
“Damn, I wish I was your lover. If I was your girl, believe me…”_Sophie B. Hawkins
“That don’t impress me much.”_Shania Twain (which is basically one of my personal theme songs.)
“I love it, give it to me, I love it. Don’t give it her, you gotta give it to me. Me, me, me…I will have my cake and I will eat it too, just like you.”_7 Year Bitch
“You look like my next mistake…got a long list of ex-lovers…they’ll tell you I’m insane.”_Taylor Swift
“I crashed my car into the bridge. I don’t care! I love it!”_Icona Pop
“I need a little place in the sun sometimes or I think I will die.”_Patty Griffin (how I feel in the winter.)
“I want to be the girl with most cake.”_Hole
“And are you thinking of me when you fuck her?”_Alanis Morissette
“Boy, you best pray that I bleed real soon. How’s that thought for you?”_Tori Amos
“Tell me I’m your National Anthem.”_Lana Del Rey
I made A GIRLY SPOTIFY PLAYLIST and I’ll probably update it this spring/summer whenever I remember any Girl Song that makes me feel this way.
ALSO I love this LOLAWOLF song/video. “Calm Down.” Ilu, Zoë Kravitz.
What I try to do when I’m writing is say what I mean. It sounds easier than it is and I’m still trying to get better at it. What I love is women saying what they’re thinking, even if it scares men, even if men love it, even if a man never listens to it.
And I’m not saying that everything these women say is everything I am saying. And I’m not saying that they’re all my personal heroes in terms of how they live their lives. What I am saying is that I love storytelling, sharing, words that make me cry and laugh and think and words that make my stomach hurt because I’ve felt something. And things can be silly and sexy and romantic and weird and we can call those feelings out and holler them out or half-asleep and sleepy-whisper them into our lover’s ear and things like that always make us feel less alone and I don’t think humans were made to feel lonesome for very long. There are too many of us and we need one another too much.