Confession time: I am absolutely crazy about songstress Fiona Apple, and I have suffered from this condition for around 15 years. Not only do I find her stunningly beautiful, but her rebellious nature and “fuck you-I’m doing it my way” attitude has always pushed me to reserve her a nice, warm spot in my heart. Now, being a slave to her music isn’t easy. Her debut album, 1996’s “Tidal”, hit the airwaves when she was 18 years old. She became a pop princess with hits like “Criminal” and “Shadowboxer”, but she never seemed quite comfortable with the designation. Often her mouth got ahead of her brain, especially with her infamous comments on the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards after accepting the award for “Best New Artist”. No matter, I listened to “Tidal” incessantly in 1997, and saw her perform live at Madison Square Garden late that year. She caused some ruckus at that show too. Fiona was a badass—and I loved every minute of it. It was more than a 3 year wait for release #2, commonly called “When the Pawn…”. The full album title is actually 90 words long. God, I love this woman. Oh, and the music is even more impressive than the first time around. Fast forward six full years for her 3rd official CD, 2005’s “Extraordinary Machine”. Battles with her studio over her vision for this project created lengthy delays. In fact, multi-year delays and eventually a full re-recording. Not only was it her biggest critical smash to date, but there is a bootleg version of the original recording that some find even more impressive than the studio release. Could this goddess do no wrong? Until June 19th of this year, it was almost seven years since Fiona’s last completed work. She is now 34 years old and as enchanting as ever, but could she top herself again? The consensus seems to be a resounding YES! While not quite as maverick title-wise as her 1999 opus, 2012’s “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do” is 23 words long, nonetheless. Shortened to “The Idler Wheel…” by most, it is being hailed as her masterpiece. And I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. It’s highly addictive, and I’m roughly 10 listens in in less than a fortnight. Not since Prince’s “Purple Rain” from 1984(when I was 18)have I been such a junkie. Now, I’m not going to fall into the trap of doing music reviews on this blog. It is not my true area of expertise, although I like to consider myself as possessing an expansive palette(among the obvious categories, show tunes is certainly up there—and is there even a casual acquaintance of mine who doesn’t associate me with Minneapolis’s most famous performer?). So, how to overcome this obstacle? By connecting it to the film world, silly! Now, the most recent example would be Ms. Apple’s “Paper Bag” being featured in the film “Bridesmaids”(it’s on the soundtrack, too). But, that’s not the one I’m most enamored with. That distinction would fall to her hypnotic cover of The Beatles “Across the Universe”, as featured in 1998’s “Pleasantville”(and a pretty, darn good movie, at that). So, I hope it’s not too tenuous of a connection, and you can view the actual video above. Enjoy. Oh, and buy “The Idler Wheel…”—it’s incredible.
Apple of my Ear