Joe Stile | BASSic
On the verge of a breakdown
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 07:10
Getting arrested a few weeks ago has thrown Fiona Apple back into the limelight, a place she seems to occupy uneasily. Apple’s music is tremendously candid, and her songs are a direct look into her messy and chaotic sense of being. Her current single, “Every Single Night,” exemplifies how Apple is able to put all of her feelings and her mental outlook onto every record she makes.
“Every Single Night” might as well be classified as an emotional poem. Elementary, minimal notes back the song; its instrumentation is mostly just a few simple piano chords that sound like a child’s broken music box. After all, the song is made to be a showcase of Apple’s best features: her cutting vocals and her ingenious lyrics.
Being emotionally honest is one of the hardest things to do in life — people are sarcastic, defensive, detached, mean and hundreds of other things just to avoid being truly open. Openness leads to vulnerability. This is why Apple’s music is so radical; her songs leave her completely unfastened. “Every Single Night” is her life in that moment, failings and all.
While giving an interview early in her career, Apple said, “I decided if I was going to be exploited, I would do the exploiting myself.” She then created a niche for herself where her life and art are simultaneously part of and a critique of celebrity culture. In a world where Lady Gaga gaining a few pounds is front−page news and where people eagerly watch as Lindsay Lohan self−destructs, Apple gives unfiltered access to her battles with all her demons. She gives her audience a glimpse inside her hind, and her lyrics are painfully honest, whether they discuss Apple’s losing fights against mental illness, her struggles with body image or her cancerous love affairs.
On “Every Single Night,” Apple’s voice is jittery. She whispers, yells, quivers, screams and seems as though she could go berserk at any moment. Even without lyrics, her vocals show just how unhinged she is. She can’t keep on one note for too long, and she switches between high−pitched murmuring and primal shouting from second to second.
This all fits into how she “wants to feel everything,” a lyric she repeats numerous times throughout the track. The fact that Apple sings the line at the highest part of her vocal range also emphasizes how she wants the extremes in her life. The delivery makes the line sound like it’s a whimpered plea, as if she is begging us to just let her have her pain despite how it cripples her life. Fiona Apple is refusing to be numb.
It’s why even though every night is a serious struggle for her psyche and her well−being, she says that “every fight’s alright with my brain.” She struggles, but the pain allows her to experience the moment and be who she is. As she later puts it, “What I am is what I am/ ‘cause I does what I does.” Apple does and feels the things she does because it is a part of who she is. To deny those events and emotions would be to reject her true self.
Fiona Apple took a seven−year break between releasing this song and the album that came before it, and in that time she has honed the ability to distill her essence and her experiences into a few choice lyrics. While listening to “Every Single Night,” you may not feel like you know Fiona Apple, but you’ll know what it feels like to be her. It’s an experience that’s as fascinating as it is troubling.
Joe Stile is a political science major and English minor. He is a senior and can be reached at Joseph.Stile@tufts.edu.