Recently, I was doing quite a bit of driving for work and I needed to find something to listen to.
I did a search through the nearly 1,100 episodes of comedian Marc Maron’s podcast “WTF” and came across some great ones: Jakob Dylan, Sean Lennon, and Ronan Farrow all doing these wonderful long-form interviews and getting quite a bit more in-depth than you’ll find elsewhere.
I found one, however, that I couldn’t stop thinking about for days: Fiona Apple.
My knowledge of Apple has been cursory at best, but I felt compelled to listen to all of her albums after listening to this interview. Then I listened to the interview again.
There is no anniversary or birthday that compelled me to celebrate this artist, but there will always be something timely about Fiona Apple. Having sustained a violent sexual assault as a young person, she fought back against all of the depression and pain that the attack left her with and used it as her fuel—fuel that propelled her into superstardom.
She explains in the interview that this success, by no means, gave her a “happily ever after” ending, but she continues to draw upon this friction in her life to inspire some of the most heartfelt, sometimes angry, sometimes tender emotions to create, what I consider to be, the most beautiful music I have ever heard.
She’s a complicated person. This is probably why I felt such a visceral connection to her after listening to the interview with Maron. She feels all of her emotions—everything from suicidal to utter absurdity—in the most profound way.
A sampling of what goes on in her fertile mind can be found in the following quotes:
1. “As a person who performs on stage, it’s good to be emotionally open. If you mess with someone when they are in that state, it’s like you’re messing with an animal when it’s eating.”
2. “I don’t want to give any advice to a 19-year-old, because I want a 19-year-old to make mistakes and learn from them. Make mistakes, make mistakes, make mistakes. Just make sure they’re your mistakes.”
3. “My problem was that I felt ashamed of feeling sad or angry. Now, I don’t hide my vulnerability in my lyrics. There’s no way I was going to get raped and not get something out of it. I learned about power and hope and forgiveness. I like who I am now, and I wouldn’t be who I am if that hadn’t happened.”
4. “I definitely had an eating disorder. What was really frustrating for me was that everyone thought I was anorexic, and I wasn’t. I was really depressed and self-loathing. For me, it wasn’t about being thin, it was about getting rid of the bait attached to my body.”
5. “I only write when I’m angry or sad, because that’s when I just have to write…If I’m having a good time and I’m happy and things are going really well, why would I want to stop what I’m doing to go and write at the piano?”
6. “Everybody acts like I’m nuts. I’m not nuts I just want to feel it all.”
7. “It’s calm under the waves in the blue of my oblivion.”
8. “How can you go wrong with two people in love? If a good boy loves a good girl, good. If a good boy loves another good boy, good. And if a good girl loves the goodness in good boys and good girls, then all you have is more goodness, and goodness has nothing to do with sexual orientation.”
9. “Everybody sees me as this sullen and insecure little thing. Those are just the sides of me that I feel it’s necessary to show because no one else seems to be showing them.”
10. “Be kind to me, or treat me mean
I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine”