Fiona Apple has been in music news a lot over the last 18 months since the release of her 2012 album The Idler Wheel… . I hadn’t been interested in Ms. Apple since the ‘90s so most of these stories I just skimmed and moved on. That was the case until this summer when I saw this odd video of Fiona performing a song in preparation for her Fall ’13 Tour.
What a strange video. She’s singing “I Know” from her late ‘90s album When the Pawn… Sitting in a living room and holding the hand of some older woman. Is she her Mother? Grandmother? Random elderly fan-girl? Who’s to say? I was mesmerized. At one point the woman gets up and answers the door. Presumably Fiona ordered a vegan pizza or something. After the first viewing, I had the distinct impression that Fiona was completely wacked out crazy.
I watched the video a few more times over the next week and realized I was no longer absorbed in the weirdness of the situation but was wrapped up in the song. She sounds amazing. I decided to revisit Fiona’s albums. Most notably the aforementioned Idler Wheel and When the Pawn. Since that time I haven’t stopped listening to them. So that got me thinking, maybe she’s not “completely wacked out crazy” but instead a “wonderfully crazy genius.”
Unfortunately, the weirdness in Fiona’s life continued. More stories of breakdowns, dead dogs, arrests and tour cancellations came out. That’s when I started wondering. Which is it? Is Fiona Apple “Wacked Out Crazy” or is she a “Wonderfully Crazy Genius?
Let’s deliberate! The Honorable MoSS? Todd presiding.
MoSS? Todd: Now hearing arguments from the prosecution or the “Wacked Out Crazy” side.
WOC: Your honor, we plan to prove Ms. Apple is Wacked Out Crazy by showing a long history of crazy activities going back to the mid ‘90s when she first came into the public eye.
Crazy Exhibit A:
In 1997, Ms. Apple received an MTV Video Music Award. Instead of graciously accepting the award she decided to use her time to quote Maya Angelou and rant about the bullshit life of celebrity.
A normal, not wacked out crazy person, would have gotten onstage, accepted the award, thanked God, and then, being disoriented from the shock of the win, walked the wrong direction towards backstage until the beautiful spokes model that holds the awards pointed her to the correct exit.
MoSS? Todd: Defense, or “Wonderfully Crazy Genius” side, do you want to cross examine?
WCG: Yes your honor. While we acknowledge that getting on stage and quoting Maya Angelou is both annoying and pretentious, Ms. Apple’s speech was in no way crazy. She said the word bullshit live on cable TV. This was way back in the ‘90s before it was a dialogue staple on cable channels like FX, TNT, and Disney Jr. In our book that was kind of badass. She’s a rock star doing rock star stuff. If anything this makes her more sane than crazy.
WOC: Your honor, next I’d like to present to you a letter Ms. Apple wrote to her fans apologizing to them for cancelling her concert dates. I think this clearly shows her wacked out behavior. What was her reason for cancelling? Her dog was sick.
Crazy Exhibit B:
MoSS? Todd: Who wants to read all that? Give me the highlights.
“I have a dog Janet, and she’s been ill for almost two years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly… She’s my best friend and my mother and my daughter, and my benefactor, and she’s the one who taught me what love is… I can’t come to South America. Not now. When I got back from the last leg of the US tour, there was a big,big difference. She doesn’t even want to go for walks anymore… So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, and reveling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel.
And I am asking for your blessing.
I’ll be seeing you.
The concert was booked, people bought tickets and she cancelled over a dog. Come on. Adults have responsibilities and obligations to meet. I could understand cancelling from a family member’s illness but not from the family dog. That is just crazy.
MoSS? Todd: Defense, to you have anything to say about this?
WCG: Your Honor, do you have a dog?
MoSS? Todd?: Yes.
WCG: What’s his name?
MoSS? Todd: Rigatoni.
WCG: Cute name. I bet you love him very much. Is Rigatoni aging rapidly?
MoSS? Todd: Yes, he’s over 14 years old. I’m warning you counselor. Tread lightly.
WCG: Are you looking forward to euthanizing Rigatoni during his final days of pain, misery and helplessness?
MoSS? Todd: That’s enough! I won’t have you continue this line of questioning. (Blubbering uncontrollably) 1 minute recess. Watch this shot-for-shot remake of the Simon and Simon opening credits starring John Hamm until I get back.
MoSS? Todd: OK. I’ve composed myself. “Wacked Out Crazy”, What Else You Got?
WOC: Welcome back Your Honor. Next I’d like to present this home video of Ms. Apple acting erratically.
Crazy Exhibit C:
You can clearly see Ms. Apple doing strange things in this video like filming herself in a freaky face mask, cutting her own hair and speaking in such a way as to question her sanity.
MoSS? Todd: Defense, anything to add?
WGC: Ummm…No your honor. That is a pretty crazy video. Wowzer!
MoSS? Todd: I’ll now hear arguments for the defense.
WCG: Your Honor, we plan to demonstrate that while some of Ms. Apple’s behavior could appear to some as crazy, this behavior really just complements her musical genius.
Genius Exhibit A:
This is the video for Fiona’s song “Hot Knife.” The song is amazing. Layer upon layer of repeated vocals slow build into an explosion of songwriting genius.
Now after viewing this video, can you blame her for acting a little crazy if that was going on in her head all day? I can’t imagine the struggle it would have been to get this song out of her head and to translate it to a recording.
MoSS? Todd: Prosecution, cross examine?
WOC: No way. That was awesome!
WCG: I know right?!! Next, I’d like to show a video featuring crappy emo band, Panic at the Disco. They attempted to sample one of Fiona’s songs on their latest album and she told them to cease and desist.
Genius Exhibit B:
Would a crazy person do that? I make the argument that it would actually be crazy for her to WANT to be involved in any way with a Panic at the Disco song.
MoSS? Todd: Prosecution?
WOC: You got me there too. Panic at the Disco sucks!
MoSS? Todd: I think I’m prepared to make my decision. Clearly, there is a crazy magical world going on in Fiona Apple’s mind. Sometimes she demonstrates odd behavior because of it. It reminds me of another crazy genius, Willy Wonka. (Gene Wilder not Johnny Depp) And like in the case of Willy Wonka, I believe we should accept the craziness and embrace the wonderful treats we get in return.