“I told [director] Joey [Cahill] just to come up with a bunch of things and just do things to me and put me in situations and surprise me. One thing I wanted to have happen was to be covered in snails. I laid in a bed of soil and they put snails all over me. And then they brought in shit that I would not have asked for. He put a dead squid on my head.
I used to love to put snails on my arm– I have a bunch of pictures. I used to put half a watermelon out in my yard overnight and then go out there in the middle of the night and take pictures of them, like macro pictures of the snails sipping the watermelon. I would love to sit there and put them on my arm. I don’t know, it just helped me think. I really like snails a lot.” – Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple is one of my favorite musicians of all time, and thus it goes without saying that I’m pee-my-pants-excited for the release of her new album tomorrow. When I was a senior in high school and Ms. Apple had just released Extraordinary Machine, I saw her perform in Portland, which was the maiden performance of her U.S. tour and, Ms. Apple made sure to point out, her first performance in five years. It was an incredible and fascinating performance, but not because she’s a gifted performer; quite the opposite, in fact. She seemed wholly uncomfortable being on stage, kept her eyes closed and remained largely still while she sang, and spoke maybe twenty words to the crowd. And yet, there was so much raw power and emotion in her songs and the way she sang them that I (and my three girlfriends I was with) were moved to tears.
I read a recent profile of Ms. Apple in the New York Times, and while I’ve always suspected that she was a bit imbalanced, this profile portrays her as incredibly eccentric. And not, like, cool eccentric… CRAZY eccentric. She talks about how she’s alone all the time and even walks her dog at dawn so as to avoid interaction with other people, and how she climbed a hill near her house for eight hours a day, every day, until she literally could not walk anymore and needed months of rehabilitation on her knees, because she saw the constant climbing as a way to work out all the anger that had built up inside of her. I don’t want to join in on the chorus of crazy-callers, but there’s no denying that most people wouldn’t classify that type of thing as normal. It brings to mind that image of the tortured artist, the type whose music I’ve always been fascinated by because it seems to be less a voluntary creation of art and more an involuntary outpouring of something beyond themselves, an inner movement that will burst if not allowed a release. And that’s why I love this video: there’s a sense of stream-of-consciousness that’s unchecked, a lack of control over which thoughts and images bubble to the surface. It’s glimpses into a singular and unusual mind where the imagined takes a physical form and creates a reality where few things make sense but it all feels strangely resonant. And that whisper of a line, “I just want to feel everything”… so powerful.