When I don't like a musician or a writer that everyone tells me I might like, I keep my mouth shut and/ or keep myself in the security of indifference, more or less polite, although, I admit, I may be forced into speaking nonsense. Or I may take the initiative myself. Inside, when I think about it, I defend myself with silly arguments. But I never give up, I wait: one day, different from all other days, an urgent need to get to know what I don't know, the background that will allow me to understand something I am missing, life, patience.
Discovering music, for me, is an intimate and lonely process. There are very few people with whom I can share the silent focus that is required from me to listen and get to truly know a song, to fall in love with a few sounds first, then for a whole minute and, at last, for the entire song, and then for another song, until I conquer the entire album. Even when I instantly like an album, there will come the day when I need to get sick of it and rediscover it outside of the world, inside of myself. Once it's explored and inside my blood stream, flowing through the channels that connect emotions, memory and dreams, I can listen to my music, in the company of a crowd, without loosing my head, taking pleasure in every sound. Never before that. The records I love were, each and everyone of them, listened to intensely, isolatedly, selfishly, sickly and obcessively.
There is also another circumstance where I can go inside a record with the ideal amount of focus: while I am doing something else that is not listening to music. Tidying up the house, for instance. In which case, there may be ten people around me that I won't even notice them. I owe the unexpected expedition the Fiona Apple's territory to a tidying up of the library that kept me busy during the beginning of the year. For too long, I didn't file my new purchases under an alphabetical order and I was beginning to have difficulties in finding everything. I had to take every book out of the shelves and put them away, along with the new ones, in order. I would arrive home every afternoon, turn on the music player, create a play list, select repeat and turn the volume high enough so that I could listen to it in the room where I keep my books, where I would stay until sleep time, except for dinner. One of those days I picked up Fiona Apple's albums. Stubbornness.
I like scraps and resonant junk. I like songs with a bunch of instruments. Circus sounds, even though I never cared for the circus itself. Sounds of marketplaces. Sounds of dolls and things breaking. Sounds of traffic, footsteps, the street. Orchestras tuning their instruments at the beginning of a concert. Double bass. Sounds without fear. With the exception, of course, of those moved moments of adolescence and, always, of the albums of a few songwriters, the music itself is what interests me in records: melody, musical instruments - among them, the vocals -, rythm, rythm and more rythm. If the music doesn't make me happy - even if it tears me apart -, I won't trouble myself to pay attention to the lyrics.
It was an instrumental segment from a song in "Extraordinary Machine" that first made me stop what I was doing to approach the CD player and memorize the track and the title. I heard it and thought, blasphemy, blasphemy?, it reminded me of something by Tom Waits, the god. The seconds from 2:00 to 2:19 from "Used to love him" - what was that, wood creaking? It was! The kind of sound a boat sinking makes. I worked like a fuse and, very quickly, I saw myself liking many other segments and many other songs. All these months later, the entire discography already explored, both versions of "Extraordinary Machine" listened to exhaustion - and I'm glad I don't have to chose, that there was room for indecision -, and I'm still excited about it. I know I have found one of the fundamental discographies for my exhistence.
Sometimes I get tired, sick of it, I try to listen to it, but can't: I rest for a week or two and listen to it back to back, repeating the songs I want to, when I want to. Furthermore, I have paid attention to all the lyrics and, when I didn't understand a line, I looked it up. It's true that most of them are about relationships and illusions and, many of them, about how you feel when it's over. But they're not corny in the least. Albeit with some ironic self-pity. But on the whole, they are quite clever. Well written. Deliciously furious and spiteful. Redeeming. Rogue, for a girl to feel avenged and with the bonus possibility of being hurtful. Mostly, they are the lyrics of a beautiful song, generous when it comes to sounds, voice, instruments and rythm, where nothing goes from the outside to the inside, but everything flows as it should - reason why you never really know when to expect a new Fiona Apple album, or even if there will ever be one. The good news is, the ones that exist are inexhaustable. And take long to distil.
Fiona Apple - Used to love him/Extraordinary Machine