Sunday, August 6, 2006

Fiona Apple at the Ryman

fiona apple
Originally uploaded by an0nym0usmuse.
This is the best shot that I could get, with my crappy cameraphone. The guards enforced a strict no-camera policy (the guy in front of me was told to put his away). As Americans, we all conform, sooner or later, save for some lunatic who went to the front of the auditorium and tried to dance to "Paper Bag." For his performance, he was escorted out, and rightly so. No one likes a fool, except another fool. The whole time, the guards walked right past the microphone sitting in my lap; I recorded the show.... for me.

Note to RIAA: I won't sell, post, or give away this recording, or any recording I make.... Except for Fiona, of course. She can have anything she wants.

Sometimes I think I'm the only person on the planet who understands Fiona Apple. Like her, I am a Virgoan obsessive-compulsive who does not like public performance. I have the sense that Fiona creates out of her own catharsis, and then she tosses it away to the public. Once it's been fingered and traded about, it's stained, somehow, and you don't want to fool with it anymore. And when someone trods upon or disregards your creation, it's doubly bad. (A quaint notion, I guess, in our ├╝ber-commercialized world.) It's why I don't like to write or post, unless I have to. Fiona says that she may never compose another album again, and I am at peace with that. I'm often tempted to delete everything I've ever posted and disappear completely; but I don't--at least, not today. My life is lived a day at a time.

For about half of the performance, I thought that Fiona would collapse under the accumulation of her own rage. I feared a meltdown. Her song cycle seemed to recount a series of brutal, exploitative relationships of a serial nature. I understand perfectly. For such a young thing, she has lived one hundred years of experience. Particularly chilling was her story of a psychopathic boyfriend who lavashed her with public "I love yous." "He's such a wonderful guy," her friends said... "He loves you." But when he got her away from others, however, he bit her in the face and hissed, "I'm going to fucking kill you." I had a girlfriend almost that bad, once. Why did I put up with her for almost a year? I have no clue. And the scary thing is--I would do it again. I still fall for the same type again (albeit with less frequency and shorter duration).

There are no guarantees with Fiona, or with "us." She gives you what she gives you--take it, appreciate it. Maybe you will get more later, maybe not. As Flavor Flav once said, "That's the way the ball bounces, G."

Halfway through the performance, though, at the end of one song, Fiona smiled--briefly. I knew, then, that she was going to be okay. And later, she reclined completely back on her bench (a maneuver I would never be able to pull off without slapstick), sat up, and quietly clucked her tongue. I could feel her thinking, "Almost through, and I'm gonna make it."

As we all do, inevitably, one day, one night, one busted dream at a time.