“…having a guy dressed as Beethoven in the balcony can’t exactly change the fact that the real guy died in 1827, but it does call attention to the fact that 4 people with instruments and some sheet music can bring a part of the German composer’s magnificently wired brain back to life, if only for the length of time it takes to play one of his works…”
Though I was talking about how Brooklyn Rider makes classical music accessible, the part about music providing an external, accessible image of a person’s consciousness is fascinating to me. And while every lyricist engages in this process by putting their thoughts to words, hearing Fiona Apple’s new song “Every Single Night” helped me realize that she’s in a class of her own in this respect.
The lyrics to “Every Single Night” convey a level of introspection so incisive, she may as well be taking out her brain and plopping it down on our keyboards. The opening verse zooms at the speed of electricity from id to ego to superego, mapping out how an impulse grows into an idea and is then subjected to painful self-doubt, with a rhyme scheme that can best be described this way. And while the second half of the song seems to decry this gift for self-analysis — “I just want to feel everything” — I haven’t been able to get the first verse’s mental gymnastics out of my head.
The crazy thing is that introspection is a lonely and exclusionary venture, yet Apple’s songs are as open and vulnerable — “I play so far from my vest” — as songs get. In fact, Apple’s song “Window,” from Extraordinary Machine, deals with this exact problem, communicating the narrator’s desire to break through the barrier that her thoughts lay in front of the world and the other people living in it. Her ability to penetrate this wall is one of the reasons her music is so amazing and… well… transcendent. After all, nothing invites a connection more than someone bearing their soul to you, warts and all.
That said, you won’t find any warts on “Every Single Night,” musically speaking. It’s an absolutely beautiful song. Delicate, breathy vocals mingle with chest-thumping, tribal-sounding ones, and hand (tabla?) drumming serves the sparse instrumentation particularly well, rearing its head periodically and unobtrusively, perhaps a subtle nod to the transcendental meditation that has inspired other artists to dive deep into their consciousnesses.
Start your own transcendental journey by listening to “Every Single Night” below, and start getting excited for the June 19 release of Apple’s next album, The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do.