Song of the Day #1,804: ‘Left Alone’ – Fiona Apple

the_idler_wheelMy admiration for Fiona Apple is well documented on this blog. By now, I believe I’ve posted more than half of her songs, including the entirety of her second album (When the Pawn…).

When I want to offer up something provocative and challenging, she’s my go-to gal.

Take today’s left-field mind-bender. ‘Left Alone’ starts off with a peppy little drum solo before launching into an unsettling, discordant piano part that underscores the rest of the song.

The stacatto verses give way to a jazzy chorus in which Apple engages in vocal acrobatics so strenuous she’s lucky she didn’t pull a muscle. Then a breath, and we’re back up and running again.

This song, and the whole Idler Wheel… album, are tough to love on first listen. I think my initial reaction to most of the record was “What the hell is this?” But four or five listens in, I discovered what it was… the best album of last year.

You made your major overtures
When you were a sure and orotund mutt
And I was still a dewy petal
rather than a moribund slut
My love wrecked you, you packed to
twirl your skirt at the palace
it hurt more than it ought to hurt, I went to work
to cultivate a callous

And now I’m hard, too hard to know
I don’t cry when I’m sad anymore, no, no.
Tears calcify in my tummy
Fears coincide with the tow
How can I ask anyone to love me
When all I do is beg to be left alone

Oh, and I tried to love
And I can love the same man, in the same bed,
in the same city
But not in the same room, it’s a pity
But oh, it never bothered me before
Not until this guy, what a guy, oh god,
What a good guy and I
can’t even enjoy him ’cause I’m

Hard too hard to know
I don’t cry when I’m sad anymore
Tears calcify in my tummy
Fears coincide with the tow
How can I ask anyone to love me
When all I do is beg to be left alone

My ills are reticulate
My woes are granular
The ants weight more than the elephants
Nothing, nothing is manageable
So, couldn’t we skip the valedictories,
I can see a door there:
shut it and forget my number

’cause I’m hard, too hard to know
I don’t cry I’m sad anymore
Tears calcify in my tummy
Fears coincide with the tow
How can I ask anyone to love me
when all I do is beg to be left alone.

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,804: ‘Left Alone’ – Fiona Apple

  1. Andrea Katz says:

    I got the message that my video player was too small so all i could do was read the lyrics. This stands well alone though as poetry. Brilliant and so honest, emotionally. Plus who couldn’t love a rhyme of orotund and moribund?

  2. Dana says:

    Love this song. The chorus is so Joni Mitchell vocally, it is difficult to understand how you can love this song so much and yet you can’t get past Mitchell’s voice to appreciate the brilliance of her songwriting.

  3. Clay says:

    I definitely appreciate Mitchell’s songwriting talents. I’d love an album of her songs sung by other people.

  4. Dana says:

    Yes, you have said that before. My point though is that Apple at times, and particularly here, sings in a way much like Mitchell, yet you not only don’t find it off putting, you seem to love it. Do you like the way the chorus is sung here? Would you prefer to hear a cover of this song by someone else?

  5. Clay says:

    I love the way Apple sings this chorus. It might be a Mitchell style but it sure ain’t a Mitchell sound.

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