Song of the Day #4,923: ‘The Child is Gone’ – Fiona Apple

Today’s Random Weekend selection is a late track on Fiona Apple’s 1996 debut album TIdal.

Ironically, Tidal is both the biggest success and the most forgotten record in Apple’s 25-year career. She has released only five albums during that span, and it was the second, 1999’s When the Pawn…, that made her a critical darling and indie icon. The three releases since have met with lavish critical praise as her music has become less commercially accessible.

Tidal was far more radio friendly, serving up hits with ‘Shadowboxer’ and ‘Criminal.’ The piano-heavy balladry positioned Apple as a more accessible Tori Amos, and the album was well-timed to meet the Lilith Fair moment.

But that moment faded as Apple’s music got more interesting, and Tidal was brushed aside like an embarrassing high school photo.

That’s unfair, because Tidal remains a rich piece of work. Written and recorded before she turned 18, the collection does feel a bit precocious at times, but it also demonstrates the thoughtfulness, wisdom, and world-weariness of a young woman forced to grow up too quickly.

Apple was raped outside her family’s apartment at age 12, as early trauma that lurks behind many of the songs on this album. Today’s track, ‘The Child is Gone,’ could be about that incident, though others have speculated it is about an abortion or miscarriage, or the loss of virginity.

[Verse 1]
Darling, give me your absence tonight
Take the shade from the canvas and leave me the white
Let me sink in the silence that echoes inside
And don’t bother leaving the light on

[Pre-Chorus]
‘Cause I suddenly feel like a different person
From the roots of my soul come a gentle coercion
And I ran my hand o’er a strange inversion
A vacancy that just did not belong

[Chorus]
The child is gone

[Bridge]
Honey, help me out of this mess
I’m a stranger to myself
But don’t reach for me, I’m too far away
I don’t wanna talk ’cause there’s nothing left to say

[Verse 2]
So my darling, give me your absence tonight
Take all of your sympathy and leave it outside
‘Cause there’s no kind of loving that can make this all right
I’m trying to find a place I belong

[Pre-Chorus]
And I suddenly feel like a different person
From the roots of my soul come a gentle coercion
And I ran my hand o’er a strange inversion
As the darkness turns into the dawn

[Chorus]
The child is gone
The child is gone

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,923: ‘The Child is Gone’ – Fiona Apple

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I like a more accessible Fiona Apple, so this album remains one of my favorites of hers.

Leave a Reply to Dana Gallup Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.