Life, Hit me with Whatever: an Interview on Songwriting with Fiona Apple

About her songs:

“They’re all kind of pep talks.

“Life, hit me with whatever… it’ll go through me, and it’ll come out as something nice.”

-Fiona Apple

Here’s something rare: an intelligent interview about songwriting between two sharp wits. On television.

This I think is the gem of the interview, and something I haven’t heard any other songwriter talk about:

FIONA: “The worst feeling in the world for some reason is—and this has been happening since I was, like, eight years old—I would write little songs and I would be so excited and I would get my mom to come in and listen to them. But as soon as I was done playing the song, I would get so depressed. And I still don’t understand it. It’s just a letdown. I guess I expect somebody to hear it and then the world just becomes bigger and brighter all of a sudden because I’ve played this song out loud for the first time.”

CRAIG: “No, you’re confusing that with drugs.”

Fiona’s not alone there. When you’ve fought hard and earned something intensely meaningful to you—like a new song that excites you—it can actually be somewhat lonely after the initial rush.

In my brain there lives a needy, nagging little creature that wants everybody to be just floored by my work. To scratch me behind the ears. To lift me up onto a horse and slap its rump and send me with all haste to a magical shining castle called “Everybody Loves Tozier,” where somehow my life will all make sense. And then—and then!

I will be happy.

Well, usually the sky doesn’t open up when you play someone else your song or show them your painting. You may get a polite pat on the back. They may merely seem to tolerate it.

It’s not always easy—but try to celebrate your victories internally, even without the company of others. Ignore your self-doubt. The song’s still written, and you still rock. But not even success like Fiona Apple’s can take away that nagging critical voice within. FAVICON

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