[Paleopsych] NYT: (Fiona Apple) Re-emerging After a Strange Silence
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Fri Sep 30 20:55:15 UTC 2005
Re-emerging After a Strange Silence
[Now I don't like this kind of music the least little bit, but I was struck by
her mournful countenance in a photograph when she first hit the scene. Born
between my two daughters, she has a quintessential Generation X personality.
William Strauss and Neil Howe, in _Generations: The History of America's
Future, 1584 to 2069 (NY: William Morrow, 1991) and one of the ten books that
has most influenced my thinking, say this:
"A recessive REACTIVE GENERATION grows up as underprotected and criticized
youths during a spiritual awakening; matures into risk-taking, alienated rising
adults; mellows into pragmatic midlife leaders during a secular crisis; and
maintains respect (but less influence) as reclusive elders" (p. 74).
[This generation is made up of those born between 1961 and 1981, while the
boomers, an idealist generation, were born between 1943 and 1960. The last
reactive generation was the Lost Generation, those born between 1883 and 1900.
Previous reactive generations were the
Cavalier (born 1615-47). Think Jacob Leisler, Elisha Cooke, Increase Mather,
Samuel Willard, Benjamin Church, Nathaniel Bacon, Metacomet, William Kidd)
Liberty (born 1724-41) Think Washington, Adams, Henry, Paine, Allen, Arnold,
Revere, Boone. No need to give first names here!
Gilded (born 1822-42). Think Grant, Cleveland, Twain, Dickinson. Carnegie,
Rockefeller, Wild Bill Hickock, Sitting Bull)
Lost (born 1883-1900). Think Truman, Eisenhower, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Patton,
Capone, Bogart, Mae West.
Reactive (as the authors then called it. They didn't like the term Generation
X, since it was not really a generation, but the term stuck. Born 1961-81).
Think (this was written in 1991, remember) Any Carter, Samantha Smith, Michael
lewis, Brett Easton Ellis, Mary Lou Retton, Tom Cruise, Michael J. Fox, Mike
Tyson. (All this from the foldout page of the book)
[The upcoming generation, those born in 1982 and after, will be a "civic"
generation. The last one was the G.I. (government issue, which now calls itself
the "Greatest Generation"), those born 1901-24. Before that, we must go back to
Mr. Jefferson's Republican generation (1742-66). The Strauss-Howe cycle breaks
down, since the Civil War was so disruptive that no civic generation emerged.
All U.S. Presidents between Kennedy and Bush I were G.I. There was never a
President from the following Adaptive generation (Silent, born 1925-42), though
Dukakis and Mondale iirc were of the right age. Clinton and Bush II are both
from the Idealist generation (Boomers, 1943-60).
[What makes these cycles more than just a coincidence is the authors' idea that
America is unique in changing rapidly and having enough parental choice in
upbringing so as to affect how parents raise their children as they react to
their own upbringing. I'd have to restudy the book, but I recall that the
authors did seem some generational change in Europe, though not nearly as great
as in the United States. They didn't see these cycles anywhere else.
[What would be exciting would be to know whether the rest of the world is now
so affected by America that it, too, is going through the same (or maybe just
similar) generational cycles of the same (or similar) duration. Or maybe there
is now enough change and parental choice outside the Occident for there to be
generational cycles but of different kinds and different lengths depending on
the country or region.
[Convergence here to the American model would be a change of the deepest sort.
[Now to Fiona.]
By LOLA OGUNNAIKE
Fiona Apple, the soul-baring singer who hasn't released an album since
1999, wishes she had a more compelling explanation for her absence.
"The truth is that I haven't been doing anything that interesting,"
she said, shrugging one afternoon late last week. "I got off the road
last time and I just felt like not writing and not doing anything for
a long time."
Ms. Apple will finally be back next week with the release of
"Extraordinary Machine," the third album in her decade-long career.
And judging from the 500 fans who flocked to the Virgin Megastore in
Union Square in Manhattan on Tuesday to hear her sing, her return is
none too soon.
Ms. Apple attained cause-célèbre status earlier this year when fans
pressured her record company, Sony, to release the album, an early,
unfinished version of which had been leaked on the Internet.
She called her decision to step back into the limelight a "really big
experiment," given her past public struggles with popular success.
Will the touring, television appearances and photo shoots cause her to
"freak out again," she wondered? Or will she manage to find some
pleasure in it all?
While promoting her first album her attitude was, "Please like me,
please understand me," Ms. Apple, 28, said chuckling. "The second time
was: 'Please don't misunderstand me again. Please understand me this
time.' And this time it's really about me taking something that's been
so stressful in the past and making it joyful. I don't want to be
suffering all the time."
Suffering - Ms. Apple has made a cottage industry of it. She even
addresses her penchant for pain on the title track of "Extraordinary
Machine": "I seem to you to seek a new disaster everyday."
But she writes: "I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way, and
say,/I've been getting along for long before you came into play."
In 1996 she made her debut with "Tidal," which sold three million
copies and won a Grammy. Her second effort, "When the Pawn. ..." - the
unabridged title is 90 words long - was hailed by critics but proved a
It did not help that Ms. Apple had a reputation for being difficult, a
tortured soul with attitude to spare. In one of her more infamous
tantrums, she berated audience members at the 1997 MTV Video Music
Awards ceremony for worshiping celebrities. A Manhattan concert in
2000 was cut short when the singer, upset over sound difficulties,
began sobbing uncontrollably onstage. Ms. Apple, who admits to being
emotional ("it runs in my family"), said she was cast as a troubled
loose cannon by the media because controversy makes great headlines.
"I was the right girl for the part," she conceded. "I cried a lot. I
said a lot of stuff. There were lots of great rumors about me.
Everything I did was put in bold print and italics."
It is difficult to believe that this tiny sliver of a woman once
caused such a big commotion. Dressed in a floor-length peasant skirt,
T-shirt and faded navy-blue hoodie, a genial Ms. Apple spoke in
sprawling, uninterrupted sentences as she sat in a restaurant at her
Midtown hotel. Thoughtful and introspective, she was all too willing
to have her haunting blue-silver eyes look inward.
During her sabbatical, she said, she would often sit in her backyard
in Venice, Calif., thinking and playing with pine cones. "I was making
little pine-cone people with razor blades," Ms. Apple said, raking her
fingers through her wavy brown hair. "That's all I did."
Her inertia did not sit well with some in her immediate circle. They
accused Ms. Apple of being lazy, crazy and unproductive, she said. "It
really hurt a couple of close relationships of mine," said Ms. Apple,
who split with her boyfriend Paul Thomas Anderson, the film director,
three years ago. "It infuriated me because they couldn't believe that
when I'm sitting and thinking that's how I work."
Several years ago she decided that she was ready to begin recording
again and called on Jon Brion, who produced "When the Pawn. ..." Their
collaboration, while smooth before, was shaky this time. "Jon would
play me stuff and I wouldn't be able to tell what I liked and what I
didn't like," Ms. Apple said. After emerging from a deep funk, she
eventually decided to rerecord her songs with the producer Mike
Elizondo, who has worked with Dr. Dre.
According to Ms. Apple, things were going well until executives at
Sony began asking her to submit individual songs for their approval.
Only then would they determine how much more recording money she would
receive. Sony had already sunk nearly $800,000 into recording the
original version of "Extraordinary Machine."
"They basically wanted me to audition my songs," Ms. Apple said,
Lois Najarian, a representative for Sony, denies this and blamed Ms.
Apple's perception of events on miscommunication. "That was surely not
the case," Ms. Najarian said.
Unhappy with what she termed an "unlivable" arrangement, Ms. Apple
threatened to abandon the project.
When the Brion-produced version of "Extraordinary Machine" showed up
on the Internet earlier this year, Ms. Apple, upset that her
unfinished work was available, thought Sony would scrap the album.
"Who is going to give me money to make songs that are already out
there?" she recalled thinking at the time.
Little did Ms. Apple know that a group of fans was pleading with Sony
to release her album, which they thought had been shelved. Both Sony
and Ms. Apple say it was not. On the Web site www.freefiona.com
they railed against the "corporate giant" standing between them and
"Please give us Fiona and we'll give you money back," read one poem
posted on the site. Hundreds of foam apples were sent to the company,
and in January a dedicated band of protesters, led by the Free Fiona
founder Dave Muscato, stood outside the Madison Avenue offices of Sony
BMG chanting, "We want Fiona."
She is quick to credit her freefiona fans with her comeback. "It's
good to know that if you organize you can make change, because that's
certainly not what I was doing," Ms. Apple said, "I was walking away."
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