the circular runner

genius is like porn: I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it….

In media, music, writing on July 19, 2012 at 6:20 am

Recently, I heard an interview between Fiona Apple and Marc Maron.  It was on the WTF podcast, which I recommend listening to if you are interested in Apple or if you aren’t familiar with Marc Maron as an interviewer. I was excited to hear the talk because I love Apple’s music.  Well, I’m not sure I always love the music, but I’m always excited about her albums because I think Apple is a genius.

That word gets overused.  There are very few geniuses.  I tend to think of them the way one should think of a Pegasus. As in you’re walking down some country road and over to the left, you see a pasture and some horses race by.  If you’ve ever seen horses run, not being ridden but just running, then you probably know that the sight is awe-inspiring.  Horses are beautiful animals.  The power, the speed, the grace.  But these animals, as amazing as they are, are not geniuses.  The genius is the white horse running in the opposite direction from the rest of the pack.  The one with the wings.  The one that now is flying toward you.  Jesus, you’re thinking, horses don’t do that.  You might be scared at seeing this.  You might want to get up close and touch this crazy horse.  Maybe you want to do both at once.

Well, damn skippy!!!  Your reaction is natural.  Horses don’t fly.  Neither do writers nor singers nor painters nor fill-in-the-blank.  But occasionally one of these people does the impossible.  That’s the genius.

Listening to Apple sing makes me feel like I’m seeing a Pegasus.  Again, I’m not always loving the music.  But I want to understand it.  I want to know how/why a thirty-something singer gets away with putting out an album with a title that’s got so many words that you have to use an elipsis.  (The most recent title is The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do)  Is it pretentious? You might want to say so but I’m not sure.  Mind you, this is an album that has a song on it called Hot Butter, which I kid you not is a pop song that uses kettle drum, piano, and voices in counter-point.  How does Apple pull this off?  How is this not some kind of crazy art song?  How is this song popular enough that it plays on a Starbucks speaker system, which is how I first heard it?

It’s the power of genius, my friends.  You might not like the song, you might not like her music, but you know that Fiona Apple has wings.

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  1. G,
    Fiona’s latest is superlative. Simply.
    Le Clown

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