Ode to Fiona

Stephanie Eisler Vance
2 min readOct 26, 2021

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The boys thought they knew what she meant: “I’ve been a bad, bad girl.”

The boys only wanted to watch the music video — knee high socks, cotton briefs, heroin chic. They thought it was about sex. At thirteen, I saw it was about loneliness.

The only girl in the room with her eyes wide open, too wide open, crawling out of her skin at the thought of the room she’d found herself in. Radiohead but make it sultry, Tori Amos but make it nubile. Fiona Apple had all the makings, but Fiona Apple did not want to be your fantasy.

Fiona Apple wanted to corner, battle, exorcise the demons that pulled her to the piano in the first place. The boys did not know and did not care that those were her hands banging away, and when she declared “this world is bullshit” they laughed. This is not a thing coquettes say, what do you mean she doesn’t want it?

Fiona Apple wanted some peace of mind. I read once that after her first album, she spent a full year just walking the property of where she lived. Just…walking. You may see a waste of time, but at the time, I saw romance, the platonic ideal of Artist. Now, I recognize there is nothing romantic about that kind of weariness, betrayal, heartbreak.

Fiona Apple wanted to be loved. She wanted you to love her, and tell her so. What wasted unconditional love, please…be good to me before you’re gone.

Forgive me if I borrow a line from time to time, it’s hard to make a poem about her not also about me. I see by the grace of her tone, sometimes years after I already know it in my bones. Fiona Apple, my own personal atlas. It weighs a ton, but Fiona Apple makes this make sense.

Fiona Apple still wants to corner, battle, exorcise the demons that pulled her to the piano in the first place. I can hear it in her voice, mellifluous and raw, Fiona Apple still wants some peace of mind. I can hear it in her voice as clearly as I hear it in my own, Fiona Apple still wants to be loved. Andrew in my 7th grade music class did not want to hear that, but I did, and I am still here. And why were we ever framing everything by what the boys say anyway?

Fiona Apple is still fucking here, reaching for what is hers, and if you’ve been paying any attention at all, Fiona Apple was right.

I first performed this piece at Parkside Lounge on October 25, 2021.

I hope she sees this, dude.

My instagram (at stephmakesfaces) isn’t a Fiona Apple stan account, but it may as well be.

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