Fiona Apple – When the Pawn…: #409 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Fiona Apple - When the Pawn

So why is Fiona Apple’s When the Pawn… on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

Let’s knock one topic off at the top. When the Pawn… is the shortened name for the full album. The really short version, I should say. The actual album title is a full blown poem written by Fiona Apple “in response to unfavorable reactions from readers of an unfavorable Spin magazine cover story about her.”

When the pawn hits the conflicts he thinks like a king
What he knows throws the blows when he goes to the fight
And he’ll win the whole thing ‘fore he enters the ring
There’s no body to batter when your mind is your might
So when you go solo, you hold your own hand
And remember that depth is the greatest of heights
And if you know where you stand, then you know where to land
And if you fall it won’t matter, cuz you’ll know that you’re right

I find the poem to be pretty intriguing, really, and it has kind of a hip hop rhythm to it (When the pawn HITS the CONFLICTS he thinks like a king). Anyway, onward to the album proper. Speaking of hip hop, “Limp” maps a hip hop drum beat against Fiona Apple’s confessional vocal stylings and piano. The mix is very exciting and compelling, and it’s one of many reasons why Apple is one of my all-time favorite singer songwriters.

Apple has also consistently created great music videos, which I think is mainly driven by the fact that she’s such a compelling performer. “Paper Bag” is my favorite song on When the Pawn… The melody is terrific, and Fiona Apple’s voice as always is beguiling and gorgeous. There’s also really nice and subtle use of horn instruments on this one.

“Fast As You Can” is a speedier paced number that effectively downshifts a few minutes in to emphasize an emotional bridge section. There’s a little bit of an eastern flavor here as well that changes things up in a pleasing way.

Overall, When the Pawn… is an album that is consistently strong front to back. I’m listening to “The Way Things Are” while I write these words and… you know what, I’m running out of words! It’s just great. Check it out.

Some stats & info about Fiona Apple – When the Pawn…

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Pop Music, Alternative Singer-Songwriter, Alternative Pop, Indie Rock, Rock Music
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #108
  • All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • When was When the Pawn…released? 1999
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #409 out of 1,000

Fiona Apple’s When the Pawn… on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Fiona Apple’s When the Pawn…that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

And I went crazy again today, looking for a strand to climb, looking for a little hope.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery. But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.