Fiona Apple knows why the caged bird sings. "By putting the suffering in my life into songs, I've been able to understand myself," she says from an Indiana U. tour stop.
Reading poetry by Maya Angelou inspired Apple's introspection. "I came across her poetry when I felt like everyone hated me. She wrote about her vulnerability when she felt humiliated and ashamed."
So why is the waif-ish 19-year-old so pained?
Those who hear smokey radio hits like "Shadowboxer" and "Sleep to Dream" would say whatever her pain is, it's made her wise beyond her years. According to the songwriter/singer/pianist, she was somewhat of a loner as a kid, but she's not ailing now. "I've lived a lot in my little life, but I'm not saying that I know something about relationships or life. I just say what I feel and what I know."
Apple's not concerned with being the "next big thing," either. "I don't care if what I am doing is hip or cool. I don't want to spend the rest of my life trying to figure that out."
Compared to Apple's attention-thirsty peers, her attitude is a little unconventional. She was signed by the first record exec. who heard her demo, pays little attention to SoundScan results and never attended concerts before her own. "I still don't know what I'm doing on stage."
Modest as she remains about her rise in the biz, the native New Yorker looks out for herself by letting both experience and inexperience be her guide.