First tracks of albums are a favorite thing of mine to “collect”. I like to catalog the opening tracks, listen to them a few times on repeat, and think about what they do to start an album, how they work with the rest of the tracks, how I feel when I first hear them. Do they introduce a particular theme? Style? Tone? Do they have significance to any concepts the album artistically presents? Does it work as a “first track”, to me? Is it one of my favorite “first tracks”?
Fiona Apple’s sophomore album, When the Pawn, released in 1999, starts off with the song “On the Bound”, today’s selected Song of the Day. I feel like “On the Bound” carries the sensibility and spirit of Fiona’s debut album, Tidal, while also introducing the emotional heft, and songwriting style and musicality tone that is unique to When the Pawn, Fiona’s second studio release.
“On the Bound” opens Fiona’s extremely long titled album, 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 (full title, also known as When the Pawn).
All songs on the album, including “On the Bound” were written by Fiona, and produced by Jon Brion.
New starts, decisions, choices, and a tendency to be impulsive, and regret it later, are what “On the Bound” say-sing to me. There is this juxtaposition of hope and doubt apparent in every line. A duality of optimism and pessimism that weaves through most, if not all, of the tracks on When the Pawn – especially in regards to relationships. It is what I most relate to, in this song, and the album – and why I often think that When the Pawn is my favorite Fiona release.
I believe in love, despite my history with love-attempts. I believe, and hope, in things working, lasting, staying good, even though my life experience says the opposite.
Regardless, I still believe. This can be a tough internal battle, of how my memory informs me, and what I want to believe in. It can add unintended pressure to my partner, too. A need for reassurance, for a feeling of love and happiness, a wanting to feel the other person believes in love, and in “us”. I think, too, its been a struggle in the past because I’ve kept myself, and my feelings, mostly locked away. And, I’ve rarely let myself really love.
I like to believe I’m different now, that the love in my life is different now, that this is the love that will work, last, stay good. And, part of why I believe this is that I’ve never really loved like this. But, the shadows and “realities” of the past are present. They toy with my faith. They often keep me up at night. They feed and water my insecurities. I’m persisting though, pushing forward with believing. I’m determined that love, and optimism, and “us” will win in the end, and in the always.
“On the Bound” by Fiona Apple
from the album, When the Pawn (1999)
Song of the Day
“Baby, lay your head on my lap one more time.
Tell me you belong to me.
Baby, say that it’s all gonna be alright.
I believe that it isn’t.”