News/research from teacher-journalist Robert J. Ballantyne
July 12, 2020 #1 for 3 weeks

Fiona Apple, ‘Heavy Balloon’

Why this avant-garde pop song became part of the soundtrack of my life for three weeks between July 12 to August 1, 2020

Genre Key signature Tempo
Avant-Garde Pop F-Sharp Minor Slow (76-107 BPM)

Songwriter: Fiona Apple; Producers: Fiona Apple, Amy Aileen Wood, Sebastian Steinberg, David Garza

Every Fiona Apple album release is now akin to a cosmic event. The prodigious singer-songwriter launched her career with 1996’s Tidal, but she has released only four albums since. Her latest album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, arrived near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in North America and is thematically of the zeitgeist, intrapersonally-driven yet always longing for external connection.

Like other tracks on Bolt Cutters, “Heavy Balloon” relies on intricately scattered, home-brewed percussion, the pulse of which is centered around Apple’s forceful contralto vocals.

The song’s title refers to the dissonance of depression. When Apple sings the main hook, “I spread like strawberries / I climb like peas and beans,” she refers to the potential of growth not just toward uplift, but in other directions, too.

“Because strawberries are rhizomes, and so they grow in this network sideways, and peas and beans, they climb up, you can put them on trellises and stuff,” Apple told Vulture magazine. “I’m all right, it’s okay, don’t worry about me… I’m like strawberries, I’m going to spread myself out and take over this whole garden.”

As we all learn to adjust to a mid-pandemic lifestyle, “Heavy Balloon” reminds us that it’s important to consider our personal growth in multiple dimensions.


References

Apple, F. (2020). Heavy balloon [Song]. On Fetch the bolt cutters [Album]. Epic Records.

Apple, F. & Handler, R. (2020, April 17). The story behind every track on Fetch the Bolt Cutters. Vulture. Retrieved from https://www.vulture.com/2020/04/fiona-apple-fetch-the-bolt-cutters-songs.html

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Fetch the bolt cutters. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetch_the_Bolt_Cutters


More Fiona Apple from #TheLifeSoundtrack

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Fiona Apple, ‘Heavy Balloon’

Why this avant-garde pop song became part of the soundtrack of my life for three weeks between July 12 to August 1, 2020

Fiona Apple, ‘Cosmonauts’

This pop song became part of the soundtrack of my life for the week of June 14-20, 2020

Fiona Apple, ‘Shameika’

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Fiona Apple, ‘I Want You To Love Me’

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