A Look Back At Fiona Apple's Debut 'Tidal' 20 Years Later

Fiona Apple

(Radio.com) The very first line that introduced us to Fiona Apple in 1996 was spine-chilling and elegant, laced with the best facets of blue-eyed soul and filled with promise for the whole record to follow. Yet, it was so simple: 'I tell you how I feel, but you don't care."

And so begins 'Sleep To Dream," the opening track of Apple's renowned debut album, Tidal. The album was released twenty years ago (release date: July 23, 1996) and was penned when Apple was barely 18. At that time, she likely couldn't have anticipated just how many people would care; how many would listen intently to her as she poured out her emotions; how many would crave her perspective for years to come. But when she first put Tidal out there, the reaction wasn't what she had expected.

'I was so miserable," Apple reflected in a 2006 interview for the SundanceTV series, Iconoclasts. 'The whole reason I wanted to make an album in the first place was because I was so tired of trying to explain my personality to people. I was so uncomfortable with the social situations, that I thought - I really, really thought - that if I had a CD of songs, I could just put that out in the world and then everyone would understand me," she explained, her voice picking up notes of sorrow and resentment. 'Not only did I not get what I wanted, but I got exactly the opposite of what I wanted to have happen. Instead of having everyone be my friend and understand me, everybody thought I was awful."

Well, not everybody. In fact, Tidal's game-changing single, 'Criminal," would earn the young singer-songwriter a GRAMMY for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and ultimately introduce a whole generation to her catchy, jazzy, and, at times, vitriolic music. Tidal would go on to sell millions of copies and be certified three times platinum in the U.S. But that didn't mean Apple wasn't paddling against the crashing waves of judgement that form when a new artist - especially a young, female singer-songwriter - is suddenly thrust into the center of the pop culture conversation. Her frustration with this newfound celebrity was brutally clear in her famed 1997 MTV VMAs appearance, as she reluctantly clutched the Moonman for Best New Artist and vented against her stardom. 'What I want to say is, everybody out there that's watching, everybody that's watching this world - this world is bulls-. And you shouldn't model your life about what you think that we think is cool, and what we're wearing, and what we're saying and everything. Go with yourself. Go with yourself." Read more here.

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Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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