Sammy the Seal

“I’m a hot knife, he’s a pat of butter”

In vinyl on Sunday, 5 May, 2013 at 13:01

Song: Hot Knife
Artist: Fiona Apple
Album: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Why is this song so awesome? Well, there’s:

– the sweet, goofy conceit of the lyrics; e.g. “I’m a hot knife, he’s a pat of butter”,
– the straightforward minimalism that makes its point but allows the song to move and flow,
– the addictive rhythm, especially of the vocals (danceable, no doubt),
– the rounds and vocal interplay between Fiona and her sister Maude,
– her excited, feisty yelps,
– the weird fact that, for once,  she’s singing about the joys of love, and not its trappings and complications,
– the gift of four vocal parts to choose from when singing along,
– the way all four vocal parts merge at the end into a wonderful, semi-chaotic chorus,
– the unabashed, unmistakable joy, brightness, and confidence, not just of the tone and tempo, but of Fiona’s state of being. There’s her girlish admissions– “he makes my heart a CinemaScope screen showing a dancing bird of paradise”; her inhibition– “he excites me!…. I get feisty!”; her calm, smooth assurance– “you can relax around me”; and her playful and subtle sauciness– “maybe he could teach me something, maybe I could teach him too”, and
– the way the song (and album) ends succinctly on a single, unadorned syllable.

Surely one of the most favorite things I’ve heard in some time. So good.


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