Twenty years ago today, Fiona Apple—only 19—took the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards and spoke her truth.
Accepting the award for Best New Artist in a Video from Elton John in 1997, Apple had not prepared a speech and she was glad she didn’t:
Oh, man. I didn’t prepare a speech and I’m sorry, but I’m glad that I didn’t because I’m not gonna do this like everybody else does it, ‘cause everyone I should be thanking—I’m really sorry, but I have to use this time. See, Maya Angelou said that we as human beings at our best can only create opportunities and I’m gonna use this opportunity the way that I want to use it. So what I want to say is everybody out there who’s watching, everybody that’s watching this world, this world is bullshit. And you shouldn’t model your life—wait a second—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.
And there’s just a few people that I want to say something to: I wanna say Mamma, I love you, I’m so glad that we’re becoming friends. Amber, I love you. You’re my sister, you’re my best friend. Andrew Slater, no one else could have produced this album and no one else did. Um, and it’s just stupid that I’m in this world, but you’re all very cool to me so thank you very much. And I’m sorry for all the people that I didn’t thank, but man, it’s good. Bye.
The world is still bullshit. Watch this Fiona Apple video—not “Sleep to Dream,” for which she won her VMA, but “Paper Bag” from later down the line of her career—and feel momentarily better:
Man, it’s good. Bye.
(Video via MTV.)