Pale September

Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Apple wrote the song for an ex-boyfriend of hers. The guy dated her sister's best friend and lost his virginity in Fiona's bed to this girl. He didn't pay much attention to Fiona until much later.

    Fiona wrote "Pale September" after they had broken up. Later, she spoke to him and told him about the song in what she described as a "nice" conversation.
  • This is one of more jazz-inflected songs on Tidal, Apple's debut album. The lyric is rather poetic, with lines like:

    As the embers of the summer lost their breath and disappeared
    My heart went cold and only hollow rhythms resounded from within


    Many were surprised to learn that Apple was just 18 when the album was released - her songs seemed much older than she was.
  • Apple was never in a band, so when she recorded Tidal, it was with various session musicians. On this one, the British musician Sara Lee played bass; Matt Chamberlain, once a member of Pearl Jam, played drums; and Jon Brion, who later produced Apple, played vibraphone and tack piano.

Comments: 9

  • Ken from Baltimore I always felt it was about a relationship where the girl is really emotional and protective of her heart and the guy is more simple. But something about his simplicity allows her to open her heart and she loves him. Lines about “he goes along like a water lily” yet unaware of the depth upon which he floats, made me think the depths is the emotions and he stays kinda shallow. He probably loves her but doesn’t get too into his feelings. Whereas she’s cold and untrusting. But something about his lack of awareness of emotions allows her thaw and be a nurturer; a role she’s not usually comfortable playing.

    I don’t know. That’s what I’ve always read into it. And now prefer it that way.
  • Trina from Eagle River, AkThis song made me think of my first born son. The circumstances behind his birth and what I was feeling before he was conceived and after he was born. I understand the meaning behind the song but to me me it hit home in another way. My winter did give way to warmth as I was singing him to sleep. Before he was conceived only hollow rhythms resounded from within, and he did rise as brilliant as the moon in full. He sank in the burrow of my keep. This song makes me cry because I'm reminded of the emotion I felt while pregnant and after giving birth to my first true love, my son. Before him I was cold at heart and because of him all my armour had fallen down in a pile at my feet. I love this song. It is truly deep.
  • A from London, United KingdomThe 'keep' is the most secure part of a fortress, she's talking about her heart! This song is about falling in love, gradually and gently. She meets someone who sinks slowly into her heart through the wall she's built around it and she finds her armour - her defences - falling down at her feet, she's powerless to fight the growing love she feels for this person... 'Winter giving way to warm' makes me feel that she saw herself cold and icy before melting into the warmth of this new love. A beautiful song and one of my favourites, I don't understand how anyone could think it's about rape! I really like the pregnancy metaphor though.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnGentle little song.
  • G from Cleve, AndorraNo, it is not about rape. It is about Fiona making a new friend after a long time of being alone and singing to him as he drifts to sleep.
  • Nat from West Covina, CaIt sounds to me like a pregnancy. "he sank in the burrow of my keep", " and he floats just as a water lily" and this turns her winter into warm as she sings to baby to sleep. the baby finds a home in her, for what misfortunes, the baby knows her touch will reap. And so her armour comes tumbling down at her feet.
  • Fiona from Nycity, AlDamn that song is deep. It's more likely that her being raped made that song, as opposed to some guy who didn't do much for her..;p
  • Fiona from Nycity, AlFiona wrote this song after she was raped , she was 13 or 14 when it happened. Read into her lyrics, and it tells the story of it. "he sank in the burrow of my keeps".
    She gives in to the pain and succumbs to what is happening to her, and realizes that it is a fight or flight situation and she is better off if she sort of acts like the actions are about lust, and it sort of helps dull the pain away and her armour falls down and he takes what is all of her as a new woman emerges.
  • Morbidious from Deerlodge, TnI wish she'd help me.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Subversive Songs Used To Sell

Subversive Songs Used To SellSong Writing

Songs about drugs, revolution and greed that have been used in commercials for sneakers, jeans, fast food, cruises and cars.

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music Scene

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music SceneSong Writing

With $50 and a glue stick, Bruce Pavitt created Sub Pop, a fanzine-turned-label that gave the world Nirvana and grunge. He explains how motivated individuals can shift culture.

Movie Stars In Music Videos

Movie Stars In Music VideosSong Writing

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos.

Jimmy Webb

Jimmy WebbSongwriter Interviews

Webb talks about his classic songs "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and "MacArthur Park."

Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs

Tim Butler of The Psychedelic FursSongwriter Interviews

Tim and his brother Richard are the Furs' foundation; Tim explains how they write and tells the story of "Pretty In Pink."

Jon Anderson of Yes

Jon Anderson of YesSongwriter Interviews

From the lake in "Roundabout" to Sister Bluebird in "Starship Trooper," Jon Anderson talks about how nature and spirituality play into his lyrics for Yes.