What is it?
The song Paper Bag by the American musician Fiona Apple from her 1999 music album When the Pawn.
Here is how Wikipedia describes this song:
“Paper Bag” is a song by American singer-songwriter Fiona Apple, released as the third single from her second studio album, When the Pawn… (1999).
The song earned Apple a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the 43rd Grammy Awards (2001).
Background And Composition
Apple wrote “Paper Bag” following an experience in which she mistook a plastic bag for a dove.
The event took place in Los Angeles following recording sessions for her previous studio album, Tidal (1996); Apple, reportedly upset at the time, was a passenger in a car being driven by her father.
Apple’s lyrics are what she calls “extensions of her journal”, many of which draw experiences from a rape and subsequent mental health problems, including disordered eating, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
The lyrics in “Paper Bag” are about minimizing different types of pain, something that is reflective of the feminine experience, and resonated with girls and women in online conversations associated heavily with trauma and eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa, a different disorder than Apple’s own.
“Hunger hurts, but starving works” became a common, relatable moniker in disordered eating communities.
Allmusic‘s Matthew Greenwald described “Paper Bag” as having a “loose, almost ragtime” melody and rhythm pattern, with an “up and down” chord pattern creating a “funky, looping feel”.
The Record noted the “infectious” song includes “Beatlesesque horns”.
The Boston Globe classified it as a “piano ditty” that “owes equally to Kurt Weill and Paul McCartney,” while The Buffalo News noted that it “provides a more contemporary hip hop sound” than other songs on her album.