Sleep to Dream

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"Sleep to Dream"
Sleep to Dream.jpg
Single by Fiona Apple
from the album Tidal
B-side "Never Is a Promise"
Released April 14, 1997 (1997-04-14)
Format CD single, 10" single, music download
Recorded Ocean Way Recorders
(Los Angeles, California)
Length 4:10
Label Work, Columbia
Songwriter(s) Fiona Apple
Producer(s) Andrew Slater
Fiona Apple singles chronology
"Slow Like Honey"
"Sleep to Dream"
"Slow Like Honey"
"Sleep to Dream"

"Sleep to Dream" is a song written and recorded by American alternative singer-songwriter Fiona Apple. It was released on April 14, 1997 by Work Records and Columbia Records as the second single from her debut studio album Tidal (1996).

The song's accompanying music video was filmed by French director Stéphane Sednaoui and received positive reviews. Apple won the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist in a Video in 1997, in which it garnered worldwide controversy after she proclaimed during her acceptance speech: "This world is bullshit, and you shouldn't model your life about what we think is cool, and what we're wearing and what we're saying." Despite entering on a single Billboard chart, the song remains one of Apple's most successful singles to date.

Background and release[edit]

"Sleep to Dream" was reportedly Apple's first lyric, penned when she was 14.[1] She recorded the song with collaborator Jon Brion in 1995 immediately after being signed to a record deal with Sony Music Entertainment. It was later released as the third single from Tidal. Apple performed "Sleep to Dream" in various events, notably on the television special MTV Unplugged: Fiona Apple.[2] A live version recorded at the SXSW appears on the deluxe version of Apple's fourth studio album, The Idler Wheel... (2012).

Chart performance and critical reception[edit]

The song peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart on the week ending April 26, 1997 and spent 13 weeks there.[3] It also peaked at number 84 on the UK Singles Chart[4] (number 79 on the compressed chart, with exclusions below number 75[5]), becoming Apple's first song to chart in the United Kingdom. "Sleep to Dream" has also received critical acclaim from music critics. Christopher John Farley of TIME wrote: "In "Sleep to Dream", she assumes a smoldering anger that comes off like a muted Alanis Morissette."[6] People Magazine also remarked: "A sort of hybrid of Alanis Morissette and Nina Simone—part rebellious rocker and part sultry jazz singer—Apple comes on tough in songs like "Sleep to Dream," a slow, smoldering tune in which she kisses off a reluctant lover ("You say love is a hell you cannot bear/And I say gimme mine back and then go there, for all I care")."[7]

American R&B singer Macy Gray tried to cover the song, but found difficulty doing it instead. She remarked "her songs are so moody, and if you take it out of that it doesn’t sound right."[8] American rapper Kanye West also expressed enthusiasm over the song's lyrical content, saying: "one of my favorite opening lines to a song... "I have never been so insulted in all my life!"[9] American soul singer Bettye LaVette's studio album I've Got My Own Hell to Raise (2005) is titled after a lyric of "Sleep to Dream", which also includes a cover of the song.[10][11]

Music video[edit]

The music video of the song was French director Stéphane Sednaoui and was released in May 1997. It features Apple singing in different rooms in an apartment, all the while suffering from insomnia.

1997 MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech[edit]

Apple won the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist in a Video at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) on September 4, 1997, where she was presented by Elton John.[12] During her acceptance speech, Apple was quoted saying:

She ended her speech thanking her mother, her sister (Maude Maggart), Andrew Slater (the song's producer).[13] She saying to the audience "It’s just stupid that I’m in this world. But you’re all very cool to me. So thank you very much."[16] Immediately after ending her speech, host Chris Rock remarked: "Let's hear it for Fiona X!"[13][17] The speech was initially greeted with applause and cheer from the audience.[13][17] However, it received condemnation from most of the press media around the world,[13] with some of them, such as The New Yorker and NYRock, deemed it to be "ungrateful" and "ridiculous".[18][19]

The incident became one of the controversial moments in the VMA history,[12][13][14] and a career-defining moment for Apple.[12][20][21][22] However, she never apologized for the matter. In an interview with the Rolling Stone on January 22, 1998, Apple responded by saying: "I just had something on my mind and I just said it. And that's really the foreshadowing of my entire career and my entire life. When I have something to say, I'll say it."[22][23] In an interview with the New York Magazine on June 2012, Apple remarked what happened after the incident: “When I walked backstage, I was proud of myself. And they gave me the silent treatment! They pretended I wasn’t there! It was the moment I learned that they needed me more than I need them. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done."[16]

Track listing[edit]

CD single[24]
  1. "Shadowboxer" - 3:56
  2. "Never Is a Promise" - 5:56
7" Vinyl single[24]
  1. "Sleep To Dream"
  2. "Never Is A Promise"
  3. "Sullen Girl" (Live)
  4. "Pale September" (Live)


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Tidal.[25]

  • Bass – Dan Rothchild
  • Drums, Percussion – Matt Chamberlain
  • Guitar, Vibraphone, Piano [Tack] – Jon Brion
  • Piano, Keyboards [Chamberlain] – Patrick Warren
  • Vocals - Fiona Apple


Chart (1997) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[26] 159
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[27] 75
UK Singles Chart[5] 79
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[28] 28

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Catalog
United States[24] April 14, 1997 (1997-04-14) CD single, 10" Vinyl Work Records, Columbia Records 663978 1
United Kingdom[24] Columbia Records XPCD 862


  1. ^ Sutcliffe, Phil, "Hard Core Pawn", Q, March 2000, pp46-48
  2. ^ "MTV Unplugged - Fiona Apple". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Sleep to Dream - Fiona Apple - Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Chart Log UK 1994-2010 > A – Azzido Da Bass". Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Official Charts > Fiona Apple". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  6. ^ Fairley, Christopher John (29 July 1996). "Fiona Apple: Wise beyond her years". TIME. Time Inc. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Tidal". People. Time Inc. 16 September 1996. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Macy Gray Sings Metallica, Radiohead and More on 'Covered'". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  9. ^ Ryan, Chris. "10 Things Kanye West Has Enthusiastically Endorsed Via His Twitter". MTV. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Singer Bettye Lavette covers 'em". Quebecor Media. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "Music review: I've Got My Own Hell to Raise". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. 26 September 2005. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Parker, Lyndsey. "We Got Your Crazy: The Wackiest VMA Moments Ever". Yahoo! Music. Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f "1997 Video Music Awards". MTV. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Montgomery, James. "Kanye West Isn't The Only Bad Boy In Video Music Awards History". MTV. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  15. ^ "Fiona Apple world is bullshit". June 2, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c "‘I Just Want to Feel Everything’: Hiding Out With Fiona Apple, Musical Hermit". New York. New York Media, LLC. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "The 2010 MTV VMA Countdown: Fiona Apple Tells Us A Thing Or Two". MTV. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  18. ^ "Extraordinary Measures". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "Fiona Apple Suffers for Her Sins (and So Do We)". NYROCK. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "The 5 Most Absurd Moments in VMA History". Demand Media. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  21. ^ Allen, Jim. "Five Videos of Fiona Apple Being Awesome". MTV. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  22. ^ a b "Fiona Apple's Bad, Bad Girl Moments". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  23. ^ Heath, Chris (January 22, 1998). "The Caged Bird Sings". Rolling Stone (778). p. 30. Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2008. 
  24. ^ a b c d "Fiona Apple - Sleep to Dream". Discogs. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  25. ^ "Fiona Apple - Tidal". Discogs. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  26. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 12 July 2016". Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  27. ^ "Archive Chart: 1997-05-04". Scottish Singles Top 40. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  28. ^ "Fiona Apple – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Fiona Apple.