When the Pawn...

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When the Pawn...
Fiona apple when the pawn.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 9, 1999
LabelClean Slate / Epic
ProducerJon Brion
Fiona Apple chronology
When the Pawn...
Extraordinary Machine
Singles from When the Pawn...
  1. "Fast as You Can"
    Released: November 20, 1999
  2. "Limp"
    Released: 2000
  3. "Paper Bag"
    Released: November 21, 2000

When the Pawn... is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Fiona Apple. Its entire title is When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing 'fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might so When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right.

Released by Epic Records in the United States on November 9, 1999, When the Pawn... was wholly written by Apple, with production by Jon Brion. In 2010, Spin magazine named the album the 106th greatest of the last 25 years,[1] and Slant Magazine named it the 79th best album of the 1990s.[2] The album received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Album.[3] It broke the record of being the album with the longest title.[4]


The album title is a poem Apple wrote on tour after reading her Spin magazine's 1997 cover story and the readers' negative letters about her.[5] Rolling Stone magazine mocked the title/poem, writing, "When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Oh the Hell With It".[6] "It came from being made fun of," she rued, "and then, of course, it becomes a thing I'm being made fun of for."[7]

Upon its release, the album broke the record for longest album title at 444 characters (previously held by a volume in The Best... Album in the World...Ever!).[8]



The first single, "Fast as You Can", was fairly popular and received moderate radio and video airplay. It reached the top 20 on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and became Apple's first top 40 hit on the UK Singles Chart. The follow-up singles, "Limp" and especially "Paper Bag", which was nominated for a Grammy Award, were less successful. Apple's boyfriend at the time, filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, directed videos for all three singles.[citation needed]

In 2019, Apple collaborated with King Princess on a cover of "I Know". The song was released for Spotify's RISE program on January 25.[9]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[11]
Chicago Sun-Times3.5/4 stars[12]
Entertainment WeeklyA[13]
Los Angeles Times3.5/4 stars[14]
Q4/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[6]
The Village VoiceA−[19]

Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone gave the album three-and-a-half out of five stars, and stated: "if you find this twenty-two-year-old bad seed intolerably self-indulgent and were rooting for her to crash and burn with a humiliating second-album spaz-out—admit it, you were—you lose."[6] Entertainment Weekly's David Browne awarded the album an A grade, praising Jon Brion's production as well as Apple's songwriting: "Apple hasn’t gained much in psychic confidence following the success of Tidal. On When the Pawn..., Apple presents herself as a mental shambles, and she’s more than happy to tell us about it."[13] Pitchfork rated the album eight out of ten stars, with reviewer Chip Chanko praising Apple's lyrics, writing: "[Apple] seems older. Her voice is full of a heartfelt soul that seems almost timeless. While Billie Holiday would never have considered the possibility of lines like, 'It won't be long till you'll be/ Lying limp in your own hand,' Apple executes them flawlessly with a modern passion.[16] Amy Linden of Vibe wrote: "When the Pawn... is full of images that resonate. Apple's a sad, sultry woman with a sense of who she is—even if that person isn't someone she wants to be. Once again, her pain brings us joy."[20] Piers Martin of NME rated it a 5 out of 10, calling it Apples's "second album of [Tori] Amos-aping MTV-branded Lilith Fair fodder."[15]

As of 2005, sales of the album in the United States had exceeded 922,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[21]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Fiona Apple, except where noted.

1."On the Bound"5:22
2."To Your Love"3:40
4."Love Ridden"3:22
5."Paper Bag"3:39
6."A Mistake"4:56
7."Fast as You Can"4:38
8."The Way Things Are"4:16
9."Get Gone"4:07
10."I Know"4:55


  • Fiona Apple – piano, vocals, synthesized bass (track 7)
  • Jon Brion – bass, keyboards, vibraphone, guitars, drums, percussion
  • John Bainbridge – orchestration
  • Robert Becker – viola
  • Charlie Bisharatviolin
  • Mike Breaux – woodwind
  • Denyse Buffman – viola
  • Jonathan "Butch" Nortondrums, percussion
  • Eve Butler – violin
  • Matt Chamberlain – percussion, drums
  • Susan Chatman – violin
  • Greg Cohenbass guitar
  • Larry Corbett – cello
  • Mike Elizondo – bass guitar
  • Armen Garabedian – violin
  • Berj Garabedian – violin
  • Scott Haupert – viola
  • Suzie Katayama – cello
  • Wendell Kelly – horn
  • Jim Keltner – drums
  • Peter Kent – violin
  • Brian Leonard – violin
  • Maria Newman – viola
  • Robert Peterson – violin
  • Michele Richards – violin
  • Edmund Stein – violin
  • Patrick Warren – Chamberlin, Wurlitzer
  • John Wittenberg – violin


  • Jon Brion – producer, mixing, assistant engineer
  • Rich Costey – engineer
  • Tom Banghart – assistant engineer
  • Rob Brill – assistant engineer
  • Greg Collins – assistant engineer
  • Bryan Jackson – assistant engineer
  • Steve Mixdorf – assistant engineer
  • John Tyree – assistant engineer
  • Eddy Scheyer – mastering
  • Valerie Pack – production coordination
  • Rich Costey – programming
  • John Bainbridge – arranger
  • Fiona Apple – design, cover art concept


Chart (1999/2000) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[22] 54
UK Albums Chart 46
US Billboard 200 13
US Billboard Top Internet Albums 1
Title Chart (1999) Peak
"Fast as You Can" UK Singles Chart 33
US Billboard Adult Top 40 29
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 20

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Japan (RIAJ)[23] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[24] Gold 922,000 [21]^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years". Spin. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Best Albums of the '90s". February 14, 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-02-18. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
  3. ^ "Fiona Apple". GRAMMY.com. 2018-05-22. Retrieved 2018-06-25.
  4. ^ Cossar, Neil (2010). This Day in Music: An Every Day Record of Musical Feats and Facts: An Every Day Record of Musical Feats and Facts. Omnibus Press. p. 395. ISBN 978-0-857-12362-6.
  5. ^ Harrington, Richard (November 28, 1999). "Fiona Apple: The Time Is Ripe". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Sheffield, Rob (November 25, 1999). "When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King..." Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  7. ^ Sutcliffe, Phil, "Hard Core Pawn", Q, March 2000, pp. 46-48
  8. ^ "12 Guinness World Records That Exist For No Real ReasonWorld's Longest Album Title". Complex. Retrieved 2018-06-25.
  9. ^ https://www.npr.org/2019/01/25/688618778/king-princess-and-fiona-apple-collaborate-on-new-version-of-i-know?t=1548436537592
  10. ^ "Reviews for When The Pawn... by Fiona Apple". Metacritic. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King... – Fiona Apple". AllMusic. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  12. ^ Reed, Bobby (November 14, 1999). "Fiona Apple, 'When the Pawn . . .' (Clean Slate/Epic)". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on November 18, 2018. Retrieved October 17, 2016. (Subscription required (help)).
  13. ^ a b Browne, David (November 12, 1999). "When the Pawn..." Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  14. ^ Gardner, Elysa (November 9, 1999). "Assured Apple Challenges Her Audience". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Martin, Piers (March 15, 2000). "Fiona Apple – When The Pawn..." NME. Archived from the original on June 4, 2000. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  16. ^ a b Chanko, Chip (December 31, 1999). "Fiona Apple: When the Pawn..." Pitchfork. Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  17. ^ Aizlewood, John (March 2000). "Fiona Apple: When The Pawn Hits The Conflicts..." Q (162): 101. Archived from the original on 2000-11-21. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  18. ^ Weisband, Eric (December 1999). "Fiona Apple: When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King / What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight..." Spin. 15 (12): 215. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 7, 2000). "Consumer Guide: Cleanup Time". The Village Voice. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  20. ^ Linden, Amy (December 1999). "Fiona Apple - 'When the Pawn...'". Vibe. 7 (10): 257. ISSN 1070-4701.
  21. ^ a b Inc, Nielsen Business Media (8 October 2005). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. – via Google Books.
  22. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  23. ^ "Japanese album certifications – Fiona Apple – When the pawn" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan.
  24. ^ "American album certifications – Fiona Apple – When the pawn". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]