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Fiona Apple :: My Favorite Artists/Bands

Fiona Apple immediately reminds me of the nineties, even though I have listened to her music far past those years. Perhaps it is due to the fact that so many of the songs off her first two albums resonated so deeply with me during the nineties. I listen to them now and my first feelings go back to the girl I was then, even when some of the songs have revised meaning to me now. She still feels like a sonic postcard singing me back to my late twenties.

I felt so lost back then, so transient, yet ever so hopeful. I threw my heart into the ocean, tethering myself to shifting tides, yet I refused to note the red flag dangers. That said, I saw myself full of holes that could never be filled, and scars that I thought no one would ever want to look at. Still, I kept loving and trying to believe. Still, I kept dreaming and surviving.

Fiona Apple on rooftop at Gramercy Park, NYC 1996

Tidal was one of two go-to albums I clung to while going through a recovery. When the Pawn gifted me the courage to leave, and to try for love with someone new. The other albums, though I do like them quite a bit, never have had the same impact on me. That said, the non-album song Container, used as the theme to the recent cable show, The Affair, definitely resonates with who I am now.

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Fiona Apple, born in September of 1977 as Fiona Apple McAfee Maggart, is an American singer-songwriter, pianist and record producer. Classically trained on piano as a child, Apple began composing her own songs when she was eight years old.

Growing up, Apple spent her school years in New York City, but spent summers with her father in Los Angeles. When learning to play piano, she would often take sheet music and translate guitar tablature into the corresponding notes. Apple later began to play along with jazz standard compositions after becoming proficient, through which she discovered Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, who became major influences on her.

At age twelve, Apple was raped outside the apartment she shared with her mother and sister in Manhattan.She then developed an eating disorder, purposely slimming her developing body, which she saw as “bait“.

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Apple was introduced to the music industry in 1994, when she gave a demo tape containing the songs Never Is a Promise, Not One of Those Times, and He Takes a Taxi to her friend who was the babysitter of music publicist Kathryn Schenker. Schenker then passed the tape along to Sony Music executive Andy Slater. Apple’s abilities captured his attention, and Slater signed her to a record deal.

In 1996, Apple’s debut album, Tidal, was released by Work Records and Columbia Records. The album sold 2.7 million copies and was certified three times platinum in the U.S. Criminal, the third single, became a hit and the song reached the top forty on the U.S.Billboard Hot 100. The song’s controversial Mark Romanek-directed music video played on MTV. Fiona received a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the single Criminal.

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Other singles from Tidal included Shadowboxer, Sleep to Dream, and Never Is a Promise. Apple accepted MTV Video Music Award for “Best New Artist” for her song Sleep to Dream in 1997

During this period, Apple also made recordings of The Beatles’ Across the Universe and Percy Mayfield’s Please Send Me Someone to Love for the soundtrack of the film Pleasantville. She later canceled the last twenty-one dates on a tour in support of her album due to “personal family problems“.

Fiona’s second album, When the Pawn…, was released in 1999. Its full title is a poem Apple wrote after reading letters that appeared in Spin regarding an article that had cast her in a negative light in an earlier issue. The title’s length earned it a spot in the Guinness Book of Records for 2001. However, as of October 2007, it no longer has the longest album title, as Soulwax released Most of the Remixes, are mix album whose title surpasses When the Pawn‘s length by 100 characters.

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When the Pawn was cultivated during Apple’s relationship with film director Paul Thomas Anderson. When the Pawn, which was produced by Jon Brion, used more expressive lyrics, experimented more with drum loops, and incorporated both the Chamberlin and drummer Matt Chamberlain. The album received a positive reception from publications such as The New York Times and Rolling Stone. It did not fare as well commercially as her debut, though it was an RIAA-certified platinum album and sold one million copies in the U.S.

The album’s lead single, Fast as You Can, reached the top twenty on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart and became Apple’s first Top 40 hit in the UK. The videos for two follow-up singles, Paper Bag and Limp (directed by then-boyfriend Anderson), received very little play.

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Apple’s third album, Extraordinary Machine, was originally produced by Jon Brion. In spring 2002, Apple and Jon Brion, her longtime friend and producer on When the Pawn, met for their weekly lunch meeting. Brion reportedly “begged” Apple to make another album. Apple agreed, and Brion went to Apple’s label, Epic Records, with strict stipulations (including no deadline), which the label eventually agreed to.

Recording sessions began in 2002, at Ocean Way studios in Nashville, Tennessee, but later moved to the Paramour Mansion in Los Angeles. Work on the album continued until 2003, and in May of that year it was submitted to Sony executives. In 2004 and 2005, tracks were leaked on the Internet in MP3 format and played on U.S. and international radio. Subsequently, MP3s of the entire album went online. Although a Web site distributing the album was quickly shut down, it soon reached P2P networks and was downloaded by fans. A fan-led campaign supported the album’s official release.

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In late 2010, Billboard published an article stating that Fiona was planning on releasing a new album in spring 2011. However, the album was not released in the spring and Billboard reported later that Epic was not aware of a record. Fiona delayed the album’s release until 2012, explaining that she was waiting “until her label found a new president and that she didn’t want her work to be mishandled amid corporate disarray.”

In January 2012, after its new record label head, LA Reid hinted at new music from Apple, Epic Records announced that the album would be released later in the year. Apple announced performances at the South by Southwest Festival and a spring 2012 tour soon after. The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, Fiona’s fourth studio album, was released on June 19, 2012, in the United States.

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My Top 10 Favorite Fiona Apple Songs:

1. Sleep to Dream
from the album, Tidal

“I tell you how I feel but you don’t care.
I say tell me the truth but you don’t dare.
You say love is a Hell you cannot bear.
And I say gimme mine back and then go there,
for all I care.”

2. Paper Bag
from the album, When the Pawn

“I said, ‘Honey, I don’t feel so good,
don’t feel justified,
come on put a little love here in my void’.
He said, ‘It’s all in your head,’
and I said, ‘so’s everything’,
but he didn’t get it.
I thought he was a man,
but he was just a little boy.”

3. I Know
from the album, When the Pawn

“And you can use my skin,
to bury your secrets in,
and I will settle you down.”

4. Container
from the intro to HBO’s The Affair (no album track)

“I have only one thing to do and that’s,
to be the wave that I am and then,
sink back into the ocean.”

5. Fast as You Can 
from the album, When the Pawn

“‘Cause I’m tired of whys,
choking on whys,
just need a little because,
because.”

6. Pale September
from the album, Tidal

“And all my armor falling down in a pile at my feet,
and my winter giving way to warm,
as I’m singing him to sleep.”

7. Werewolf
from the album, The Idler Wheel

“I could liken you to a werewolf,
the way you left me for dead,
but I admit that I provided a full moon.”

8. Get Gone
from the album, When the Pawn

“Cuz I’ve done what I could for you,
and I do know what’s good for me,
and I’m not benefiting,
instead I’m sitting singing again,
singing again,
singing again.”

9. Never is a Promise
from the album, Tidal

“You’ll say you understand,
but you don’t understand.”

10. Extraordinary Machine
from the album, Extraordinary Machine

“If there was a better way to go then it would find me,
I can’t help it,
the road just rolls out behind me.
Be kind to me,
or treat me mean,
I’ll make the most of it I’m an extraordinary machine.”

Nickel Creek With Special Guest Fiona Apple In Concert

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