Song of the Day #233: ‘Across the Universe’ – Fiona Apple

apple1Apparently one of the fringe benefits of dating a world-class filmmaker is taking advantage of his talents for your music videos. During their several years together, Paul Thomas Anderson directed half a dozen videos for Fiona Apple and every one is special.

Among my favorites are the big-band dance number he staged for the ‘Paper Bag’ video and today’s selection, a black-and-white short for her cover of The Beatles’ ‘Across the Universe.’

Apple covered the song for the Pleasantville soundtrack. Pleasantville is one of those movies that feels like it should be so much better than it actually is. It has a stellar cast, a thought-provoking plot and incredible visuals — the conceit is that a modern brother and sister enter the black and white 50s suburbia of a favorite TV show and begin to introduce color (literally) into the inhabitant’s lives. The results are messy, as passions flare up where before there was only cold perfection.

This video plays off a scene in the film where a mob attacks the diner owned by a man who has dared to embrace the “colored” people (there is a racial allegory in the film that at times get a bit heavy-handed). Note the cameo by actor John C. Reilly at the end (he’s the guy pulling the record out of the jukebox).

As for the song… well, everybody knows the song.

8 thoughts on “Song of the Day #233: ‘Across the Universe’ – Fiona Apple

  1. Amy says:

    Just curious why you chose to feature this song. Is it because you like the video? Wanted to remember the film? Or do you think this is a particularly effective cover of the song? Your admiration for Apple seems so often connected to an appreciation of her songwriting talents I’m just wondering what you think of her relatively pedestrian cover of this classic. Hardly as though she “Spooky Girlfriend”‘s it. 🙂

    As for the video – eh. I’m not sure I like the juxtaposition of the almost trans like delivery of the song while all the chaos goes on around her. Not sure what I think of it, really, but I’m definitely not sold on it being a brilliant concept.

  2. Amy says:

    Just watched the video for Paper Bag. WOW! Love it. Such a refreshing change for her (she actually wears a dress! A long one! And dances! And smiles!), and the video itself is gorgeous. I want to jump into that lobby.

    So did you only give it the check this out aside because Paper Bag is a “hit,” and you only want to feature songs your readers are less likely to know? Hmmm…. It seems that song ought to be highlighted during a Fiona Apple week, regardless of whether it achieved a modicum of popular success. It’s not as though more people will know it than know “Across the Universe” after all 😉

  3. Clay says:

    To answer your first question, I’ve been doing the theme weeks Monday – Friday, but this time I figured I’d throw in a couple of cover songs to get through the weekend. And yes, I chose this one because I like the video… I love the black and white and the slo-mo chaos. And I think it’s a lovely version.

    I assume you meant ‘I Want You’ and not ‘Spooky Girlfriend’ … I would have picked that song but I’ve posted it here before.

  4. Dana says:

    I think it’s a cool video–just hope that place has good insurance:)

    And as for Paper Bag, was this really a “hit” for her? I always thought her only “hits” were Shadowboxing and Criminal off the first album.

    And, in some defense of Amy, you did feature the song, but not the video for Paper Bag.:)

  5. Clay says:

    Do not defend the indefensible! 🙂

    I would have featured the video but it’s not embeddable. That’s why I had to link off to it today. I like to keep the clips embedded on the blog if at all possible.

  6. Clay says:

    ‘Paper Bag’ wasn’t a hit, unless we define “hit” as a song Amy has heard. 🙂 It does seem to be a fan favorite, though.

    I remember thinking the Indigo Girls’ ‘Galileo’ was an obscure little song until I saw a live performance where the entire crowd sang the complete verses. When songs move even a small population that much, maybe they deserve to be called hits.

  7. Amy says:

    Okay, I had a minor (major?) lapse in memory, assuming that since I hadn’t seen that video before that you hadn’t featured the song I had raved about just a few days earlier. It’s indefensible, I agree, but I will offer a slight explanation – I had just read three Doc Jensen recaps back-to-back. Perhaps I had entered some sort of time loop?

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