Song of the Day #838: ‘Get Gone’ – Fiona Apple

Top Ten Female Vocalists – #1 – Fiona Apple

Not too much suspense about this pick. Those who know me or follow this blog regularly probably guessed Fiona Apple would occupy the top spot the minute I announced the countdown.

Indeed, if I were to combine the male and female lists, Ms. Apple would hold on to the crown.

I don’t know whether Apple is a brilliant performer or somebody who simply lives through her music, and I don’t expect the distinction matters much in the end. Whether or not the passion and pain she exudes in her singing is being lived in the moment, it certainly feels like it is.

I suspect that she is able to let down her guard more effectively than most, but at the same time, you can’t ignore the amount of technical process involved in acting and singing (two disciplines I believe are very closely aligned).

In other words, how much more impressive is a film actor’s emotionally raw performance when you consider the camera right in his face, the dozens of crew members standing around him holding boom mics and pulling focus? And the same goes for a singer, sitting in an insulated booth, wearing headphones and belting out take fifteen.

So as much as I feel privileged to hear what I believe are Apple’s rawest emotions through my speakers, I won’t label her as simply a messed-up girl with a beautiful voice. She is a gifted performer who works hard to transform her heartache into art.

One thing I’ve always loved about Apple’s second (and best) album, When the Pawn…, is that every song has at least one moment where she does something truly extraordinarily vocally. It might be a note she hits, it might be a crescendo of emotion, it’s always some beautiful touch that pulls me deeper into the song.

Perhaps the best example is the song ‘I Know,’ which I featured as my 13th Song of the Day. That song has at least a half dozen such moments, and they’re the primary reason it might just be my favorite song by anybody, ever.

‘Get Gone’ is another track from the same album, the song the immediately precedes ‘I Know.’ It’s another beauty, starting off delicately with just a quiet piano and brushed drums before the full orchestration kicks in at the chorus.

The vocal turn that hits me hardest in this song is in the final verse: “I’ll idealize, then realize that it’s no sacrifice, because the price is paid and there’s nothing left to grieve.” There is such resignation in her voice on those lines, but you can hear the shift from sadness to anger as she follows up with “Fuckin’ go…” and then her angriest and most passionate delivery of the chorus, highlighted by the defiant “Sing, sing, sing again.”

If I had to sum of Apple’s appeal to me, both as a singer and an artist, in one line (too late!) I’d say that every one of her songs takes me on a journey. Her voice is the ultimate tour guide.

How many times do I have to say
To get away, get gone
Flip your shit past another lass’
Humble dwelling

You got your game, made your shot
And you got away
With a lot, but I’m not turned-on
So put away that meat you’re selling

‘Cause I do know what’s good for me
And I’ve done what I could for you
But you’re not benefiting, and yet I’m sitting
Singing again, sing, sing again

How can I deal with this, if he won’t get with this
Am I gonna heal from this, he won’t admit to it
Nothing to figure out, I got to get him out
It’s time the truth was out that he don’t give a shit about me

‘Cause I do know what’s good for me
And I’ve done what I could for you
But you’re not benefiting, and yet I’m sitting
Singing again, sing, sing again

How can I deal with this, if he won’t get with this
Am I gonna heal from this, he won’t admit to it
Nothing to figure out, I got to get him out
It’s time the truth was out that he don’t give a shit about me

How many times can it escalate
‘Till it elevates to a place I can’t breathe?
And I must decide, if you must deride
That I’m much obliged to up and go

I’ll idealize, then realize
That it’s no sacrifice, because the price is paid
And there’s nothing left to grieve
Fuckin’ go

‘Cause 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, sing, sing, sing again

How can I deal with this, if he won’t get with this
Am I gonna heal from this, he won’t admit to it
Nothing to figure out, I got to get him out
It’s time the truth was out that he don’t give a shit about me

How can I deal with this, if he won’t get with this
Am I gonna heal from this, he won’t admit to it
Nothing to figure out, I got to get him out
It’s time the truth was out that he don’t give a shit about me

35 thoughts on “Song of the Day #838: ‘Get Gone’ – Fiona Apple

  1. Amy says:

    Yes, this is an expected choice, which is a good thing. If I’d failed to guess your #1 male and female singers after reading this blog for 838 days (and knowing you for far more than that), I would have been more than a bit unsettled. Of course, I find it amusing that the #1 female singer is worlds away from the #1 male singer – and odd that none of those few female musicians we were equally exposed to as children made (or even seemed to be in consideration for) your list.

    While I knew, of course, that you would never put Barbra on this list, I thought Carole King or Carly Simon might make an appearance after seeing Francis sitting at the top of your first list. At least two of those three would be on my list, and all are serious contenders.

    As for Fiona, I wonder if your admiration for her willingness and ability to convey unabashed emotion – passion, anger, love, hatred – might be in part due to a reticence on your own behalf to do so. I think sometimes we have a tendency to value in others those traits we find most awe-inspiring or difficult to comprehend. As a walking volcano of emotion, I don’t find as much value in the FACT that Fiona Apple expresses all that emotion, though I certainly admire her technical proficiency in doing so.

    I don’t know… just throwing out another potential theory. Is that chemistry an attempt to find the yin to our yang? Maybe?

    A wonderful voice and performer to close out your series. I’ve enjoyed it.

  2. Clay says:

    Yes, I think you’re on to something there… I’ve wondered that myself.

  3. pegclifton says:

    I guess I should have known that this was your choice, but I sort of thought you might go with another country music singer I never heard of :), this is a great choice and the one I should have figured out. I certainly would have Carly Simon on my list too Amy. As I’ve mentioned before, I mostly prefer male singers so it would be hard to come up with a top 10 for female singers. I would probably have Maria Callas and Peggy Lee on the list along with Carly and Carole King and Barbra; but then I would be at a loss. Thanks for the music and the opportunity to learn about artists I didn’t know. It’s been fun!

  4. Dana says:

    Yes, no surprise here, but also a great pick. For me personally, however, I have to be in the right mood to hear Fiona because sometimes the intensity can be a bit off putting. In that sense, she is less a “warm blanket” than a cold splash of water to the face. Of course, when you need/want that splash of water, there are few better to listen to.

    Okay, so I will now reveal my top ten femaie vocalists, in no particular order:

    Aretha Franklin
    Anita Baker
    Dionne Francis
    Desiree
    Diana Ross
    Tracy Chapman
    Macy Gray
    Tina Turner
    Lena Horne
    Beyonce

  5. Clay says:

    You forgot Rosa Parks. 🙂

  6. Dana says:

    I never cared for Rosa’s voice. Too black for my taste:)

  7. Amy says:

    My list (in no particular order):

    Barbra Streisand
    Natalie Merchant
    Carly Simon
    Diana Ross
    Mary Chapin Carpenter
    Carole King
    Tracy Chapman
    Melinda Doolittle
    Cyndi Lauper
    Bonnie Raitt

  8. Dana says:

    Okay, my real list

    Natalie Merchant — for many of the reasons previously discussed. She may just be the top person on this list.

    Carly Simon — Nobody Does it better. Just listen to “Let the River Run” and tell me her voice isn’t THE instrument that makes that song work.

    Mary Chapin Carpenter — for the reason’s Amy mentioned. Just a wonderful, passionate, sexy, voice.

    Carole King — as with artists like Van Morrisen, this pick is admittedly based on one great album, Tapestry, but hearing her in concert in DC, it reaffirmed that she belongs on this list.

    Tracy Chapman — I dare anybody to sing “Fast Car,” or “Revolution” and make it sound 1/10th as good as the way she delivers. In concert, she did some covers that made me realize that imprinting her voice on almost anything (arguably within her alto range) makes it unique and wonderful.

    Cyndi Lauper — not only is the voice completely unique, it is also technically amazing–not an easy combination.

    Bonnie Raitt — there is no other blues voice I want to hear. Period.

    Aretha Franklin — How could I not put her on the list after the infamous “black singer” debate?:) But, all joking aside, she is the female counterpart to Ray Charles–any song she has ever sung was made better by her singing it.

    Annie Lennox — from the moment I heard her voice, i was literally hypnotized. And even when I hear her all these years later, I still find her voice enchanting.

    k.d. lang — she may be the weak link on this list, to be jettisoned if I think of someone else. Still, I do find her voice to be the driving force behind what makes her music so special, at least on the one album that I (and everyone) owns.

  9. Amy says:

    I tried to post a few videos as “support” earlier, but had no luck. So I’m giving it another try…

    Bonnie:

    Barbra:

    Tracy:

    Cyndi:

    (of course, I had to pick this one!)

    Melinda:

    (could have picked several, but her audition shows EVERYTHING I love about her)

  10. Clay says:

    Interesting that your lists have seven names in common. I wonder if that’s because you share a CD collection or if your tastes have aligned over time.

    I considered a few of the names on your lists… Aretha Franklin, Annie Lennox, k.d. lang. I have to admit that Carly Simon completely slipped my mind and might have found a spot on my list if I’d considered her.

  11. pegclifton says:

    I agree with Lennox, Raitt, and even Lang, but I draw the line at Aretha Franklin, just can’t take it.

  12. Dana says:

    I think Amy and I had a tremendous amount of musical overlap before we ever start#e dating or otherwise “merged” our CD collections, and we continue to have common musical tastes, with only a few exceptions.

    And not to harp on the this year’s model syndrome (though that is exactly what I am doing:)), but, like Amy, I find it interesting that, at least with female singers, you do not list a single artist to whom you were listening in say the first 20 years of your life. Carly Simon and Carol King stand out as the most obvious omissions. Of course, I recall us teasing you in college as to how skewed your CD collection was toward male artists. You have obviously made up much ground since then, but your early bias against women artists might explain why the list features as many relatively new discoveries as it does.

  13. Clay says:

    I said that Carly Simon was an oversight. I don’t respond to Carole King’s voice enough for it to make my list. I like her voice well enough, but I think she’s a better writer than singer.

    I think the industry in general is skewed toward male artists, particularly in the first 30+ years of the rock era.

  14. Dana says:

    I disagree that the industry was so skewed. You just, apparently, don’t like (or like well enough) some of the classic female voices of the past as much as you do the men. So Sinatra and Elvis make it while Streisand, Aretha, Ross, Fitzgerald, Turner, etc. don’t.

    And I would also note that Dusty is an example of someone that predates you, but that you only more recently discovered.

    As for the Simon omission, again, my point is that the oversight was because you tend to look first to your newer obsessions, which is why, as you said, this whole contest started based on your interest in Lambert.

    Out of curiosity, if Simon goes in your top 10, who gets punted?

  15. Clay says:

    You’re right, I don’t like the voices of Streisand, Ross or Turner. Aretha I like but not enough to crack my list. Ella Fitzgerald is a little out of the time span I’ve been looking at one these lists. Remember, I was breaking the rules when I picked Frank Sinatra.

    I agree that the more top of mind artists are the ones I listen to the most often. I probably haven’t listened to a Carly Simon album in years.

    If I added Simon, presumably I’d cut #10 (Lily Allen).

  16. pegclifton says:

    I wanted to add that Ella Fitzgerald is probably the best female singer ever, and I would have her on my list no matter what time span it is , and she’s black 😉

  17. Amy says:

    Hold on just one second…

    you don’t like Barbra Streisand’s voice?! You DO NOT LIKE it?!

    I can understand that she, herself, is too affected for your taste, that you find the songs she sings not to be to your liking, that you like her voice, but, like several others we have discussed, she just didn’t make the cut, but… that you don’t like her voice?!

    How is that possible? What does that even mean? That’s just as ludicrous as Dana comparing, unfavorably Harry Connick to Frank Sinatra. There are certain facts one ought to be able to take as a given, and that Barbra Streisand has a phenomenal voice is one of them.

    The fact that I can so easily find a couple of examples of that voice in its fine, fine form – LIVE performances of songs she first recorded decades before in some cases, I might add, just puts the exclamation point at the end of my point.

    I have only one conclusion. Your dislike of Streisand must be some sort of reaction to how much I have always loved her. Hmm…. confess!!!! Is this a sibling thing?!

  18. pegclifton says:

    I don’t think it’s a sibling thing because my sister always loved Streisand and you know that I’m a huge fan of hers too (Barbra that is) 🙂

  19. Clay says:

    I don’t dispute that she has a strong voice, and a technically excellent one, but the actual sound of her voice isn’t pleasant to my ear. I find it nasally and whiny. I have enjoyed some performances of hers over the years, mostly from the Broadway album, but they are few and far between.

    And I don’t believe it’s a sibling thing. I discovered R.E.M. through you as well, after all.

  20. Dana says:

    Okay, Clay, I have to step in here. I can understand not liking the types of songs Streisand sings or not liking her style of singing when it becomes a bit too diva-ish. But “nasally and whiny” are just about the last adjectives to be used to describe her voice. Perhaps you are confusing nasally and whiny for theatrical, but there are few singers who sing less from their nose and with less whine than Streisand.

  21. Clay says:

    I suppose aren’t technically the right words to describe what I’m hearing (if indeed there are official meanings of “nasally” and “whiny”) but they’re the best words I can think of to explain what I find unpleasant in her voice.

    I don’t think “theatrical” is appropriate because I enjoy the theatrical singing of others (Idina Menzel and Lea Michele as a couple of recent examples).

  22. dana says:

    To quote you in reference to my suggestion of liking Connick more than Sinatra, Comparing Lea Michelle to Streisand is like comparing Josh Duhamel to Brando. Michelle, like Connick, would proudly admit that she isn’t fit to polish Streisand’s shoes.

  23. Clay says:

    Well, I’m not putting Lea Michele on my top ten list. Just citing her and Menzel as examples of “theatrical” voices I like, addressing your suggestion that its Streisand’s theatricality that rubs me the wrong way.

    If I recall, it wasn’t Sinatra’s voice that you dismissed, but the schmaltzy quality of some of his work. In my case, it’s her actual voice that doesn’t do it for me.

  24. Dana says:

    Actually, my point with Sinatra was that, when he did schmaltzy songs, his voice made them more not less schmaltzy, so I was, in fact, talking about his voice.

    I don’t see how you could like Lea Michelle’s voice and not like Streisand’s as the voices have a fairly similar quality and tone. I suspect what you like about Michelle has less to do with her vocal chords and more with other parts of her:) And perhaps, conversely, you don’t finally other attributes of Streisand to be enhancing factors.

  25. Dana says:

    Oh, and also, of course, Lea Michelle is this year’s model.:) But she is modeling herself after someone like Streisand,. just as, arguably, Connick modeled his singing quality after Sinatra.

  26. Clay says:

    Do you have any idea how infuriating it is when you refuse to accept my taste as just that – my taste – and instead insist on psychoanalyzing me? Last week you were calling me a racist, and now I’m a slave to my hormones?

    When you said you preferred Harry Connick Jr. to Sinatra, I thought you were crazy and said so. I didn’t, however, suggest that you’re prejudiced against Italians or that you think Connick has a nice ass.

    I accept that you prefer one to the other, and while I disagree with you, I’m not going to suggest that your preference is invalid.

    Please tell me you think I’m spectacularly wrong for not liking Barbra Streisand. I get that. Don’t tell me you think I really would like her if she looked like Beyonce. That’s insulting.

  27. Clay says:

    Incidentally, Barbra Streisand didn’t make your list either… was the sweet bod of Tracy Champan just too much to resist? 🙂

  28. Dana says:

    Oh, settle down! And if you haven’t received the memo yet, let me again make it clear that, no, I don’t accept ending the discussion at “that’s just my taste.” I was of course, being a bit silly in suggesting that your reason for liking Lea Michelle was because she was new or sexy (to you), but rather than just knocking the theories down, I welcome you giving any alternate explanation as to why you would like her voice, but dislike Streisand’s.

    My point was that both voices are very similar (and while I like both of them, you are correct that neither were in my top 10). I think most musical scholars and critics would agree that both have similar voices, just as Connick and Sinatra have similar voices. I understand the argument, made so vociferously by you, Amy, Peg and Doug that Connick is a lesser knock off (voice-wise) of Sinatra, but I certainly didn’t hear any of you suggesting that they disliked Connick’s voice, while liking Sinatra’s. And to do so would be, I think, musically incongruous given the similarities of their vocal styles. Similarly, to like Lea Michelle’s voice (even if not up to top 10 standards), yet dislike Streisand’s voice simply makes no rational sense.

    And so, yes, as we often do on this blog, we search for reasons—whether it be that your older sister force fed you Streisand until you rebelled, that you tend not to like theatrical singers, or that you are more willing to accept such singers if they are young, attractive and on a hip new TV show:)

    You are welcome to posit your own theories or not, but saying that Streisand’s voice is nasally and whiny when she is historically regarded as having one of the purest voices of the 20th century won’t cut the mustard. And saying you like a voice like Lea Michelle’s only adds to the confusion of your dislike of Streisand.

  29. Amy says:

    What he said 😉

    I do think we all gave Dana a hard enough time about suggesting that Connick ought to take a spot earned by Sinatra to appreciate his incredulity that you would now suggest a preference for Michele over Streisand.

    And, yes, of course, your taste is your taste, but it would be pretty boring if we just left it at that. Wouldn’t be much of a discussion, then, would it?

  30. Clay says:

    Discussion is great, but attributing my musical preferences to horniness or racism doesn’t make for a good discussion (in my opinion). It does make for a lot of comments, though. 🙂

    If you think I’m crazy for not liking Barbra Streisand’s voice, I’d love to hear why. I’d love to hear why you all think she’s the bee’s knees. I don’t want to hear that I’m mistaken when I say I find her voice annoying. I’m not! Because I do!

    I could pick Streisand’s voice out of a lineup of 20 female voices, no problem. I doubt I could do the same with Lea Michele’s. To say they have similar voices ignores the fact that Streisand has one of the most distinctive voices in the business… and, to my ear, an often unpleasant one.

    When I hear Lea Michele or Idina Menzel, on the other hand, I don’t find it unpleasant. I generally like what I hear quite a bit. Whether you think that makes “rational sense” or not is irrelevant.

    And I don’t find Connick and Sinatra’s voices similar at all, even if they might share a range or timber or whatever technical music term you want to use.

  31. Amy says:

    While I certainly think we can put this thread to rest, I would like to point out that there is a huge gulf of a difference between not selecting an artist because of her race or religion and not selecting her because she’s not physically appealing to you.

    When it comes to “favorites” – actors or musical performers – there is undoubtedly that “it” factor (cue Jon Stewart!) that also causes us to love our favorite performers. The other day, on another thread, and again early on in this thread, we were discussing the “chemistry” involved. Why is it so awful to suggest physical attraction might be part of that chemistry? It’s not possible that your appreciation of Lea Michele’s non-musical qualities might make you more willing to have an open mind when you listen to her voice? Come one! Of course, it is.

    Similarly, and I completely “get” this (cue Stewart again!), if someone like Barbra Streisand is off putting (because of her attitude more than her appearance), you’re more likely to listen with some disdain or dislike already in place. Therefore, one is not only listening with his ears but also his whole arsenal of likes and dislikes intact.

    After all, when I first heard (or, should I say, saw) videos by Tom Petty and David Bowie, I found both to be so incredibly freaky that I’d quickly change the channel. Bowie has a wondeful voice, but he’s not on my top 10 list. Petty, on the other hand, I stuck with, later saw in concert, where he performed touching versions of some songs I’d grown to love, so he did make it. Still, he had a much longer road to walk than, say, George Michael.

    I would imagine that you never recoiled at the majority of your favorite female singers, and I’m pretty sure that’s all that Dana was suggesting. The fact that Tift Merritt can be found on your “girlfriends” list on some other site might lend credence to his theory 😉

    So stop being so defensive ;P Like Streisand or don’t. But you really ought to give Bonnie Raitt another listen. Once you get past the skunk streak in her hair, you really will appreciate what a talent she is! 🙂

  32. Clay says:

    Sorry, but I disagree. The music industry is piled high with very attractive women who have absolutely no musical appeal. And I feel I have to come to Streisand’s defense here a little bit.. she’s not Linda Hunt! I remember being quite stirred by the album cover of The Main Event soundtrack, with her in those boxing shorts. 🙂

  33. pegclifton says:

    So then what made all those young girls scream and faint over a skinny, not so attractive, little Italian guy a million years ago?? I was screaming over Elvis as a teen because he was sexy and handsome (I thought) and I loved his music. It must be some thing that attracts us besides looks and sound, that certain appeal that just works. Would be nice to bottle that wouldn’t it?

  34. pegclifton says:

    Also, while I’m a huge Streisand fan, I have to come to Clay’s defense and say that I’ve heard others (my brother for example) who do not like her voice. I always disagreed, but it was his opinion, he found it annoying, go figure.

  35. pegclifton says:

    I’m still trying to make up for the star war toys 🙂

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