As with most of these challenges, I can interpret this one in different ways. Aside from the romantic reading, I could go with a song that breaks my heart because it has sad associations. I’m tempted to pick John Lennon’s ‘Imagine,’ which has come up a few times already, because hearing it while thinking about John Lennon’s fate is indeed heartbreaking.
But it appears I have caught up and, as Bill O’Reilly so memorably put it, WE’LL DO IT LIVE!
Today’s randomly selected track is a slow-burner from Fiona Apple’s third album, Extraordinary Machine. I’ve run out of ways to praise Apple’s musical, lyrical and vocal chops, so I’ll just let the song speak for itself.
It’s been seven years since this album was released and Apple’s fans are still waiting on new material. This woman certainly can’t be accused of flooding the marketplace. According to a recent tweet by Epic Records CEO L.A. Reid, a new Fiona Apple album is due sometime this year. But I’ll believe that when I see it.
Best Songwriters – #7 – Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple is by far the least prolific songwriter on this list, having released only three albums over the past 15 years, and no one-offs, EPs, original B-sides or any of that. She has written (or at least released) a grand total of 32 songs.
Yet she finds herself at #7 on my list of favorite songwriters, a testament to the greatness of those 32 songs. If only she’d muster up the will to get back in the studio, she might climb into the top five.
Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that Apple earned her spot on this list thanks to the 22 songs on her last two albums, When the Pawn… and Extraordinary Machine. While I am a fan of her debut, Tidal, it is a less confident and mature record than its successors — not surprising, considering she was 18 when it was released.
In early 2005, leaked versions of Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine began showing up on the Web. These songs were recorded in 2003 and produced by Jon Brion, who had produced Apple’s previous album. However, the new album had no release date and the rumor was that the studio had shelved the disc fearing the songs weren’t commercial enough.
That was a very frustrating and exciting time to be a Fiona Apple fan. There was much outrage over her supposed treatment by her label, complicated by the complete silence from the artist herself. And then the songs began to trickle out, so that every day for a few weeks a trip around the Web might result in a new uncovered gem. Eventually, by hitting the right sites, fans were able to piece together their own version of Extraordinary Machine, adhering to a song sequence that had also been leaked (by whom remains unclear to this day).
The song is Fiona Apple’s ‘Red Red Red,’ which appeared on her third album, 2005’s Extraordinary Machine. It’s hard to believe the album came out five years ago already. That means we’re approaching the 6-year delay between her sophomore album When the Pawn… and this one. Only now there’s no new album on the horizon, no promise of new material. I really wish she’d record more often.
The leaked version of Extraordinary Machine caused a fan outcry. People were outraged that such a fine piece of work was being denied them by a label with no ear for art. Fans picketed the studio, sent hundreds of apples in protest and started a campaign called ‘Free Fiona.’
Then Apple broke her silence. She thanked her fans for the emotional response but said shelving the album wasn’t the studio’s call, it was hers. She simply didn’t feel like the Brion-produced tracks made up the album she wanted to release. Instead she was rerecording the album with producer Mike Elizondo and it would be out later that year.