Fiona Apple is a quirky alternative pop singer songwriter, greatly under-appreciated despite critical acclaim and Grammy nominations.
She is a brilliant lyricist and emotive performer. I first started listening to her in 2002 with 2nd album “Extraordinary Machine”.
Fiona Apple was born in 1977 Fiona Apple McAfee-Maggart in New York City to singer Diane McAfee and actor Brandon Maggart, who met when both were cast in the Broadway musical Applause. Her father is from Tennessee, and through him, Apple has Melungeon ancestry.
Apple was classically trained on piano as a child, and began composing her own pieces by the age of eight. 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. There is definitely a Jazz influence to be heard in her later recorded compositions. At age 12, Apple was raped outside the apartment she shared with her mother, step-father and sister in Harlem. She subsequently developed an eating disorder, purposely slimming her developing body, which she saw as "bait" for potential predators. She suffered panic attacks while walking home from school, which led to her relocating to Los Angeles to live with her father for one year. Many of her songs had speculation around them siting that her ordeal had influenced her writing, however Fiona said she did not write songs about the trauma surrounding her rape as there was nothing poetic about it.
Her first song was for a young school friend, but she wasn't introduced to the music industry until 1994, when she gave a demo tape to a friend who was the babysitter for a music publicist who took it to Sony.
Her second album was in the Guiness Book of World Records for a while as having the longest title – “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” which is a poem she wrote after reading letters that appeared in Spin regarding an article that had cast her in a negative light in an earlier issue.
During a career hiatus, where she contemplated retiring, Fiona recorded with Johnny Cash on a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water" that ended up on his album American IV: The Man Comes Around and was nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best Country Collaboration with Vocals". She also collaborated with Cash on Cat Stevens's "Father and Son", which was included in his 2003 collection Unearthed.
4th album stretched the title wording again "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do"
Her 5th album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” was released earlier this year, and she features as backing vocals on Bob Dylan's 39th album Rough and Rowdy Ways.