Since releasing her debut, ‘Tidal,’ in 1996, Fiona Apple has amassed a devoted cult following. And yet her career has been shrouded in mystery, what with her reclusive personality, increasingly lengthy hiatuses between albums and frequent concert cancellations. When she does take the stage, Apple is prone to meltdowns, like her recent blowup at a Tokyo fashion show. While all of this adds to the songstress’ allure, she wouldn't be as popular were it not for her four remarkable albums. Apple has long been praised for her sultry, jazz-tinged vocals; terrific piano skills; and verbose, confessional lyrics. Her finest lines range from sharp and witty to simply heartbreaking, and in honor of her stellar wordplay, we've created this list of the 10 Best Fiona Apple lyrics.
“Everything good I deem too good to be true / Everything else is just a bore.”
Fans weren't sure Fiona Apple’s third album, ‘Extraordinary Machine,’ would ever see the light of the day. The singer contemplated retiring following her 1999 sophomore effort, ‘When the Pawn…’ and only decided to head back to the studio after some convincing from her good friend and composer Jon Brion. Even then, the album encountered numerous delays and wasn’t released until 2005. Luckily, her music has consistently proved worth the wait, and ‘Machine’’s third track offers up this line, which pretty much sums up Apple’s entire catalog in one breath.
“But the last one I had who was getting my hopes up / I might’ve been a little fast to dismiss / I think he let me down when he didn’t disappoint me / He didn’t always guess right, but he usually got my gist.”
The majority of Apple’s songs capture her utter vitriol regarding failed relationships. While the rest of ‘Get Him Back’ vividly describes the singer’s plot for revenge, this line finds Apple acknowledging that her glass-half-empty attitude has made her unable to recognize a good thing when she sees it.
“My scars were reflecting the mist in your headlights / I looked like a neon zebra shaking rain off her stripes / And the rivulets had you riveted to the places that I wanted you to kiss me when we find some time alone.”
Most of Apple's songs hinge on less-than-pleasant, albeit eloquently expressed, sentiments, but ‘Anything We Want’ is a rare moment where the singer writes about the promise of love rather than its cruelty. Leave it to her to come up with the most unusual imagery -- "neon-colored zebra" -- to describe those feelings.
“Flip your shit past another lass’ humble dwelling.”
Apple’s lyrics tend to be morbid, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a sense of humor. On ‘Get Gone,’ she meditates on common subject matter, but as she tells her partner to hit the road, she employs her sharp wit without losing her edge. (Seriously, we wouldn’t want to get on her bad side.)
'Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)’
“So why did I kiss him so hard late last Friday night / And keep letting him change all my plans? / I’m either so sick in the head, I need to be bled dry to quit / Or I just really used to love him / I sure hope that’s it.”
In ‘Tymps,’ Apple communicates with ease a feeling many can relate to: staying with -- or perhaps changing for -- someone even though we know better. True to form, Apple is long-winded and wordy one minute and yet just as quick to conclude her thoughts in stark matter-of-fact language.
“Seek me out / Look at, look at, look at, look at me / I’m all the fishes in the sea / Wake me up / Give me, give me, give me, give me what you got / In your mind in the middle of the night.”
Apple’s latest album finds the singer practically pleading to feel everything, and on ‘Daredevil,’ she wants to know everything going on in her partner’s head, too. It's a whole lot of feeling for this slight songstress to carry around, and that may be why her vocals often seem to erupt with desperation and conviction.
“I’ve been a bad, bad girl / I’ve been careless with a delicate man / And it’s a sad, sad world when a girl will break a boy just because she can.”
One of her best-known songs, ‘Criminal' arrived with a much-talked-about video, but it also features some of her best lyrics. Whereas Apple often portrays herself as the wronged party, she does the opposite with this opening salvo, seductively crooning about the guilt she feels after betraying her lover.
“But you were such a super guy ‘til the second you get a whiff of me.”
Apple employs some clever wordplay in ‘Werewolf’ to describe two people who are just no good for each other. Rather than draw her usual lines between the guilty and the innocent, she deems parties responsible, singing, “I could liken you to a werewolf, the way you left me for dead / But I admit that I provided a full moon.”
“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.”
With some quick and cutting lyrics, Apple dissects a broken romance and expresses the pain of losing her partner. Apple grapples with her lingering feelings, but in the chorus, she seemingly writes off love once and for all: “Hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love.”
“If what I am is what I am, ‘cause I does what I does / Then, brother, get back, ‘cause my breast’s gonna bust open.”
After pouring over Fiona Apple’s lyrics, a couple of thing become clear: She has a lot on her mind, and it can’t be easy living in her head. She sums that up pretty neatly with these impressive lyrics from the lead single from ‘The Idler Wheel…’ Her thoughts are so consuming that Apple describes her body as breaking. Despite the mental and physical pain, she proclaims: “I just want to feel everything.”