Extraordinary Machine

Album: Extraordinary Machine (2005)
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Songfacts®:

  • On this track, Fiona Apple sings about how she enjoys being out of her comfort zone, but has to deal with a man who likes to stay the same. She points out that while she is often perceived as a fragile little flower, she is actually quite resilient - an "extraordinary machine."
  • The title track to Apple's third album, this was one of two songs that survived the sessions recorded with producer Jon Brion (the last track on the album, "Waltz (Better Than Fine)," is the other). Apple's second album was issued in 1999, and Extraordinary Machine was slated for release in 2003. Most of the songs didn't come together to Fiona's satisfaction, and the album was delayed until 2005 when Mike Elizondo and Brian Kehew took over as producers, completing the other nine tracks plus "Parting Gift," which was a new song Fiona wrote.

    Before the official release of the album, however, a version was leaked on the internet and shared over the peer-to-peer networks that were flourishing at the time. According to Kehew, this leaked copy was doctored by whoever put it out - it wasn't the full version she recorded with Jon Brion.
  • Apple considers this song a pep talk to herself, reminding her that she's strong when those close to her worry about her. Apple doesn't react well when those around her think there is something wrong with her. "There were times when I wasn't writing songs or going out a lot, and I seemed to be in trouble," she said in an iTunes Originals session. "What's wrong with Fiona? It may seem like I like that kind of attention, but I don't, and I don't like the feeling that people are worried about me - it makes me feel worried about myself. So I had a bunch of people who felt that I was going to hell in a handbasket, and I wanted to write a song to tell all of my friends and family to shut up, because I'm always OK."
  • The lyric is fashioned in the style of the letters Apple used to write to her parents when she was young and feeling ignored. To get her parents to listen, she would storm off into her room, write down her thoughts, then emerge with the letter and read it out loud. That way, she knew her words would carry some weight.
  • Fiona took the photo that appears on the album cover - it's a flower that was growing at her house, and on the inside cover is that same flower after it had bloomed. Her motivation for taking the cover shot herself: to avoid a photo shoot.

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