Many of Fiona Apple's early songs are postmortems of broken relationships. "I Know" is about a boyfriend who didn't last very long, but gave her a key word for a song.
This guy was in a transitional phase, with a lot of changes in his life. He told Apple she was his "crowbar," meaning she pried open a new life for him. Apple often starts a song with a single word, and that's the word that kicked off "I know." In the first line, she sings:
So be it, I'm your crowbar
If that's what I am so far
Much of the song is about how this guy is using her for his own purposes, which didn't sit well with Fiona.
Apple's producer, Jon Brion, used an orchestra on this track. Legendary session man Jim Keltner played drums, and Mike Elizondo played upright bass. Elizondo ended up producing most of the tracks on Apple's next album, Extraordinary Machine.
This smoky ballad is the last track on Fiona Apple's second album, When The Pawn..., which deals in large part with Apple's love interests. When the album was released, she was dating the director Paul Thomas Anderson, who was seven year older.
Elvis Costello covered this in 2006 when he and Apple performed at the "Elvis Costello & Friends" episode of the VH1 Decades Rock series. Apple suggested the song; even though it is very personal to her, she felt Costello could handle it, and was thrilled with his rendition. Apple sang Costello's "I Want You" on the show.