Parting Gift

Album: Extraordinary Machine (2005)
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Songfacts®:

  • Long before Taylor Swift turned her ex-boyfriends into song lyrics, Fiona Apple did it on this track, where she sends a message to all her ex-lovers. "You were always good for a rhyme," she sings, knowing she could at least count on some song material from the experience.
  • This is the only song from the Extraordinary Machine album that was not leaked onto the internet in 2005, months before it was officially issued. That's because the song was a late addition to the album.

    Extraordinary Machine was scheduled for release in 2003, but it got bogged down when the songs just didn't gel. Producing the album was Jon Brion, who did Fiona's previous album, When The Pawn... (1999). When it comes to writing songs and performing on her albums, Apple is intimately involved, but at the time she generally stayed out of the production process, trusting her crew to do the job. This worked for her first two albums, but on this one, it created a negative feedback loop where she would keep sending back the tracks for refinement, never happy with how they came out (the two exceptions: the title track and "Waltz (Better Than Fine)").

    After two years, Brion moved on and Mike Elizondo took over as producer, but they still couldn't finish the album. It finally came together when Brian Kehew, a producer who played on Fiona's previous album and was Brion's roommate, offered to start fresh on the unfinished tracks, recording them at his home studio with no record company intervention. Fiona took the deal, and after a month, they had the tracks done.

    This song was exceptional because it was a new one Fiona brought to the sessions, and was done very quickly. When Fiona came in with the song and offered to play it for the crew, Kehew instead set up microphones and had her record it, figuring they would at least get a version to work from that way. "She played it once and we recorded it and then we all said, 'That's it. The song's done. No more need for Take 2,'" Kehew said in our interview. "And it is on the record that way." (Here's Brian's full account of making Extraordinary Machine.)

Comments: 2

  • Brian from Los Angeles, CaThis song was recorded in one take, the first take we did of the song.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnJust Fiona and her piano - raw and honest song.
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