Waltz (Better Than Fine)

Album: Extraordinary Machine (2005)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song is a celebration of doing nothing. We often feel anxious about idle time when we're not being productive or engaging in some activity, but Fiona Apple has the rare ability to disengage for long periods of time and be perfectly fine with it.

    Apple was still a teenager when her first album, Tidal, was released in 1996. When it took off, the media attention and promotional commitments burned her out after about two years. She spent a few months recovering before releasing her next album, When The Pawn..., in 1999. This time, she restricted her schedule and kept her tour short. When it was over, she did very little for the next two years, spending a lot of time outside doing nothing. "Waltz (Better Than Fine)" was one of the few songs she wrote during this time. It's her reminder the what she's doing is not just OK, it's better than fine. Nothing is just what you should do, and nobody does it anymore.

    Many artists would get pressured by their record companies under these circumstances, but Apple's label, Sony, knew that pushing her to work would be counterproductive.
  • Apple wrote this after friends and industry types encouraged her to start writing songs and get to work. They seemed to believe there was something was wrong with her, but there wasn't - Apple was enjoying her time off. She didn't write another song for over a year, and felt no guilt about it.
  • The title doesn't appear in the lyric. It's called "Waltz" because it's in waltz time: 3/4.
  • Apple recorded this song with producer Jon Brion around 2002 after he convinced her to start work on her third album, Extraordinary Machine. Along with the title track, it is one of two songs from these sessions that made the album when it was finally released in 2005. Apple felt she didn't have enough time to form an intention for the album, so even though she liked the versions of the songs she recorded with Brion, something was off. She ended up restarting the sessions with producers Mike Elizondo and Brian Kehew, finally arriving at the finished product.
  • Not uncommon for a Fiona Apple track, there is no guitar on this song. The lead instrument is Apple's piano, but there's also a string section arranged by Patrick Warren, organ by Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, drums by famed session man Jim Keltner, and bass by Jon Brion, who produced the song.

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