New Fiona Apple: The no-longer Sullen Girl covers a jazz classic

No one can blame Fiona Apple for taking quite a bit of time off after 2005’s Extraordinary Machine — an album that endured several release-date changes, two producers and an entire re-recording. So maybe absence made my heart grow fonder, but I am really digging her new cover of "Why Try to Change Me Now." The song, a jazzy standard from famed composer/pianist Cy Coleman, is soft, gorgeous and, above all, restrained. The lyrics seem curiously relevant to Apple’s personality too, as she croons about living in her own strange world and not being conventional. (That’s why we love you, Fiona: because you’re not.) The song is included in a Coleman tribute EP, Then Was Then, And Now Is Now, alongside covers from Patty Griffin and Nikka Costa, among others:

Fiona is no stranger to covers. For my money, her take on The Beatles’ "Across the Universe" is not only better than Rufus Wainwright’s, but better than the original itself.Yes. I went there — Beatles fans, ready your pitchforks! (But listen toher version below before hitting the comment board.) Both songs gotme thinking: what are the best covers by a modern-day chanteuse? Somethat immediately came to mind: Norah Jones’ "Cold Cold Heart", Cat Power’s "Sea of Love", Madeleine Peyroux’s "Between the Bars." Do you agree, readers?

Apple’s version of "Across the Universe"

More on Fiona Apple:
The real story behind Fiona Apple’s ‘Machine’
Fiona Apple on why her new CD took six years
Talking with Sheryl Crow and Fiona Apple

Comments (24 total) Add your comment
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  • Kip

    Agreed. Now when can we get a new album from this girl? I mean, it’s like an eclipse with this one. It comes along only so often.

  • Nick

    God, I’ve missed her. Thanks, Jeremy!

  • Lauren

    Thanks for posting this! I adore Fiona (she’s quite possibly my favorite musician) and hadn’t heard about this! I also have to agree about the “Across the Universe” – she did such an amazing job with that song.

  • Meli Parker

    As a Beatles fanatic…That cover of Across the Universe at the end of Pleasantville is the reason I became a Beatles fan in the first place. And Rufus’ is good, just not as good as hers.

  • Maloney

    thank you, that was a beautiful “why try to change me now”

  • Fatima

    The fact she’s only had 3 albums in over a decade is nothing short of depressing

  • milo

    Jeremy you have made my day! I never knew this cover existed! Fiona is simply amazing and the video is great, and as a huge, HUGE Rufus fan I have to agree that her version is better.
    P.S. The Beattles are slightly overrated anyway.

  • DW

    Fiona is absolutely amazing. Any word on a new album?

  • Tim

    I can’t believe anybody still cares about this grumpy Lilith Fair footnote. She’s alays been overrated. The only cover of ‘Across the Universe’ that comes close to Rufus’ version is David Bowie’s rendition, coming a close second.

    • P.J. Smarmy

      Tim, you’re entitled to your opinion. On the other hand, you’re an a@!$hole.

  • Cory

    I have to say, I like both covers better than the original, but Fiona’s is best. I love her, and I can’t wait until she has something new out.

  • tori

    I totally agree about Fiona’s version of Across the Universe being better than the original – I think I heard hers first actually & so I was excited to hear the Beatles’ version, but I was disappointed. hers is so much more magical. anyhoo I love Fiona in general & I really hope she continues to tour & release albums :O

  • Mike

    Though she intially had an air Lilith Fair/Tori Amos wannabe vib, she’s since outgrown those cheap criticisms. “Whe the Pawn Hits…” was a brilliant departure from wht anyone was doing in pop music, and “Extraordinary Machine” is oneo the best albums of the decade. Hopefully, we’ll get another one from her sooner rather than later.

  • Matthew M. F. Miller

    I’d rather wait 6 years for another great Fiona Apple album than two years for something rushed and less visionary. Extraordinary Machine and When the Pawn … were both albums of great craft and creativity, and as much as I’d love to hear new stuff today, I’m content waiting. Because when Fiona delivers, she delivers big. And she will deliver again, on her own time.

  • Marie

    I love all her music and just became obsessed with her version of Sally’s Song on The Night Before Christmas soundtrack too.

  • Stuart Ian Burns

    One of my favourite Fiona Apple moments is on the extras for the film Magnolia in which then boyf Paul Thomas Anderson is trying to show how he can’t edit the film into any kind of watchable shape and she play acts as the film, persistently trying to get the better of him despite his persistent pushing. I think they end up knocking each other over.
    @Fatima But I’d much rather have these jewels than what Sheryl Crow’s been offering us lately. Everything since C’mon C’mon has been a disaster.

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