A Spotify playlist. Requirements: no major singles, only tracks I still love, nothing that I couldn’t listen to all the way through without giggling. (Almost cut the Jewel track.) All tracks from the bizarre late ’90s soft-rock/power-pop window that’s probably best described as “modern rock” but really made its home on the VH1 top 10 countdown. I used to watch it every day in summer 1998 and it changed my life forever.
Missing: Hootie and the Blowfish (not really on Spotify), Goo Goo Dolls (all the good songs were singles), Matchbox Twenty (they suck), etc.
Mostly, I made this for you to reconsider your feelings about Counting Crows and Dave Matthews Band.
Enjoy. Please share.
Notes: Her first album is a fine effort though it’s best viewed as the warm-up for When The Pawn, a partnership with Jon Brion that yielded perhaps the best album of 1999 and a total classic regardless. Her third, Extraordinary Machine, is her Spider-Man 3 (a tragically flawed but lovable maybe-classic): after the unfinished Brion sessions were leaked/shelved, producer Mike Elizondo helped her with a new version that boasts both less inspired arrangements and a painful mastering job. Plenty of great songwriting, though, especially the arresting “Not About Love.”
Apple has a considerable roster of covers, several of which are available on Spotify. She’s known for doing whole sets of jazz standards with Brion and the venue regulars at Largo — you can find some on YouTube and elsewhere if you look. She’s known for being dramatic and ferociously (but never pretentiously) poetic (she did say “This world is bullshit” on MTV, after all, not to mention those album titles), but she also has a sense of humor — which you’ll hear in her take on “Frosty the Snowman.”
My favorite Apple recording is her version of “Across the Universe,” done for the Pleasantville soundtrack. The Brion production is as soft and beautiful as Cuccinelli cashmere.