As you might expect, after being awarded a rare 10 by Pitchfork for her excellent 2020 album Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple also claimed the #1 spot in their best albums of 2020 list. To go along with the list, they published a new in-depth interview with Fiona, where she talks about Tumblr, her dogs, meditation, making Fetch the Bolt Cutters, and more. Among the things she touches on is her appearance on Bob Dylan's 2020 album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, where she plays piano on "Murder Most Foul." Asked by Pitchfork how that came about, Fiona says:
So I’m sitting here with Zelda in February, really relaxed, and we’re about to have dinner, and I look down at my phone and see [longtime collaborator] Blake Mills texting me. I hadn’t heard from Blake in months. And he’s like, "So I’m working on something, I can’t tell anybody about it, but we want you to come in and do something." And I was like, "Um, I can’t I’m busy." And he was like, "Can I call you?" So he called me and he goes, "OK, it’s Bob Dylan. Bob is asking if you will come here and record." And I went: "When?" And he went: "Now." And I said "FUCK" so loud that I could hear people on the other end of the phone laughing.
I was like, "I’m not trying to put myself down here, Blake, but you and I both know that I’m very underqualified for this job. There’s no point." And he’s like, "He just wants you to come in to be you." So I went in the next day. I’m only on "Murder Most Foul."
I couldn’t believe it. I had met him many years ago, but I don’t really know why I’m on the record. I was there a total of like seven hours. I told Bob I was really insecure about it, and he was really encouraging and nice. He was just like, "You’re not here to be perfect, you’re here to be you." To have Bob Dylan say that before my record came out was a huge deal for me. And I mean, this was like the one person I could have met who’s alive right now where it actually would have meant something to me as a kid.
Asked what Bob's music means to her, Fiona replied, "When my stepfather was moving into our apartment—I was probably 10—we cleaned out his apartment to bring his stuff over. That was the day that I discovered his pot. And that was also the day that I discovered his records. One of the records I discovered was Bob Dylan’s Desire, and that’s my favorite. If I were to put that record on now, I would feel too many emotions. I would feel too alive. I’d be afraid to listen to it. That happens to me with music a lot. That’s probably why I don’t listen to a lot of music. Because when it’s really good, it’s like I feel it too much."
"I loved Desire so much—I mean, Christ, it was probably even my first small education into racial injustice because of the song 'Hurricane,'" she continued. "And on the song 'Isis,' he sort of gave me my sexual awakening a little bit. When he goes, 'She said, 'You look different,' I said, 'Well, I guess'/[...] She said, ‘You going to stay?’ I said, ‘If you want me to, yes’'—when he says 'Well, I guess,' I was like: ooooh."
"When I would fake being sick and stay home from school," Fiona continued, "which was most of the time, as soon as everybody would leave, I’d put on my roller skates and skate around the house. My little ritual was putting on 'Like a Rolling Stone' and roller skating around the dining room table 88 times for the number of keys on the piano. When I met Bob Dylan at the Grammys, twentysomething years ago, I told him about the roller skating thing."