Fiona Apple and Watkins Family Hour cover Ella Fitzgerald standard “When I Get Low, I Get High” (VIDEO).

Hear Fiona Apple’s Raucous Cover of “When I Get Low, I Get High” With Members of Nickel Creek

Hear Fiona Apple’s Raucous Cover of “When I Get Low, I Get High” With Members of Nickel Creek

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Slate's Culture Blog
July 30 2015 3:32 PM

Hear Fiona Apple’s Raucous Cover of “When I Get Low, I Get High” With Members of Nickel Creek

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Last week, jazz quintet Postmodern Jukebox released a sultry, vintage-style cover of Fiona Apple’s breakout hit “Criminal”—and it seems appropriate that around the same time, Apple herself was covering a 1930s jazz standard. Apple has been on tour with the folk group Watkins Family Hour (which includes Sara and Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek) to promote their new album, and during their set at the Newport Folk Festival, the band performed the swing-era number “When I Get Low, I Get High.” The frenetic tribute to drug use, written by silent film star and musician Marion Sunshine, was first recorded by a teenaged Ella Fitzgerald and the Chick Webb Orchestra in 1936.

Watkins Family Hour has replaced the trumpets and saxophones of the original version with fiddle, guitar, and bass, and Apple’s rough-edged voice injects menace into lines like “I’m all alone, got no one to pet me, but I’m not gonna let rocking chair get me.” And when she stumbles over the words in the second verse, Apple only doubles down on the red-hot intensity of her performance.

L.V. Anderson is a former Slate associate editor.