From her work in the 80’s with MTV favorite Til Tuesday through her acclaimed solo discs “Whatever” and “I’m With Stupid” in the 90s, Aimee Mann has always been at the forefront of contemporary songwriters. The close of the millennium brought her greatest success, with the simultaneous releases of Bachelor No. 2 and the soundtrack to the film Magnolia, which garnered nominations for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and three Grammys. After a decade in which her music often took a backseat to corporate mergers and contractual obligations, the message was clear: Aimee Mann is here to stay.
From “Voices Carry” to the Oscar-nominated “Save Me,” Mann has always been known for her clever, literate, and dryly witty takes on emotional sabotage and self-destruction. Though happily married to Michael Penn (with whom she has toured extensively in a double-billed “Acoustic Vaudeville”), her fascination continues with “the freaks who could never love anyone.” With a songcraft often compared with the Beatles and Badfinger, Mann frequently pairs the bleakest of poetry with soaring, infectious melodies.
Mann continued her solo career with the 2002 release of Lost in Space the second release on SuperEgo Records, the label she co-founded with manager and former Til Tuesday bandmate Michael Hausmann. The opportunity to release her own CD’s independently allowed Mann the power to soar creatively. With Lost in Space Mann produced an album of songs that, like a book of stories or a novel, work collectively to become something more than the sum of the individual parts. “There were aspects of liberation that hadn’t even occurred to me. I became more creative all-around, in terms of marketing and promoting the record as well as writing and recording.” To that end, Mann commissioned graphic-novelist Seth to create a forty-page booklet that accompanied the disc version of Lost In Space.
Lost in Space Special Edition followed in 2003, featuring a second disc containing six live recordings, as well two B-sides and two previously unreleased songs. In November 2004 Aimee released her first live album and DVD with Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse recorded at a series of July 2004 shows in Brooklyn.
In 2006 Mann released what might be considered her most daring album yet with the critically acclaimed The Forgotten Arm. In a natural progression of her literary writing, the album is a concept album that follows the story of two lovers who meet at the Virginia State Fair. The main character is a boxer who is sent off to fight in the Viet Nam war, the CD explores the themes of love, war, drugs and ultimately recovery and redemption.
The Forgotten Arm is, like so much of Aimee Mann’s music, really about the inexorable pull of co-dependency in human relationships. “The King of the Jailhouse / and the Queen of the Road,” Aimee Mann sings on one song, “think sharing the burden will lighten the load / so they pack up their troubles in an old Cadillac / that's her in the mirror, asleep in the back.”
Aimee Mann also released a Christmas album titled One More Drifter In The Snow. "I wanted to do a Christmas record that reflected the whole range of emotions that people have around Christmas." Aimee said, "I thought a lot about the feeling I had about Christmas as a kid, the almost spooky beauty and mystery that the holiday has, and wanted to do something that echoed that musically." Harkening back to the classic Christmas albums of the 40’s & 50’s the CD features several classic songs and some lesser-known but no-less-classic songs: the Jimmy Webb song "Whatever Happened to Christmas," which opens the record; "Christmastime" written by Michael Penn; the brilliant "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" from the Dr. Seuss cartoon "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," featuring Grant Lee Phillips' inspired narration; and an original song, co-written with producer Paul Bryan, "Calling On Mary."
In conjunction with the holiday inspired album Ms. Mann has also launched an annual sell-out Christmas tour, incorporating various comedic hosts and fellow musicians who vary from town to town. This year’s tour included host Paul F. Thompkins and guest appearances from Jackson Brown, Nellie McKay, Ben Lee, Ben Gibbard, Patrick Park, Sean Hayes, Chuck Prophet, Josh Ritter, Joe Henry, Grant Lee Phillips, members of the Decemberists and Morgan Murphy.
Look for Aimee’s 7th solo release, Smilers, coming in Spring 2008.
Live On Stage:
I don't really know too much about Aimee other than her soundtrack work - Magnolia, I Am Sam, so let's take a listen...
Speaking of Magnolia, here's the music video...
Couple more to check out...
For more on Aimee Mann hit up her official website.
Saturday, May 3, 2008