Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Aimee Mann

Do you know, I have beavered away at this blog for over two years and 150 posts now and I still haven’t got around to talking about one of my favourite singer-songwriters, Aimee Mann. How has this happened? But in a curious way, this state of affairs epitomises her career to date in that she tends to be a forgotten talent and now I’m just as guilty of ignoring her as most of the buying public.

I first came across Ms Mann when her debut album, ‘Whatever’ was released in 1993. At that point I had no idea about her previous incarnation, ‘Til Tuesday’ who squeezed out 3 albums, largely written by Mann, in the late 80s, but was hugely impressed by her solo song writing. It is not so much the melodies that I like, although they are pretty good, but her assured chord progressions that seem to wrap you up in a familiar yet unfamiliar way. I became fascinated by the way she constructs songs around these ‘safe harbour’ chord changes that in the hands of others would produce yet another dull song. It is a gift.

Perhaps this is her problem. Perhaps it is the fact that by being the ultimate craftsman, she only appeals to purists like me and to the majority she is just another artist. Joss Whedon, another self confessed music obsessive, often used the fictional nightclub ‘The Bronze’ in his vampire soap opera ‘Buffy..’ to showcase unsigned or underexposed artists. He clearly felt that she needed more exposure by booking her to appear in Episode 8 of Season 7 doing versions of ‘This is How it Goes’ and ‘Pavlov’s Bell’ whilst a vampire brawl develops. She is seen coming off stage muttering, ‘Man, I hate playing Vampire towns!’

Strangely, her breakthrough came not from her own solo albums but from music she wrote for the film ‘Magnolia’ starring Tom Cruise and Julianne Moore, the screenplay being worked around the lyrics from the eight songs she contributed. ‘Save Me’ was Grammy nominated as a result and she suddenly appeared on the national radar.

Since then she has balanced the release of her solo work with more film soundtracks and has clearly found a niche for herself. Whilst this is good news for her it does mean that she has still not found major success in the pop world which is a shame but then the list of genuinely good artists who fail to sell mega-amounts of what the music industry would call ‘product’ is depressingly long.


Anonymous said...

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musicobsessive said...

Hi Susan, welcome to my blog. Thank you for your kind words. There's lots more to come so keep looking in.