… Aimee Mann.
I consider myself a lapsed musician. I sang from age five with my family, did countless choirs and musical theater productions throughout school, was music director of my college a-cappella group, and fronted several bands. It’s been a long time since I wrote a new song or sang for a crowd, but I’ve done both. For ages. And Aimee Mann has been one of my musical heros since I first heard “Whatever” back in middle school. The clincher for me? There’s a lyric on that album that goes, “And she’s got the river down which I sold her.” Grammatically correct songwriting is my kryptonite. Helps, too, that Mann writes great hooks and amazing story songs, has a uniquely earnest and plaintive voice, and consistently releases albums that are beautifully produced, engaging to hear, and gobs of fun to sing along to.
She was also hilarious on Portlandia. And Buffy. And in The Big Lebowski. My guess is she’s a very clever, fun, ridiculously smart person.
I never gave much thought to Mann’s style until I saw her in concert when she toured for “Lost in Space.” During that time, she mostly dressed like this:
one | two | three
I loved her take on menswear chic, and I certainly admired her choice to be extremely covered-up in an era that focuses on cleavage and exposure and super-sexy-see-through outfits. Like most people, Mann’s style has shifted quite a bit over time but she’s always struck me as someone who is comfortable in her own skin and makes style choices based on her own preferences. Sure, her looks follow the trends to some extent, but she always looks a little edgy and rebellious, a little tough, and definitely more laid-back than uptight.
one (album cover, 1993) | two (2012) | three (2006) | four (2014) | five (album cover, 2000)
I love a little mindless dance pop as much as the next person, but when I want to think and feel I’m more likely to reach for an Aimee Mann album. She explores everything from May-December romances, to the links between charisma and narcissism, to the paralysis of depression, to our fascination with bad boys and bad choices. I admire her so much for writing insightful, funny love songs and perhaps even more for writing incisive, emotional, unusual songs about how complicated and trying it can be to be a human. She’s a gifted musician and lyricist, a woman who seems to dress primarily for her own self-expression and pleasure, and I sincerely hope I can cook her a spaghetti dinner someday.
Anyone else an Aimee Mann fan? From Til Tuesday times, or more recent? Have you heard her new collaboration with Ted Leo?
Top image source
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