Category Archives: Aimee Mann

A Mann-ly Little Christmas, with a Vengeance


After more than a year of preamble (don’t ask), my first piece for Express is a short preview of Aimee Mann’s 3rd Annual Christmas show, pulling into the Birchmere on Monday. I enjoyed the prior two interations of this, I liked Smilers, Mann’s new album for this year, and I find her to be an engaging personage in general. So that’s a quadruple recommendation right there.

Media Mix X: I Love the 80s Edition

I actually did own a Poison album — on cassette — in the 1980s. I probably didn’t find out about Aimee Mann until Magnolia in 1999, like much of the rest of America. Though I did have the Jerry Maguire soundtrack, which included “Wise Up,” three years before that.

When I interviewed Aimee in January, I asked her to clear that up:

ME: You’ve introduced the song “Wise Up” a few times as “a song from Magnolia,” a film which of course made prominent use of, and was in part inspired by, your music. But “Wise Up” was on the Jerry Maguire soundtrack three years before Magnolia came out. Were you making a point by associating it with the later film?

MANN: Well, I wrote it for Jerry Maguire. [Writer/director Cameron Crowe] really liked the demo, and then he didn’t like the finished version, so he didn’t put it in the movie. Then after the movie came out, he called me and said, “I don’t know what I was thinking! Your version is awesome. I guess I was just kind of attached to the demo.” So he put it on the soundtrack album. So it’s there, and on the DVD, but it wasn’t in the original release of the film.

And then [Magnolia writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson] heard it, and he really liked it. So [the song’s prominent use in Magnolia, a surreal sequence wherein several characters in different locations are seen simultaneously singing the tune aloud] was kind of a sweet shout-out.

In any case, time and maturing taste has made my allegiances clear.

It’s a Mann’s Mann’s Mann’s Mann’s World, cont.

aimee_mann__smilers_071223_h_2550.jpgPostscript from the big little Birchmere show.

Capsule review: Nice! Aimee was in better voice than she’d been at the Christmas show in December, although still having some troube, most noticeably during “Deathly,” the last song she sang. On the upside, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her smile as much during a performance as she did last night. A relaxed, happy performer is naturally more fun to watch than a nervous one.

As promised, she made up more than half the 19-song set on the fly from audience requests dropped in a bucket at the foot of the stage before the show. (No love for “The Fall of the World’s Great Optimist,” my request, though.) After she chose “Susan” as the first audience-request number, she told us, “Here’s the funny thing: I never remember my own songs. So part of the fun of this is going to be . . . well, I don’t know what about it is going to be fun for you at all.”

She also played eight songs from the upcoming Smilers album, including “Medicine Wheel,” which we heard here at the Birchmere a year and a half ago, “Columbus Ave.”, which she played at the 2006 Christmas show, and “31 Today,” which she performed at last year’s Christmas show. Conclusions: Um, she plays regularly at the Birchmere. And she’s not shy about playing stuff she has no plans to release for quite a while.

Bonus points: she dissed Coldplay when somebody asked for “The Scientist,” stating reasonably enough that since she couldn’t recall her own lyrics, she certainly wasn’t going to remember lyrics as “not necessarily overly erudite” as those. Oh, snap!

The setlist:

*denotes a tune frome Smiliers, the new album she said last night will probably be out in April.

01 (unidentified song from Smilers) Sample lyric: “You’ve got a lot of money but you can’t afford a freeway.”

02 31 Today*

03 Susan (lots of scat-singing, many forgotten lyrics, ultimately aborted)

04 Longshot

05 (unidentified song from Smilers) lyrical snatches: “You love me like a dollar bill,” “love doesn’t change a thing.” Nice change/change wordplay there, Ma’am.

06 4th of July

07 The Great Beyond*

08 The Other End of the Telescope

09 Little Tornado*

10 How Am I Different

11 Medicine Wheel*

12 Invisible Ink

13 Columbus Ave.*

14 Ray

15 It’s Not

16 Borrowing Time* (commissioned for and rejected from the Shrek III soundtrack, she said)

17 Save Me

18 Wise Up

19 Deathly

It’s a Mann’s Mann’s Mann’s Mann’s World

. . . but she still has to talk to me. Well, actually, no, she doesn’t. At all. But I asked her publicist very nicely, and she did.

She seems like a nice lady. Sings a little, too.