Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Aimee Mann revisited

Swankette and I enjoyed Aimee Mann's Christmas revue tonight.

It really was something else. She sang a load of the stuff from her Christmas album from last year. If you listen closely, many of the best Christmas songs are sad. Listening to Aimee get through "I'll Be Home For Christmas," what is at heart a sad, wistful love song, is something to behold.

It's so confusing. Just a few years ago, I was saying (in one of my first posts on this blog) that I thought I had outgrown Aimee. She was still producing sad, upset breakup songs. I began to suspect that my sunnier disposition wouldn't match hers.

Well, I was wrong. Here she was tonight, singing beautifully, having a few Hollywood friends mock her in a homemade movie (In it, Ben Stiller says "Hey! Sing that one song about being really depressed!") and singing a mix of poppy Christmas-related hits ("It's Cold Outside," "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"), past songs of hers that mention the holiday ("I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up for Christmas," "Jacob Marley's Chain,") and a couple of non-holiday numbers. She's been married for nearly a decade, and her most recent album's love songs are all less personal. The Forgotten Arm is more an opera than her former barrages of the "kiss and tell off" genre--exactly what I needed through my 20s, but not anymore.

Which leads me to this: I'm back on the Aimee-loving bandwagon, as a current member rather than a member emeritus. She used to write pissed-off songs that said "How could you do this to me?" like "Stupid Thing," "Say Anything," and "Long Shot." Now she writes pissed off songs that say "How could you do this to yourself?" The horribly sad "I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up..." and the older "That's Just What You Are" are examples of this. She's got another album coming out in March, and played a song from it tonight. The delicious hook from that song, "Freeway," goes as follows: "You've got a lot of money/But you can't afford the freeway." Aimee's still mad, but she's no longer taking it as personally. She's pissed off at people who settle for the multitude of ways that can manifest itself.

I think I've made that leap from taking-it-personally to taking-it-less-personally as well, and it's great to have Aimee Mann along with me. That's my favorite thing about long-term relationships with artists...sometimes you feel like you're growing up together. Aimee is 10 years older than I am, which makes her older than either one of us would like to admit. So the old pissed-off love songs wouldn't feel quite right from her anymore--just as I complained back in '04 that they don't feel quite right on my stereo anymore.

I'll need to load The Forgotten Arm onto the iPod for the next week or so. I need to get the recent Aimee back in my life. She's a helluva poet, and her introspective voice does me good.

"Sometimes it hurts me/To feel so much tenderness/Beautiful..."


pankleb said...

Really? The recent stuff is worth a few more listens? "I'm With Stupid" and "Whatever" are extremely underrated in my book, but I've been wary over the past few years. Guess it's time to check it out.

TeacherRefPoet said...

It is, pankleb. For what it's worth, I think -The Forgotten Arm- is the best of the albums since -I'm With Stupid.- -Bachelor #2- and -Magnolia- tie for second (the latter has all of the former's songs plus -Wise Up-, an absolute necessity if for no other reason than it wins the cuthroat competition of being Aimee's most depressing song). -Lost in Space- is probably the last one to check out.

And the Christmas album, -One More Drifter in the Snow-. Worth getting too.

tommyspoon said...

I was so disappointed when I learned that I had rehearsal so I couldn't go see her. However, according to this review, it's probably a show I needed to skip.

I do want to see her the next time she's in town.