Interview: Aimee Mann

Categories: Featured

On Wednesday morning, July 30, Aimee Mann will appear on The View. That evening she will perform at the Highline Ballroom (advance tickets are sold out; check with the club for day of show admission). On August 1 Mann will headline the Music Hall of Williamsburg (that show is also sold out). In between, on the evening of July 31st, Mann and Netherland author Joseph O'Neill will appear at the Barnes & Nobles at Union Square as part of the store's 'Upstairs at the Square' series. Admission is free.

Maybe "we're all broken and nobody gets out alive."

photo by Sheryl Nields

File Aimee Mann under Master of Melancholy. From the purely plaintive mid-'80s MTV hit "Voices Carry" through the mid-tempo minor chords highlighted in P.T. Anderson's Magnolia, Mann's music has ministered to more than one midnight self-pity party. And such improbable sing-alongs as "Deathly," "You Could Make A Killing," "Nothing Is Good Enough," "Calling It Quits," "I've Had It" and "Save Me" certify that the former 'Til Tuesday frontwoman long ago found her niche, and yet over time has managed enough melodic maneuverability (2005's conceptual The Forgotten Arm chronicles a drug-addicted pugilist while her latest, @#%&*! Smilers, operates without the safety net of so much as a single electric guitar) to maintain a primarily pristine poignancy.

In late June, with Mann at home in Los Angeles between stints of her current tour, we did the cross-country phone thing and covered topics like songwriting, sequencing and setlists, and the relatively unique struggles of folks in their forties.

I'm getting confused by different recorders that aren't working.  

Is your recorder working?

My recorder is working. It's just not the recorder that I wanted to work. But it's a long story and if we've only got 20 minutes . . .  

Yeah, but I can talk fast.

Well, I can't because I'm from Alabama, so it's not a story worth telling.


I promise I'm going to ask deep and philosophical songwriting questions, but I want to save them for the end.  


Tell me something that you've never ever done before in your life.

I've never done that giant ski jump thing.

Yeah, there's a name for that. They have that at Lake Placid.

Yeah, what is it?  The long distance jump?

That sounds good. Do you have a fear of heights or is it just me who would be scared by that?

Yeah, it's got a flavor of "one false move and wow, it's going to go horribly wrong."

I mean, I'm not saying that I can't go to the top of the Empire State Building . . . 

I can't go to the top of the Empire State Building.

Oh, you're worse than I am then.  

Yeah. I think I'd rather do the skiing thing because, you know, there's an element of like skill and control and you're going to land. I would rather do the ski jump than sky dive, which I've never done either.

Okay. Tell me something that you've done once and one time only.

There's probably many.

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