“I assume the brief on me is that people think that I write these really depressing songs. I don’t know — people may have a different viewpoint — but that’s my own interpretation of the cliché about me.” – Aimee Mann
“She’s a vastly underrated songwriter,” wrote NPR’s Robin Hilton. “She’ll never make it into any hall of fame, but like the other writers on this list, she has a real gift for piercing the heart of something, revealing instead of telling and wrapping it all up in inspired melodies.”
Aimee Mann fans who are reading this are most likely howling “Yes!”, “Exactly!”, “Tell me something I didn’t know already!”
The singer, songwriter, bassist, guitarist and occasional actor is hitting two Jersey venues in the early summer. And while June may seem far away, you’d be surprised how quickly Aimee Mann’s faithful will snatch up those tickets.
In the early 1980s, Mann founded the new wave rock band ‘Til Tuesday. The band released their song “Voices Carry” in 1985. In addition to the song, the accompanying video received heavy play on MTV, earning the band an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist.
After launching her solo career, Mann received both Academy and Grammy award nominations for her song “Save Me,” part of the original music she wrote for the score of “Magnolia” (1999), a film that was produced and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
In 2017, she released “Mental Illness,” her ninth studio album.
“I assume the brief on me is that people think that I write these really depressing songs,” Mann says. “I don’t know — people may have a different viewpoint — but that’s my own interpretation of the cliché about me. So if they thought that my songs were very down-tempo, very depressing, very sad, and very acoustic, I thought I’d just give myself permission to write the saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they’re-all-waltzes-so-be-it record I could…I mean, calling it Mental Illness makes me laugh, because it is true, but it’s so blunt that it’s funny.”
While she was born in Richmond, Virginia and cut her teeth on the rock scene in Boston, Mann also boasts a Jersey connection. In 2014, she collaborated with punk rocker Ted Leo, who grew up in Bloomfield and attended Seton Hall Prep in West Orange. The duo called themselves The Both and released an album under the same name.
And if you’re looking for some Aimee Mann film trivia, you may recognize her from a small but memorable role she played in the Coen Brothers’ film, The Big Lebowski. She appeared as the nine-toed “German nihilist” along with Flea, the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as Peter Stormare and Torsten Voges.
“I think it is hard to be a person. It is really hard to negotiate relationships, it’s hard to negotiate loss, it’s hard to have perspective on your own problems, it’s hard to break out of the habits and dynamics of your childhood,” Mann said in an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered. “And people aren’t really naturally born with the skills to negotiate it. So I have a lot of compassion for people. Everyone’s struggling in some way.”
Aimee Mann plays Ocean City Music Pier at 681 Asbury Avenue in Ocean City on Monday, June 18 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available here. Her show at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City takes place on Sunday, June 19. Tickets are available here.