Aimee Mann :: My Top 10 Favorite Songs
I was a teenager, well-versed in the world of MTV and alternative radio (before the term “alternative” really took hold), when I first heard Til Tuesday. We all know what song it was, because I think it was Voices Carry where we all heard Aimee Mann for the first time. I suppose it could have become a one-hit wonder kind of love affair, but for me it was the start of something with long-lasting potential. I owned and loved all three Til Tuesday albums, actually preferring their final release (Everything’s Different Now), which looking back, that album set the tone and style, both sonically and lyrically, that Aimee would continue with in her solo career.
I was working at a record store when I stumbled on Whatever, Aimee’s first solo album. I had missed its release in ’93 somehow, so when I spotted it while shelving CD’s I was ecstatic, and could not wait to give it a listen. Though I love all her solo albums, including the soundtrack to Magnolia, I do believe it is Whatever that means the most to me (Lost In Space a very close second).
I have had the opportunity to see Aimee Mann play live three times, twice in Southern California, and once in Chicago, and each time I have enjoyed more than the last. She is one of those artists that I will always try to catch when she tours, and I am sad and disappointed that I have not gotten to see (yet) her holiday show (hope she does one again this season).
Aimee is a true storyteller and songwriter, the kind that spins a tale, but leaves out just enough so that the listener can find themselves within the song. She writes and sings about things that matter and move me, like love, loss, addiction, age, death, life, success, art, and relationships of all kinds. I have found myself in her songs, gone to them for comfort and consort, and am ever inspired in my own writing by hers, art inspiring art is so vivid and valuable to me, it is why I am always stressing to keep art alive, to support the arts in any and every way you can.
Ten songs was hard to narrow down, but that is part of the project, so here they are, my Top 10 Aimee Mann songs (at least for today):
“I’m certain that I am alone,
in harboring thoughts of our home.
It’s one of my faults that I can’t quell my past,
I ought to have gotten it gone.”
It was never my favorite holiday, but somehow it became us and ours, for reasons I still could not explain. Now the holiday brings the weight of loss and sadness to me, a shadow I can never seem to shake off. They all get on with it, they all expect that I have, too, especially me, but the past is still there, with me, and it still hurts like hell.
“‘Cos nothing can wait forever,
they don’t give unlimited chances in life;
they hand you the knife and tell you to cut it around.”
Age is there, never stopping, always persisting, and ever reminding that time is fleeting, that dreams need tending, and that you cannot wait forever. When we hit the wall of it’s over, when we realize chances are gone, well, we never should have let the sand hit the bottom of the hourglass. Or maybe it just calls for a challenge, to cast our net wide and far, pulling back our dreams to us, our goals, our plans; they hand you a knife, but only we know where to cut.
“Knowing all that you’ve got ,
are cigarettes and red vines.
Just close your eyes, ’cause, baby,
you never do know.”
Late teens with a record store job and a personality in desperate need of an overhaul. I took all the money I had, whatever I could spare, to try to buy a new life. Most nights, though, we had enough for gas and cigarettes, a bottle of cheap wine to share, and some kind of candy for the come down.
“I’ve got love and anger,
they come as a pair,
you can take your chances,
But buyer beware.
And, I won’t,
make you feel bad,
when I show you,
this big ball of sad isn’t,
worth even filling with air.”
There is baggage that comes with my heart that people never seem to see at first glance, pain and insecurities, and a heap of sad that no one expects to find. The pressure to maintain all the strength that everyone thinks is just a part of me is exhausting, and leaves a big, gaping lonely hole deep inside of me. I love with arms wide, in big, big ways, but I am full of heavier and darker things, too, things that most people want nothing to do with.
“Cause it’s all about drugs,
it’s all about shame,
and whatever they want,
don’t tell them your name.”
This one hurts to hear, as does the memories it unlatches and sets free. Loving someone who is addicted is an addiction itself, I suppose, and it guts you and those parts that are now missing, that are now carved out and lost, they never seem to heal. No matter how much I loved, no matter how much I tried, the drugs always won.
“So, like a ghost in the snow,
I’m getting ready to go,
’cause baby, that’s all I know,
how to open the door.”
Fight or flight, for me it was always the latter. I have run as fast as a fire’s flame to escape from the collapse and pending loss that I have felt in the arms of someone I loved. Sometimes, though, running as fast as you can is not fast enough, and the pain of your heart breaking is almost fatal, the almost being worse than if it was.
“Now that I met you,
would you object to,
never seeing each other again?”
He was the worst case scenario, the big bad mistake waiting to happen, the devil in the details, and yet I sat down and let him order me a drink. To be honest I think I knew in the first exchanged sentences that I should have got up and walked away, but I stayed instead. He was worse than I could have predicted, but then again, so was I.
“But it’s not going to stop,
it’s not going to stop,
it’s not going to stop,
’til you wise up.”
It was a snowy night, bitter cold winds, and as the bus brakes shrieked to halt at my stop this song came on. As I trudged to our “home“, boot marks leaving indentations for each step taken, the tears started to fall. By the time the song ended I was sobbing, barely breathing, knowing that we were really over.
“So baby kiss me like a drug,
like a respirator,
and let me fall into the dream of the astronaut,
where I get lost in space that goes on forever,
and you make all the rest just an afterthought.
And, I believe it’s you who could make it better,
though it’s not.”
The wall to the right of the bed had a imperfect line in the wallpaper, for just a moment in the smooth surface the design did not add up. Most nights when he slept next to me, passed out, breathing raggedly and sweating bourbon, I would stare at the imperfection and think it was just like me, just like my life. Morning would come, and he would kiss me and tell me he loved me, and I would ignore the snag on the wall, pretending it had disappeared, knowing full well that it was right there waiting.
“I wish I was both,
young and stupid.”
Like the line from the Nirvana song, “I wish I was like you, easily amused“, my jaded self this song, and especially the called out lyrics above. Even when I was young I never felt young, the worries of my life overshadowing the wonder every time. If you could somehow get me to believe in magic, or belief itself, then I would give you just about anything.