Aimee Mann is asking to Save Me

American singer-songwriter Aimee Mann made her group debut with mid-1980s Boston new wavers ’Til Tuesday and the Mike Thorne-helmed album Voices Carry. With her darkly sardonic and literate lyrics, Mann not only broke out with a sterling solo career that’s still going strong, but also started the aesthetic trend of the rat-tail, which was in full fashionista flow in 1999 with a certain lightly Beatles-eque strummer

Blame the philosophical mind-whatthefuckery of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia — a movie with an eccentric ensemble including Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore and (in his final role) Jason Robards that consistently awakens even the coldest cesspools of sensitivity. 

Perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing considering the characters were given real words that real people use? The audience can jump right in then, get grounded within them and relate – a Venn diagram of “temptation” and “pain” with “fate” sitting in the middle of the overlap. 

Anderson adapted the song writings from Boston troubadour Aimee Mann, who appears on over half of the original soundtrack.

It’s her sense of confidence that really sells it; on paper the lyrics “come on and save me” might read like coffee-shop fodder, but the brutal force with which she plucks every count lends a tension to the scene that transcends, as fate would, above it all. Oh, and that smile? Reduced me into a slobbery mess, so it did – as though the tears were unleashed from the same sky as the film’s frenzy of frogs.

In 2000, Save Me lost out on the Academy Award to the ubiquitous Phil Collins (I’ve hated Tarzan ever since), so now she dedicates the song to him before she plays it with the immortal words “The song that lost an Oscar to Phil Collins and his cartoon monkey love song.” And I thought I was sarcastic. 

Even weirder – Tourniquet from the first verse is quite a common lyric, found in songs by Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews Band, and tawdry titles from The Mars Volta and Marilyn Manson. Gosh, how times have changed. “Whassah ternikett?”

Pop Goes the World.

Steve Pafford

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