Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Song #108 of 9999 - Save Me by Aimee Mann

Song #108 of 9999

Title: Save Me
Artist: Aimee Mann
Year: 2000
Album: Bachelor No. 2

I'll start by admitting that, when I saw Til Tuesday on MTV for the first time in 1985, I pretty much wrote them off. "Voices Carry" was an okay song and Aimee Mann was cute and had a great haircut but, to me, they sounded like The Cars with a girl singing. I didn't really understand at the time what a great hook that song had and I wasn't really even thinking about songwriting in a rational way (remember, I was a huge Rush fan) so "Aimee Mann, The Songwriter" didn't even register.

Fast-forward to 2000 and all of sudden I have friends telling me to check out the new Aimee Mann album. Bachelor No. 2 features a number of songs written specifically for the 1999 film Magnolia (which I still haven't seen) at director Paul Thomas Anderson's request. It's a very fine album and spent a lot of time in my CD player that year. "Save Me" is probably the best song and certainly received the most attention, being nominated for a Best Song Oscar.
I've heard a bunch of songs that use the opening progression to this tune, Gm Gm(#7) Gm7 Gm6, but I don't think I've ever heard one that isn't actually in a minor key. Mann's use of the progression is a trick; the song actually starts on the submediant (vi) in Bb Major. It's really clever and I'm mad that I didn't think of it first! Wisely, she keeps the arrangement spare so her voice can be the rightful center of attention. Like her contemporary, Suzanne Vega, Mann chooses to present her voice in an unaffected manner with little to no reverb or delay and it works well to her advantage. The song also has some subdued but effective guitar work and a well-suited accordion.

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