Copyright 1988 Globe Newspaper Company
The Boston Globe

November 10, 1988, Thursday, City Edition


LENGTH: 560 words

Aimee Mann deals with lost love through new songs

BYLINE: By Steve Morse, Globe Staff

    Three years ago, singers Aimee Mann and Jules Shear were the talk of the MTV Video Awards. They sat together at ceremonies in Radio City Music Hall, smiling and giggling as though in the clutches of first love. Their embraces were flashed on a screen - and they easily stole the show.

But the romance didn't last. Mann, who fronts Boston's 'Til Tuesday, was back on her own a year later. She took some time off, then poured her dashed dreams into the new 'Til Tuesday album, "Everything's Different Now," which is the most confessional album since Bruce Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love."

"There are some songs that are not strictly about him," Mann says, alluding to Shear. "But I guess they refer to emotions that can be traced back to him."

For anyone who thought 'Til Tuesday was a somewhat remote band based on their first two albums, then one listen to the new LP will change your mind. It is laden with heartrending lyrics in which Mann, who also writes one song with Elvis Costello, tries to make sense of the breakup and move on.

"It was a rough situation. When it was roughest, I didn't write at all - and that contributed to this record taking so long," Mann says in a recent interview before a club tour that hits the Rat in Kenmore Square this Saturday and Sunday.

"It was a really amazing relationship. I thought it was very healthy to stay together, but Jules just couldn't make up his mind," says Mann. Hence the LP's first single, "Believed You Were Lucky," which starts: "So I guess I'll give it up/Yeah I guess I will/What's the use in pushing/When it's all uphill."

Other songs, most of them in 'Til Tuesday's airy soft-rock style, heighten the mood: "Rip in Heaven," "Long Gone (Buddy)" and the very specific "J for Jules," where Mann laments, "You know I'll miss you."

The latter was one of the first tunes penned after the breakup. "I went to Los Angeles to stay with a friend. He was this older guy and very fatherly. He took me around to restaurants and was very nice. He had an old Martin guitar and I played four chords on it and immediately broke down crying. Those are the chords on 'J for Jules.' When I later sat down to write it, it just came out. It was like writing a letter to somebody. It was already in the air."

Ironically, the title track "Everything's Different Now" is written by Shear, who has enjoyed recent success with his band Reckless Sleepers. The song was written before the breakup, but appears to foreshadow it.

"I still talk to Jules once in a while," says Mann. "We have great conversations, but obviously they scare him off a bit. And yes, it made him a little uncomfortable to have his name on a song, but he's not in a position to complain."

One confidant during the breakup was Elvis Costello, who talked to Mann well into the night after his show at Harvard University last year. "He was a big help to me. He said, 'Love him as long as you can - and as much as you can.' "

Mann has endured other changes, too. Her band retains drummer Michael Hausman, but gone are guitarist Robert Holmes (now part of Boston's Ultra Blue) and pianist Joey Pesca (now with Still Life). The new musicians are pianist Michael Montes, guitarist Clayton Scobel and acoustic guitarist Jon Brion, who is also her new boyfriend. "He's been great," Mann says. "He's helped me feel strong and happy again."

GRAPHIC: PHOTO, 1987 Globe photo / Sound: Aimee Mann on a new track