Copyright 1993 Information Access Company, a Thomson Corporation Company
Copyright 1993 Miller Freeman Publications
SECTION: Vol. 27 ; No. 10 ; Pg. 38; ISSN: 0017-5463
LENGTH: 358 words
HEADLINE: Aimee Mann's cliche death list; Song Writing; Interview; Cover Story
BYLINE: Smith, C.M.
Whatever happened to 'Til Tuesday? Powered by platinum-haired frontwoman Aimee Mann's sultry voice, poignant lyrics, and tough bass playing, the band's debut album and its title single, "Voices Carry," sky-rocketed the Boston quartet to mid-'80s stardom. Now, four years after the band's demise, Mann has resurfaced with Whatever, her Imago solo debut. A richly varied pop project with a definite Beatles/Byrds flavor, the album boasts powerful tunes, abundant vocal harmonies, and memorable guitar hooks from Mann, producer Jon Brion, and guest jangler Roger McGuinn.
Clever yet powerful lyrics are Mann's strong suit. She argues that the state of rock songwriting suffers from the willingness of many writers to regurgitate worn-out, second-hand imagery, illustrating her point with examples drawn from the "must avoid" section of her well-worn notebook.
Most lyricists don't want to write meaningful stuff; they want to write stuff that sounds meaningful, which is a different thing altogether. They rely too much on the standard rock cliches. Good writers turn the cliches around, so at least you know they've thought about it, rather than saying, "Well, I've heard this 800,000 times, so it must be good!" I try to avoid certain images that I feel have been done to death, like:
* Weather and the elements. Rain, storms, clouds, snow. If one more person prays for rain, I'll scream.
* Geography. Mountains, rivers, valleys, streams, oceans. Usually someone is crossing or climbing one or more of these to get to his or her love.
* Any reference to angels or hearts.
* Traveling or rambling from town to town. Either in a train or car with your baby, or alone, searching for or running away from your baby.
* Use of the word baby.
* Gambling. Rolling of the dice in any way, shape, or form. Ace of spades, queen of hearts, etc.
* Weapons. Usually guns or knives.
Many of these cliches were originally written by great writers, but now they're misused over and over again. I'm guilty of some of them myself. I don't consider myself a great writer, but I would like to think that I can at least proofread.