Copyright 1999 BPI Communications, Inc.
November 13, 1999
LENGTH: 1017 words
SECTION: Cover Story - Music
HEADLINE: Mann Blossoms On Reprise Soundtrack
BYLINE: Jim Bessman
NEW YORK-The soundtrack to "Boogie Nights" director Paul Thomas Anderson's forthcoming film "Magnolia" not only marks the long-awaited return of Aimee Mann to the major-label recording scene. It actually influenced the movie's making.
As longtime Mann fan Anderson relates in the Reprise album's liner notes, when he began writing the screenplay to "Magnolia," he was listening intensely to Mann's music, which he intended to adapt for the screen much like adapting a book. He even took the opening line of her song "Deathly" and "wrote backwards" in telling the story of central character Claudia-around whom the film's complicated plot line revolves.
Anderson's hotly anticipated follow-up to "Boogie Nights" stars Jason Robards, Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise, and John C. Reilly and opens Dec. 20 in New York and Los Angeles, with national release Jan. 7.
The soundtrack for the New Line film comes out on Reprise Dec. 7 and features eight songs written and performed by Mann, as well as her cover of the Three Dog Night hit "One" from the 1995 "For The Love Of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson" Harry Nilsson tribute album. Supertramp's hits "Goodbye Stranger" and "Logical Song" are also included, as are Gabrielle's "Dreams" and Jon Brion's title track.
"In this age where every film, TV show, and video game has a compilation song soundtrack, this is really a pure soundtrack, where all the music is in the film and is closely associated with the story," says Danny Bramson, Reprise Records' senior VP of soundtrack development and the "Magnolia" soundtrack's executive producer. "It's wonderful the way Paul incorporated Aimee's songs into his film. He's one of the rare filmmakers who truly loves music and instinctively knows how to integrate it-rather than force it in to use it as a marketing tool."
Seconding Bramson, Warner Bros. marketing VP Peter Rauh says, "We're fortunate to have an artist-driven soundtrack project, which is uncommon in these days of strongly compiled soundtrack records. This gives the record a duality atypical of soundtrack marketing. It's almost a stand-alone as the newest Aimee Mann album, as well as the soundtrack to an incredibly powerful film."
The album cover, Rauh notes, identifies the contents as "songs by Aimee Mann." The story behind the soundtrack, he adds, is a large part of its marketing.
"It's brand-new material by a very well-regarded and established artist that helped spur the director's thinking as he created his latest work," Rauh says. "We'll make sure we get the story out to press and radio, because it's a really interesting way for people to rethink Aimee's career."
Mann's trouble-plagued career is finally on an upswing with the overlapping arrival of a self-released solo album (see story, this page) and the soundtrack to "Magnolia."
"Early word is that it's the hot film for Christmas," notes Rauh, adding, "People feel Anderson's the hot director of the time."
Anderson became friends with Mann after her husband, Michael Penn, scored "Boogie Nights" and Anderson's first film, the 1997 gambling pic "Hard Eight."
"He heard the record I was working on and was really excited about some of the songs and started working on a screenplay. Then I would read some of the screenplay and play some music and fit it in thematically," says Mann. "There were a couple songs that were written that way, back and forth."
The songs "Save Me" and "You Do" were written expressly for the movie, Mann adds. According to Rauh, a rather unusual Anderson-directed videoclip for "Save Me" is being sent to radio and retail and other music industry VIPs.
"He created it simultaneously while filming the movie," says Rauh. "He would shoot scenes with the actors in character and then stop and replace them with Aimee and reshoot it as a piece of the video. So there will be a scene in the movie with Julianne Moore and the same scene in the video with Aimee singing, rather than just intercutting film footage into the video."
Warner Bros. is marketing "Magnolia" essentially as "an Aimee Mann record without a film," adds Rauh, though initial efforts will focus on the film's limited release in New York and Los Angeles. He says that New Line is "ecstatic about working the film" and will be "incredibly aggressive" in a national print ad campaign, which follows the notable trailer for the movie that ran in September during MTV's video awards show.
"It was very jarring to see a movie coming out in December being promoted at that event, and it generated incredible word-of-mouth," says Rauh.
Should the movie succeed, it could help Mann's solo disc as well as the soundtrack, notes Bob Douglas, divisional merchandising manager for music at amazon.com.
"How much exposure she gets depends on how big the movie is," he says. "I hope it's hugely successful, because she deserves the exposure and it would auger well for the solo release. Her [soundtrack] songs are vintage Aimee: instrumentally superb and with her keynote plaintive vocal. But her potential has never been tapped during the current wave of lesser women singer/songwriters, who have gone to gold and platinum sales while Aimee's put out great material that's been overlooked."
Here Douglas points to the "whole drama" of Mann's record company tribulations, which Nicole Sandler, music director of Los Angeles triple-A stations KACD and KBCD, echoes. "She's incredibly talented with a uniquely beautiful voice and has put out some magnificent albums," says Sandler. "But she's had a run of bad luck being with the wrong labels at the wrong times."
For the soundtrack to the upcoming indie black comedy "Road Kill," Sandler used a Mann song, "You Can Make A Killing," from her 1995 solo album, "I'm With Stupid."
"Her music is so distinctive and lends itself to film," Sandler says. "I'd love to see "Magnolia' help propel her to a whole new level."
Mann isn't sure what her role will be in promoting the "Magnolia" soundtrack, other than doing interviews. But she has been performing "Deathly" and "You Do" at her ongoing concert appearances.