Copyright 2000 Gannett Company, Inc.  

January 4, 2000, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 401 words

HEADLINE: Aimee Mann blooms on 'Magnolia' Singer's voice carries inspiration for movie, dominates soundtrack

BYLINE: Don Waller; Special for USA TODAY


   LOS ANGELES -- "The kind of person an artist should seek encouragement
from is not somebody who's in the business," says Aimee Mann,
suppressing a dry chuckle.

After scoring a 1985 hit (Voices Carry) with Boston New
Wavers 'Til Tuesday, Mann has recorded three acclaimed solo albums
-- none of which was released by the company for which it was
recorded -- becoming the poster child for poor artist-label relationships.

Encouragement, for Mann, came in the form of director/screenwriter
Paul Thomas Anderson. Anderson proudly acknowledges that his latest
film, Magnolia (which is set for wide release Friday),
was greatly inspired by listening to Mann's music -- which also
forms the basis of the film's soundtrack album.

"She goes for the big topics -- love," Anderson says, "but
articulates them in a simple way. She uses everyday phrases and
makes them beautiful, like 'Now that I've met you, would you object
to never seeing each other again?'

"I always listen to music when I write my films and plan them
out to the music. This time, the soundtrack was almost my compilation
of all my favorite Aimee Mann songs -- and two that she wrote
specifically for the film. I'd like to think it was almost a Gilbert
& Sullivan relationship."

Sitting on the couch of the Laurel Canyon home she shares with
her husband, recording artist Michael Penn (actor Sean's older
brother), Mann explains that while Save Me was composed
for the film's final scene, You Do was written from the
perspective of an off-screen romantic victim of the loathsome
character played by Tom Cruise. "As for Wise Up," she
says, "when I read Paul's script and saw everyone singing along
to that song, I thought, 'How is this possibly going to work?'
But you buy it."

While working on Magnolia, Mann found herself in the middle
of the Universal-PolyGram merger, which shuffled her recording
contract from one label to another. Mann eventually bought the
rights to the album she'd recorded from her corporate masters.

She plans to make the record, Bachelor No. 2, available
on her own SuperEgo label and through her Web site
early next year.

"I can't really tell you what (the buyout) cost -- out of courtesy
to them," Mann says. "For a record company, it's not that much
money. For a human being, it's an enormous amount of money."

GRAPHIC: PHOTO, Color, Carlos Serrao, SuperEgo; Aimee Mann: Wrote eight of the songs on the 'Magnolia' soundtrack