Aimee Mann – One More Drifter in the Snow (2006)

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I am now going to indulge in a little misty-eyed gaze into the crystal ball: Til Tuesday’s album Voices Carry came out in 1985. I was living in an apartment in southern New Hampshire.

What I remember about “Voices Carry,” the song, is that it played several times a day (if not at least once per hour) on MTV. I can remember Aimee Mann’s shock of spiky blond hair and perfect face. Her voice had that catch in it that made it distinct from many of her female contemporaries.

Looking back over all of those years, I can recall more details of that voice than I can about my wife at the time. Hey, that’s how memories work. Sometimes they pop up with what seems like no reason. I guarantee you that my wife at the time was more important to me than a Til Tuesday record, and imagining a time when that would be reversed was just out of the question.

Just about as out of the question as Aimee Mann putting together a Christmas album. I mean, what Christmas character would she have been playing? Santa’s freaky new-wave niece?

Sure, I never would have thought a Mann Christmas record would come to pass. It also never occurred to me that I would forget details about my prime relationship while still being able to recall the little footpath between the apartment complex and the local record store.

This of course has nothing to do with Christmas. And everything. In my house we get together every year to enjoy each other’s company, exchange a few gifts, and eat some extremely unhealthy food. I look forward to it simply because the end of the year is approaching and it very often has the feel, on a larger scale, of each week’s end. That is, I feel like I’m falling into it. Saturday morning comes around and there’s a feeling of “what happened?” The year comes to a close and it’s more than a little disconcerting that so many events have come to pass. The details are kind of fuzzy too. Weird.

For some reason, the details of music never go out of focus for me. Even Christmas music, which has become so ubiquitous that many people have stopped listening. Not me. I like to celebrate the season by picking up one new Christmas record per year. It’s fun to gauge an artist’s idea pool by checking out their twists on the traditional. Vince Guaraldi, John Fahey, Wynton Marsalis. All of them filter that tradition through their own pasts.

In 2006, I added Aimee’s Mann’s One More Drifter In The Snow to my Christmas pile. It’s worth the price just for her take on “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” but there are several other selections that push it far, far beyond the regular celebrity holiday covers record. There’s the Michael Penn and Jon Brion-penned “Christmastime” that features all of the subtle sonic elements you would expect from anything with the Brion name attached to it. Then we have Duke Levine adding his signature guitar to an almost swampy “Winter Wonderland.” It would be hard to beat the sparse intensity of her “White Christmas.” Go ahead, you deserve this record. Trust me.

One More Drifter In the Snow starts off with Jimmy Webb’s “Whatever Happened To Christmas,” an interesting and pensive song that asks ” … whatever happened to it all?” Yeah, that’s what I want to know.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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