It’s not going to stop
‘Til you wise up
Aimee Mann has just come off tour, and she’s sitting by the pool at her Los Angeles house talking on the phone to a reporter, catching her breath between projects and a battle against the dark forces of oppression.
One of her band members is quarantined in a Milwaukee hotel room with COVID, and it’s just two days after news leaked that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade. The latter has added a layer of meaning and urgency to the Women Who Rock concert Mann is headlining on May 22 at the Novo, a benefit to raise awareness and funds for women’s healthcare.
Mann, a Grammy-winning superstar singer-songwriter since breaking out with her band ‘Til Tuesday and the song “Voices Carry” in the mid-1980s, sounds both unsurprised and horrified by the state of affairs as she talks to LA Magazine just a few days after finishing up her tour following the release of November 2021’s “Queens of the Summer Hotel.”
“Of course we all saw it coming,” she said. “I mean it’s not a big shock. Obviously this is why the last three conservative judges were confirmed and this has been a plan for… a couple of decades. It’s now been implemented, and here we are. Like it’s been obvious.”
She adds: “It just makes you crazy that there are people who don’t feel like women should be able to have control over their own bodies. Like it’s crazy!”
Mann, both the muse and stirring soundtrack for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, didn’t get on the phone with an agenda or any talking points, but it’s clear she is paying close attention to a world on fire.
“I mean dude, there’s always going to be assholes in the world that you have to push back on… It’s a frightening amount of it right now, but it’s always been the case. We just have to band together and do the right thing and push back.”
“I think very few people want to ban abortion. It’s so clearly something that’s being pushed by a hatred of women and a need to control women, and I think women just won’t fucking put up with it anymore,” she said. “So I think there’s going to be a lot of activism. There’s gonna be a lot of action. And we’ll see what form that takes.” She quotes U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on abortion, and she’s happy talking politics because “it needs to be shouted from the rooftops.” She thinks this summer could see young people taking to the streets in protest like they did after the world learned of George Floyd’s murder.
At the May 22 Novo show, Mann will lead a line-up of women performers as they raise funds for the Magee Women’s Institute.
“It’s an exciting thing,” she said. “It’s sponsored by Gibson, and of course I play nothing but Gibson guitars when I’m on the road. I always like to be associated with them. I like this cause. I feel like even without the political hot-button issue of abortion that women’s health is given short shrift.
“Most medical studies are done on men and men tend to be the default position, and it’s just kind of nice that there’s an acknowledgement that half of the population should be paid attention to in a way that really impacts our health.”
And, she said, there’s something to be said for the power of music when it comes to protest or as a “gathering force,” she said.
“I think it helps as an encouragement, as an emotional reflector almost.”
When we talk, Mann is thinking about the health of one of her band members who is quarantined with COVID. He’s not “hospital sick,” but he’s sick in a hotel room in Milwaukee which sounds almost as bad. Like so many performers and entertainers, Mann is stuck between the idea that the show must go on and the unyielding reality that it can’t go on when the band is sick with a dangerous and sometimes deadly virus. This morning, she was working on a cartoon about this very subject.
“People are acting as if COVID is totally over,” Mann said.
As she toured the country, Mann said she saw very few masks in the crowd. As a lead singer, she couldn’t wear one. Only her keyboardist did the whole time.
“God bless him,” she said.
“I saw some comment like ‘why are musicians the only ones concerned about COVID because the rest of us have all moved on?’” she said. “Well I don’t know how you’re supposed to move on.”
Still, there is a next show to do, and there are canceled concerts to reschedule for the fall. Around that Mann has a long list of “little projects” for the summer. She’s cartooning, working on a musical, attending a design conference, painting, working on a longform podcast and fighting the endless fight for women’s health.
“I mean dude, there’s always going to be assholes in the world that you have to push back on,” Mann said. “It’s a frightening amount of it right now, but it’s always been the case. We just have to band together and do the right thing and push back.”
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