Thursday, May 01, 2008

the festival of books: aimee mann and joe henry

I hereby cast my vote for future festivals to offer at least one of these songwriter panels, because this was thoroughly enjoyable. Steve Almond served as moderator/interviewer, and while Aimee Mann and Joe Henry sometimes seemed like they were annoyed by his questions, he did have a couple funny moments. He welcomed the crowd by saying, "Nothing says rock and roll like 10:30 on a Sunday morning," and then when someone's baby cried, he said, "Oh good, someone brought a child," thereby driving mother and baby from the room. In between questions, Mann and Henry performed.

The interview covered topics such as Mann's upcoming release @#%&*! Smilers, "Jacob Marley's Chain," monologues, adopting a character, Jackson Browne, tear-stained dairy pages, giving no points for truthfulness, unraveling the sweater, "Short Man's Room," The Scout, Fellini's suggestion to create a character and find out what they have to tell you, music sounding like the story it's about, scaffolding, pulling potatoes from the ground, e-mailing poetry without explanation, pissy rants, tripping into an open manhole, Roseanne Cash, equal parts despair and hope, "Our Song," get out of jail free cards, book offers, graphic novels, the secret society of poets, early confessional phases, emotional truths, placing a premium on cleverness, the song junkyard, the organ donor program, John Doe, and the Cuban revolution.

Aimee Mann: "As a songwriter, if you mention four details, you're considered literary."