Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 42
Sun, Mar 10, 2013

“High on Sunday 51”
Aimee Mann


“♫ Let
me be

Many moons ago when I was living in Chicago, I remember the show; it was a special Valentines Day acoustic show by Aimee Mann; I bought the tickets as a gift to a former paramour. Ever since and because of that memorable show I have become a fan of Aimee Mann for life. I even rediscovered more gems like “Red Vines” and even this one from Lost in Space. I’ve always been fans of songs with days of the week and this one, besides Velvet Underground and Johnny Cash, is one of my favorite all time Sunday songs.

At first glance, one might think that Aimee Mann was a geek who’s love of the Sixties Sci-Fi series of the same name inspired the album title Lost in Space. But in reality, it was Crumb the documentary on comic book artist Robert Crumb that sparked the songs that became Lost in Space. In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Aimee Mann explained what was it about “Crumb” that specifically inspired Lost in Space when she explained, “The idea that art is compensation for something that’s lacking, or for a kind of trauma. It’s like losing your sight and your hearing becomes keener. It’s an adaptation. For me, I’ve often felt that if I was able to be articulate and be expressive in a normal way, maybe I wouldn’t write songs.” But it’s more than about the sake of art, you can hear in songs like “High on Sunday 51.
Aimee Mann

But more than just a tribute to Robert Crumb, Lost in Space and specifically “High on Sunday 51” has Mann is searching for some meaning within the light and shadow aura of her addicting lyrics as she explained, “It’s more a drive to really understand people. People are pretty fucked up, and I’m right along there with them. If my songs give people the impression that I’m emotionally disturbed, well — yeah, you’re right! At the same time, what makes a great song is not necessarily a page straight from your diary. Whatever you write about, whatever brought you to write about that topic, you also always have to apply that to yourself. So it might as well be about me, even if it’s not.
South By Southwest Festival Day 4

Although, Mann said she composed Lost in Space as a “real old fashioned long player. It’s a Long-Playing Record Album! It’s not just because I grew up with that — records that were good from beginning to end, records that people cared about, rather than just a loose collection of songs,” my favorite song has to be “High on Sunday 51;” it’s swampy, acoustic pop songs on the struggles with addiction. But is it about addiction drugs or love? When asked about the literal inspiration about songs like “High on Sunday 51” Aimee told, Salon.com, “I pull from a few different places, there’s always an element that is just from my own head. It’s often a combination of things that I’m reading about, and I always have an interest in anything that has to do with psychology. In the past few years I’ve been doing a lot of reading about addiction and alcoholism and that type of thing. Narcissistic personality disorder is another good one. The problem is that if I talk about where it comes from it sounds so dry and clinical.”

Mann fans might have been surprised to sing along to lyrics so dark on “High on Sunday 51, When asked by Barnes & Noble.com about the genesis of the double entendre like lyric of “Let me be your heroine,” Mann explained, “Now, that’s a line that I did not write because I collaborated [on that song] with a friend of mine. It was actually just an exercise. He was starting to write songs himself, he was looking for advice or critique, and he’d sent me these lyrics, which I really, really liked. So some of the lines, I said well, these lines are really great, but the idea is so dark, it’s so raw in a way, so you really would have to have music that underscores the seriousness of that. Because you have to take that kind of statement seriously, otherwise it sounds like somebody kidding around or being overdramatic. And the music he was working on didn’t really have that, so as an example I started playing some chords and came up with a melody that I thought was more [fitting]. And I made it really dark, like in a minor key — I don’t usually stay in a minor key for whole sections. So as an example, I came up with this music, and just really started to like it, even though I felt it was atypical for me because I was doing it for this sort of independent project. So I asked him if he minded if I kept working on it for my record.
2008 Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival - Day 4

If you were still curious and waiting for a more concrete meaning of High on Sunday 51’s “let me by your heroin” lyric, Mann explained, “Drugs are my shorthand; everybody understands drug addiction, certainly better than they understand obsessive-compulsive disorder or anorexia or gambling. My theory is that in all of them, it’s the compulsive behavior itself that’s mood-altering. It’s the same with relationships. The common thread is the need to focus and obsess. I’ve had relationships with the Awful Guy, where all you do is talk about how awful he is. The one thing you’re not doing is thinking about your own problems.”

We’ve all been there and nobody sings about lyrical aching like Aimee Mann. When talking to about the relationship aspect of “High on Sunday 51” to Barnes & Noble.com, Mann said, “I don’t know, maybe I just have a gallows humor. Because that song is really true: People really are like that. I totally know what that vibe is. I’ve seen that vibe; I’ve seen other people involved in that kind of thing. It just seems so true. And in a way I think it’s really funny because it’s so perfect.”
The 2005 South By South West Music Festival

Perfect is the sound of “High on Sunday 51;” I can still see Aimee on stage with her acoustic guitar crooning sweet and lustful songs on that magically Valentine show. I was amazed how Aimee Mann captured our attention, sprinkling anecdotes, lyrical secrets in between singing songs like “Wise Up.” Although, I was still a relative novice having fell for “Save Me,” from Magnolia and who doesn’t love “Voices Carry?” My former lover was the expert in everything Mann plus she knew every word by heart. When I would look over at her during the show, I could see her mouthing every lyric. Looking back, I’m still wondering if “High on Sunday 51” was about addiction to a drug or to a lover. Maybe it’s both, but the truth is no one sings about cravings chemical or otherwise better than Aimee Mann. Get hooked on the addictive sound of “High on Sunday 51.”