Song of the Day #4,183: ‘Poor Judge’ – Aimee Mann

Best Albums of the 2010s – #9
Mental Illness – Aimee Mann (2017)

Aimee Mann did not have a very productive decade. She released Charmer in 2012, then a record paired up with alt-rocker Ted Leo in 2014, before wrapping things up with Mental Illness in 2017.

I can complain about the frequency, but not the content, especially Mental Illness, which ranks among the best releases of her career.

When Mann announced the album, she described it as her “saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they’re-all-waltzes-so-be-it-record.” I knew from that moment that I would love it, because it is Mann’s sad, slow, acoustic songs that have always moved me the most.

I know frequent commenter Dana ribs Mann for not varying her sound much, but I think I share a lot of the blame for that perception. It’s Mann’s melancholy bruisers I post again and again because I love them so. Charmer was a very upbeat and poppy album but I posted only three of its tracks, including one of the only downbeat ballads.

So yes, Mann is versatile when she wants to be, but I don’t care if she ever picks up another electric guitar. When she delivers the beautiful wrist-slitting goods like she does on this album, I am all in!

Falling for you was always falling up
Leather books and surplus government chairs
I rose like smoke, or the steam from your cup
A wave of heat where the lighter flares

You might have found some other reason
To burn me like a tissue screen
My heart is a poor judge
And it harbors an old grudge

Falling for you was a walk off a cliff
A dream of a car with the brake lines cut
The only way you can stop it is if
You turn around, keep the windows shut

You might have found some other reason
To leave me in that dark ravine
My heart is a poor judge
And it harbors an old grudge

And I can see your light on
Calling me back to make the same mistake again

And I’ll say no, when you ask me, no, when you ask me, no when you ask again
‘Cause I won’t let it past me, won’t let it past me, won’t let it past til I see that I’m last and then…

Falling for you was a last ditch plan
You sized me up with your thumb on the scale
I came up short, but you do what you can
The hammer’s nothing without the nail

You might have had some other reason
To lead me to the guillotine
But your heart is a poor judge
And it harbors an old grudge

And I can see your light on
Calling me back to make the same mistake again

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,183: ‘Poor Judge’ – Aimee Mann

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I usually point out Mann’s lack of musical variation (as well as other melancholy faves of your like Elliott Smith) in response to your similar criticism of artists like the Indigo Girls, Tracy Chapman and James Taylor. In each case, I contend the artist has greater variation than you give credit for. I guess for both of us a deeper dive into the whole discography would reveal greater variety-though we probably would still end up gravitating to the select albums and styles to which we were drawn in the first place

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