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If there's one artist who's the least likely to release a Christmas album, it's gotta be Aimee Mann, who's built an entire career out of penning songs about heroin addiction and miscellaneous other forms of emotional agony. But that's just what she did last year, and with the Aimee Mann Christmas Show, she and a parade of friends have single-handedly ressurected the variety show by hitting the road serving up holiday standards alongside comedy routines. We recently chatted with Mann about what to expect this year and what the holiday season means to her.
Westword: Is it safe to say Christmas is your favorite holiday? You seem more like a Halloween girl.
Aimee Mann: Well, Christmas is always good because there are guaranteed presents. People forget your birthday, but it's impossible to forget Christmas.
Does it still mean the same to you today, or is it that constant struggle to recapture some of the wonder you had about it when you were young?
Yeah, I think a bit of it is a struggle to keep it fun because, for an adult, it quickly becomes very stressful. Not having time to do shopping, and I'm going on tour. In fact, I should be shopping right now!
Variety shows feel like something from our childhoods, don't you think?
Absolutely. It's nostalgic in a real way, but also ironic. It's dopey, but fun nevertheless. It's like playing charades: Part of you always thinks it's nerdy, but part of you thinks it's fun.
You've built your career around a fascination with the darker side of life, like addiction. Does becoming the arbiter of Christmas good will after all that put a grin on your face?
I know people think I'm depressing, a dark and melancholy person, but I'm not, and I do think that contrast is kind of fun.
This is a three-week tour. How Christmasy can you actually feel by December 25th after all that?
It puts you really into the Christmas mood. You really get Christmas spirit singing these songs. You just have to let yourself go over to it. I think a lot of people just try to avoid the whole thing, but, I think, if you immerse yourself in the music, you'd have a much better time.
Everyone has a Christmas song that seems to exist simply to torture them. What's yours?
That I hate? "Frosty the Snowman." If I never hear that song again — and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." You start singing one and somehow you end up singing the other.
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