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Anatomy of a Mixed Tape, Track the Fourth

August 18, 2006

4. Stupid Thing—Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann - Whatever - Stupid Thing

Aimee Mann’s songs are full of traps and landmines, double-dealings and betrayals. “Stupid Thing” especially, from her first solo album, 1993’s Whatever, is a good example of this, with its many dependent clauses stacked shakily one on top the other.

Nothing was saving our day
There was nothing to say
But you said something anyway
Claiming I stepped out of line
Which forced you to leave me
As if that idea was mine

And the qualifiers: “but,” “which,” “as if”—all serve to accurately convey that maddening, cat’s cradle-entangled feel to the end of certain relationships, where nothing right can be said. But Ms. Mann lifts things, albeit resignedly, with the worn-out chorus:

Oh, you stupid thing
Speaking of course as your dear departed
Oh, you stupid thing
It wasn’t me that you outsmarted
You stupid thing
Stopping it all before it even started

It’s not vicious, it’s not (too) bitter: it’s just “oh, you stupid thing.”

Another thing I love about Ms. Mann, and that’s demonstrated well in this song, is how good she is at internal rhyme—the “speaking of course as your dear departed” line stands out in particular, making the song feel woven in and out of its self, mixed-up and labyrinthine.

NB: Later in this “mixed tape” another Aimee Mann song, featuring the word “June,” will be reviewed.

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