I was that kid who bought Til Tuesday's debut album Voices Carry before the now-famous title track had even hit local radio airwaves. I was also that kid who bought the band's next album, Welcome Home, when the same folks who'd flipped for the band a year prior suddenly couldn't be bothered.
So, despite never having a hit single myself, I know a thing or two about the fickle nature of fandom from watching fortune both smile and frown upon the likes of singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, who, despite such career turbulence, remains a consistently dependable musical presence some 30+ years later.
Her discography stands not as a collection of trends chased with varying degrees of success, but, rather, as the work of an artist who, despite continually being expected to "deliver the hits", has stuck to her guns.
Her latest single, "Patient Zero", from her upcoming album Mental Illness (due March 31) unfolds like a good book you never expected to be re-reading so soon after finishing it and hints at the album from whence it came being yet another brilliant and unflinching exploration of the human psyche.
It was Steve Martin who so famously said "Comedy is not pretty", but it has been Aimee Mann who has proven that, deep down, nothing is pretty and that behind every smile lurks at least one demon.
In that realization that life is messy and that we humans are flawed by nature, there comes a certain solace that can look like resignation at times. Maybe it is. But in the hands of Aimee Mann, such subject matter becomes approachable, digestible, and maybe even understandable.
In the 12 years since The Forgotten Arm, a concept album that pulled no punches (!), but perhaps lacked the nuance of her best efforts, Mann has reworked and refined her approach on each successive album, leading this writer to believe that, come March 31, we'll all finally be ready to talk about Mental Illness.