Desert Island Singles: “That’s Just What You Are” by Aimee Mann (1994)

Image from amazon

I just featured Michael Penn in “Desert Island Singles,” so thought I would also feature his lovely spouse.

“That’s Just What You Are” sounds sly and witty, even when Mann’s aggravation is getting the best of her (after all, the song’s key line, closing out the second verse, is “Would it kill you just to try to be a nicer guy?” — which, depending on how much irony one wishes to read into it, can either be seen as a gentle nudge or a cutting barb). The tune is also the perfect match for the lyrics, hum-along pop that also wears its smarts on its sleeve (and has a dark undertow in those minor-key piano breaks). – Mark Deming,

Image from

Image from

Back in the day of legendary Minnesota radio station KJ 104, this song was in very hot rotation. Rumor has it that it was later used in the TV series “Melrose Place,” which I never watched.

The harmony vocals by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze provide a welcome smartass note. And the piano fades in and out like a dream you can’t wake up from.

I won’t fall for the oldest
Trick in the book
So don’t sit there and think
You’re off of the hook
By saying there is no use changing
‘Cause that’s just what you are

Acting steady
Always ready to defend your fears
What’s the matter with the truth
Did I offend your ears
By suggesting that a change
Might be a thing to try
Would it kill you just to
Try and be a nicer guy

It’s not like you would lose
Some critical piece
If somehow you moved
Point A to point B
Maintaining there is no point changing
‘Cause that’s just what you are

So maybe you’re right
Nobody can take
Something older then time
And hope you could make it better
That would be a mistake
So take it just so far
‘Cause that’s just what you are

Sleepwalking man
It’s a danger to wake you
Even when it is apparent
Where your actions will take you
And that’s just what you are

2 Comments on “Desert Island Singles: “That’s Just What You Are” by Aimee Mann (1994)”

  1. […] Around” by Jimmy Rankin (2001) 9/18/12: “All I Want” by Toad The Wet Sprocket (1992) 9/16/12: “That’s Just What You Are” by Aimee Mann (1994) 9/16/12: “No Myth” by Michael Penn (1989) 9/6/12: “Happy Hour” by The Housemartins (1986) […]

  2. […] two of my favorites. As it played along, though, I also heard a great similarity to Norah Jones and Aimee Mann. I was reluctant to pick up this, her second album, fearing there would be no way it could live up […]

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