what's with the anchor tattoo?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/08/20 18:30 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/08/20/454110.aspx

I have had a few people ask me for a little of the back story here....

You see, track 9 of Aimee Mann's new album (The Forgotten Arm) is entitled 'That's How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart' and the first verse goes something like this:

I drew a picture of you
You and your anchor tattoo
And saw the face that I knew
Covered in shame
You drew a bird that was here
A kind of sweet chanticleer
But with a terrible fear
That the cage couldn't tame

That's how I knew this story would break my heart
When you wrote it

In the concept album, this is kind of a low point for our hero John and heroine Caroline, as the lyrics would kind of indicate -- they have gone their separate ways (several songs ago) and it looks kind of hopeless as a romance (things get a little better later, but clearly not in this song).

Anyway, it turns out that Aimee got a large anchor tattoo on her right arm. This was just before her show at the Fillmore last weekend (the tattoo was just 'one of the things she did' in San Fransisco that day, before the show).

She was wearing blue jeans and a white tank top, so it was hard to miss the tattoo (I was behind the curtain, stage left, so I only got a few glimpses of it, when she was turning to switch guitars between songs; people who were on the other side of her probably got a better view).

There was wide speculation that it was not real, but people have since then insisted that it is.

It was kind of hard to understand the purpose of getting the tattoo -- the song, which I did like, is not one that is in the regular set they have been doing during the tour, and by report is has only been performed once in all those shows. And it is hard to fit it in with the themes of the album when it is sitting on her arm, although the fact that she actually does some boxing now confuses roles a bit. Perhaps that is why she did it, although it seems like a pretty huge step -- much bigger than just wearing a jacket and tie to shows, as she has been known to do. But she has a different look now, during shows. And you can't change out of a tattoo, after all -- so what happens the next time the look changes?

On the other hand it is really not up to people who listen to music to understand everything the artists do, so that really is okay.

Now when I hear the song which was formerly one I liked a lot, wondering about the tattoo kind of distracts from the music itself (others have said the same thing, so I know it is not just me). Maybe it is to remind her of the song or some special meaning behind it, but maybe it is for the best that she is not playing at shows, certainly the ones she wears tank tops to!

# gp on 25 Aug 2005 2:47 AM:

I was at the Fillmore show and recall that prior to introducing her tattoo she mentioned that she "did something that people do when they go to San Francisco." She also mentioned that the anchor design was in honor of her father who was a sailor.

I'm only guessing here, based on my own personal experience (which, granted, has nothing to do with Aimee's), but I would imagine she had decided previously to get a tattoo and had even settled pretty much on the design. While in San Francisco she was inspired to do it.

Just my thoughts having been at the show...

# Michael S. Kaplan on 25 Aug 2005 9:41 AM:

If you think about it, that may even have been the inspiration for the line in the song, too....

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