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Aimee Mann, Billy Collins dish on each other

  • Billy Collins, former U.S. poet laureate, and indie music star Aimee Mann, an Oscar-nominated songwriter, visit the Wells Fargo Center tonight for an evening of poetry and music. (AP FILE)

Aimee Mann and Billy Collins first met at the White House.

She, the tall, blond singer of literary proportion and often tragic tone, still laughs at the thought: “We met at the White House, which is a sentence I may never utter again.”

He, the poet of everyday life and the wondrous world around us, would like a revision: “I'd like to say we met at White Castle having a burger one night, but we actually met at the White House, which sounds like a big residential name-drop.”

Billy Collins And Aimee Mann At Wells Fargo Center


Hosted by President Barack Obama in 2011, the salon tribute to American poetry landed all over the map: Steve Martin was there with his banjo, Common with his street rhymes and Alison Knowles with her Fluxus performance art.

But somehow the two to really hit it off were the 53-year-old L.A. singer and the 73-year-old East Coast poet.

Apropos for the setting, Mann sang “Save Me,” one of the songs she's most famous for, along with “Voices Carry,” the 1980s hit from 'Til Tuesday, the band in which she sang.

Collins, the former U.S. Poet Laureate, made the Obamas laugh with “Lanyard,” a deceptively simple poem about much more than braiding plastic strands at summer camp.

As performers are wont to do, they talked about performing together one day. But, unlike most performers, they actually meant it.

A few phone calls later and now they're embarking on an unlikely three-date mini-tour up the coast from Malibu to Santa Barbara to Santa Rosa.

Before they share a stage at the Wells Fargo Center tonight, we asked each one to talk about the other.

Billy Collins on Aimee Mann: 'Edgy and casual'

Q: What was your first impression of Aimee Mann?

Billy Collins: Well, she's very pretty. I'm afraid that's my first male impression. But brushing that aside, I like how she fits her music. Her music feels both edgy and casual. I like the work she does with minimal instrumentation, where her voice is in the foreground. It's a very winning voice, very seductive and intense. And at the same time, it's very relaxed.

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