Wise Up

Aimee Mann

Song Review by Denise Sullivan

Aimee Mann's downbeat ballad "Wise Up" bears the distinction of having been prominently placed in two '90s films: Jerry Maguire and Magnolia. Even more interesting is the fact that instead of being used as a title theme or as incidental music, two different directors chose to use the song right smack in the middle of their films to underscore two very different themes. Beginning with a piano played by Benmont Tench (who's joined by Jon Brion on chamberlain with Michael Penn on background vocals), the song holds a who's-who of L.A. session people; it's held down by an unusual percussive sound. As it unfolds, Mann's dramatic and understated vocal becomes the song's most prominent feature. Originally penned in 1996 and used for director Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire, director Paul Thomas Anderson borrowed it for his soundtrack to Magnolia, much of which was scored by Mann. "Wise Up" was played during Magnolia's much-talked-about sequence in which each of the film's main characters sing along. Crowe may have subconsciously borrowed that idea for his follow-up to Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, in which his characters performed the same trick to the tune of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer"; more precisely, both directors were probably inspired by the plays of Dennis Potter and the Hollywood musicials of the past. Coincidences and tangents aside, it will be interesting to see where the song "Wise Up" ends up next.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Jerry Maguire 1996
Original Soundtrack
Epic Soundtrax / Sony Music Distribution 3:28
Magnolia [Original Soundtrack] 1999 Reprise 3:31
Ultimate Collection 2000 Hip-O 3:27