Patient Zero

Album: Mental Illness (2017)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Here, Aimee Mann sings about a young person who arrives in Hollywood and fails to find the success he was expecting. The song was inspired by the actor Andrew Garfield, whom the singer met at a party that she'd attended with musician husband Michael Penn. Mann explained to Billboard magazine:

    "It was before Spider-Man, and he had just come to Los Angeles and it was clear he did not feel like he fit in. I just had a moment of feeling like 'You know, I kind of worry about this guy!' Because I felt like he is a real artist and very sincere, and I think to be a real artist the way he is, you have to be a very vulnerable person. And I just worry about vulnerable people. It's not necessarily just his town, but in the world of big business, whatever that business is. I mean, he obviously did fine. But I think being famous is very difficult. It's a weird kind of trauma and I think it makes people crazy. If everybody around you is saying you're amazing and all your choices are great, there are no touchstones.

    The life of the super-famous has special requirements. It's a very rare person who can withstand it. My guess is that (Garfield) tried to have a career that's a little more artistic and not focused on franchises. But somehow I was inspired to write this story about someone who comes to Hollywood with the promise of being in this big movie, and he's maneuvered out of it.

    To me it's almost a bit of a happy ending, because it's like, this was never the place for you anyway. It's not the town for me. And that was influenced a little bit by Nathaniel West and the people who write about Los Angeles in this more noir category (about the city's) creepy underbelly."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Joe Elliott of Def Leppard

Joe Elliott of Def LeppardSongwriter Interviews

The Def Leppard frontman talks about their "lamentable" hit he never thought of as a single, and why he's juiced by his Mott The Hoople cover band.

Grunge Bands Quiz

Grunge Bands QuizMusic Quiz

If the name Citizen Dick means anything to you, there's a chance you'll get some of these right.

Neal Smith - "I'm Eighteen"

Neal Smith - "I'm Eighteen"They're Playing My Song

With the band in danger of being dropped from their label, Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith co-wrote the song that started their trek from horror show curiosity to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Randy Newman

Randy NewmanSongwriting Legends

Newman makes it look easy these days, but in this 1974 interview, he reveals the paranoia and pressures that made him yearn for his old 9-5 job.

Maxi Priest

Maxi PriestSongwriter Interviews

The British reggae legend tells the story of his #1 hit "Close To You," talks about his groundbreaking Shabba Ranks collaboration "Housecall," and discusses his latest project with Robin Trower.

Chris Fehn of Slipknot

Chris Fehn of SlipknotSongwriter Interviews

A drummer for one of the most successful metal bands of the last decade, Chris talks about what it's like writing and performing with Slipknot. Metal-neck is a factor.