“Voices Carry”: ‘Til Tuesday’s Hitchcock-inspired mini-drama music video was an MTV favorite

By on August 17, 2017

Night Flight’s “Take Off to New American Music” — which originally aired on May 7, 1986 — featured ‘Til Tuesday’s video for “Voices Carry,” which earned Aimee Mann and her fellow Boston new wavers an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist.

You’ll find this episode included in our collection of Night Flight “Take Off” episodes, streaming over on Night Flight Plus.

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Read more about “Voices Carry” and ‘Til Tuesday below.

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‘Til Tuesday formed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1982, reportedly taking their name from a 1967 song by David Bowie (“Love You ‘Til Tuesday”).

Willowy, wild-eyed Aimee Mann also thought ‘Til Tuesday evoked a romantic mood.

She was in her late teens and just out of high school when she left her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, departing for Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where she studied bass and music theory.

Mann lasted a couple of semesters at the college, and she ended up fronting an artsy indie rock band called the Young Snakes, who she has said “had weirdness upon weirdness,” admitting that the band “sounded like a bunch of noise.”

She eventually grew tired of the underground rock club scene, and she eventually ditched the Snakes and began writing love songs with local guitarist named Robert Holmes.

Together, they ended up putting together a new band along with drummer Michael Hausman (Mann’s live-in lover at the time) and keyboardist Joey Pesce, in late ’82.

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‘Til Tuesday caught their first break after winning a “battle of the bands” radio contest, when their song “Love in a Vacuum” took first place in Boston’s WBCN “1983 Rock & Roll Rumble,” beating out other local acts like the Del Fuegos, Jerry’s Kids and Lizzie Borden & the Axes.

By now, a few of their songs were getting airplay in the Boston area, and they signed with Epic Records, because, as keyboardist Pesce once told Spin magazine in 1986, “They seemed the most down-to-earth and didn’t want Aimee in leather and have her swallow the microphone.”

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‘Til Tuesday scored a major hit with the first single, the title track from their synth-soaked debut album, 1985’s Voices Carry, which was, according to producer Mike Thorne on his Stereo Society blog, was “originally written and sung by Aimee as if to a woman…The record company was predictably unhappy with such lyrics.”

Essentially the song was about being in a relationship and realizing that the person you’re involved with is unhappy that you’re changing.

Epic Records labelmate Cyndi Lauper reportedly heard their original demo, with its lesbian-themed lyrics, and said that she’d like to record the song herself, if the band would agree to not release it on their debut (they wisely declined).

The band turned to director D.J. Webster to create a memorable video that would appeal to MTV audiences, and he came up with a mini-drama scenario in which Aimee Man has a creepy, wifebeater-wearing boyfriend who isn’t happy with the fact that his girlfriend seems to be embracing “punk” fashion (he’s really got some kind of hang-up about her earrings and her dyed-blonde, spikey rattail hairdo).

The boyfriend — played by actor Cully Holland, whose real name was actually Kevin Joseph Gallery — seems to really have some hang-ups about his girlfriend fitting in to his upper-class corporate lifestyle, and he resorts to being physically rough with her, which gives the video a kind of dark, oppressive vibe.

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According to Mann, Webster had wanted to insert a scene inspired by one of the memorable scenes in of his favorite movies, Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1956 thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much, having Aimee Mann make a scene in the middle of a theater during a classical music performance; in the film, Doris Day screams during a symphony to thwart an attempted murder, but Webster has Mann singing the words to “Voices Carry” aloud, then standing up during the concert, which embarrasses the boyfriend and annoys pretty much everyone sitting near them.

This scene was shot at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester, Massachusetts, standing in for New York’s Carnegie Hall, but a snowstorm outside had kept many acting extras away from the production, which is one reason why Webster’s camera doesn’t pull back too far, since Mann, Holland and a handful of extras were the only ones seated in the snowed-in theatre at the time.

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Holland appeared in just one movie before his death on July 29, 1991, in Sacramento (sources vary as to the cause of death, with some reporting that Holland died from HIV/Aids, while others report that he committed suicide).

“Voices Carry” reached #8 in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (#14 Rock), and on the strength of the single alone their first album went gold, charting at #19 in the U.S. and selling 600,000 copies.

The downbeat music video would end up winning them the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist and ended up in heavy rotation on the channel’s programs.

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‘Til Tuesday — Michael Hausman, Aimee Mann, Robert Holmes, producer Rhett Davies, and Joey Pesce, recording Welcome Home at Bearsville Studios, Woodstock, NY

‘Til Tuesday recorded two additional albums, Welcome Home (1986) and Everything’s Different Now (1988), and Mann ended up touring under the ‘Til Tuesday name with various session players before pulling the plug on the band in 1989, thereafter embarking on a solo career (and doing a little acting on the side too).

Have a look at our “Take Off to New American Music” — featuring videos by Run-D.M.C., R.E.M., Los Lobos, the Long Ryders, Lone Justice and other artists — which is included in our “Take Off” collection, and you’ll find them streaming over on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.