World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Michael Penn

Article Id: WHEBN0000384703
Reproduction Date:

Title: Michael Penn  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Leo Penn, Chris Penn, Sean Penn, Boogie Nights, Randell Kirsch
Collection: 1958 Births, American Alternative Rock Musicians, American Film Score Composers, American Male Singers, American Male Singer-Songwriters, American Male Songwriters, American People of Irish Descent, American People of Italian Descent, American People of Lithuanian-Jewish Descent, American People of Russian-Jewish Descent, American Power Pop Groups, American Record Producers, American Rock Bass Guitarists, American Rock Guitarists, American Rock Singers, American Rock Singer-Songwriters, American Rock Songwriters, Living People, Musicians from California, Musicians from New York City, People from Greenwich Village, People from Los Angeles County, California, Singers from California, Songwriters from New York
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Michael Penn

Michael Penn
Born (1958-08-01) August 1, 1958
Greenwich Village, New York City, US
Genres Alternative Pop/Rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, composer, musician,
Instruments Guitar, piano, bass, vocals
Years active 1989–present
Labels RCA, Sony, Mimeograph
Associated acts Doll Congress

Michael Penn (born August 1, 1958) is an American singer, songwriter and composer. He is the eldest son of actor/director Leo Penn and actress Eileen Ryan, and the brother of actors Sean Penn and Chris Penn.


  • Career 1
  • Personal life 2
  • Discography 3
    • Solo albums 3.1
    • Singles 3.2
    • With Gabriele Morgan and Doll Congress/Doll Congress 3.3
    • Appearances 3.4
    • Film Scores 3.5
    • Acting 3.6
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Michael Penn is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and film composer.[1] Prior to the release of his 1989 debut album March, Penn was a member of the Los Angeles band Doll Congress, and had appeared as an extra on a few television series, including St. Elsewhere.

March, particularly the first single, "No Myth," brought Penn attention, as well as the 1990 MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist. Penn's follow-up albums Free-for-All (1992), Resigned (1997), MP4: Days Since a Lost Time Accident (2000), Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 (2005) and Palms and Runes, Tarot and Tea (2007) weren't able to match the commercial success of March, although critics continued to praise his songcraft.

It was with Free-for-All that Penn faced the specter of the one-hit wonder. The album, while praised by critics, was not as successful as Penn's debut, though it had more than its share of supporters. Rolling Stone called it "stunning"[2] and CMJ wrote that the album "exhausts any doubts" about whether March was a fluke.[3]

In Vox magazine, critic Gary Leboff acknowledged that Penn could be "pig-headedly uncommercial," but, he conceded, "the payoff is sublime". Leboff continues, "His freeform songwriting creates tracks of startling shape and originality, offering literate reflections on the human condition..."

Penn collaborated with the renowned surrealist animators The Brothers Quay on "Long Way Down (Look What The Cat Drug In)," which found a home not on MTV but in film festivals around the country, winning awards along the way.

He has worked extensively creating original music for film; among his first work in this field (if not the first) was for 1993's Tales From the Vienna Woods. He scored two movies released by Paul Thomas Anderson in 1997, Hard Eight and Boogie Nights; he also appears in the latter in a cameo role playing Nick, a recording engineer. During the editing of the film, Anderson directed a music video with Penn for "Try" from Resigned (the video can be found on the Boogie Nights DVD). Other films scored by Penn include Alan Cumming's first two directorial efforts, The Anniversary Party and Suffering Man's Charity;[4] American Teen, Sunshine Cleaning;[5] the documentary The Comedians of Comedy; and The Last Kiss. In 2003, he was nominated for a DVDX Award for Best Original Score in a DVD Premiere Movie for Melvin Goes to Dinner.[6]

Penn has produced recordings for Aimee Mann, The Wallflowers and Liz Phair.

In August 2005, Penn released Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 on his own Mimeograph Records label. Its songs are set against the background of post-World War II Los Angeles; Penn said he chose the year because of several notable events that took place then, including the passage of the National Security Act and the invention of the transistor.[7] The album was reissued by Legacy Recordings in April 2007 with bonus tracks from a KCRW session.[8]

The reissue came in conjunction with Legacy's release of Palms and Runes, Tarot and Tea: A Michael Penn Collection, a compilation that includes several alternate versions and previously unreleased songs. Penn said his goal in compiling, ordering tracks for and producing Palms and Runes was to "make it feel like an album" in its own right.

In late 2009, Penn composed the music for the film That Evening Sun.[9]

In 2012 Penn began work as the composer for the HBO TV show Girls.[10]

In January 2013, the "Girls VOL.1" soundtrack was released on iTunes. The album contained a new song by Michael Penn titled "On Your Way", which was featured in the finale of Season 1.

He also joined the crew of Showtime's Masters of Sex in 2013 as series composer. The show's pilot episode was initially set to be scored by Thomas Newman, but this did not come to fruition and Penn scored both the pilot and the rest of the series.

Personal life

Penn met fellow singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, and during the recording of her album I'm with Stupid (to which Penn contributed), the two struck up a friendship, which blossomed into romance and their December 29, 1997 marriage. Together with manager Michael Hausman they formed United Musicians, an independent music collective founded on "the principle that every artist should be able to retain copyright ownership of the work he or she has created and that this ownership is the basis for artistic strength and true independence." Penn and Mann live in Los Angeles.


Solo albums

  • March (1989) US #31
  • Free-For-All (1992) US #160
  • Resigned (1997)
  • MP4: Days Since a Lost Time Accident (2000)
  • Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 (independent release) (2005)
  • Cinemascope (collection of film score tracks) (2005)
  • Palms and Runes, Tarot and Tea: A Michael Penn Collection (2007)
  • Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 (Legacy reissue) (2007)


Year Title Chart positions Album
US Hot 100 US Modern Rock UK
1989 "No Myth" 13 4 March
1990 "This & That" 53 10
"Brave New World" 20
1992 "Long Way Down (Look What the Cat Drug In)" 14 Free-For-All
"Seen the Doctor" 5
1997 "Try" Resigned
"Me Around"
"Out of My Hands"
2000 "Lucky One" MP4

With Gabriele Morgan and Doll Congress/Doll Congress

  • Buried Treasure (5-song EP) (1981)
  • Doll Congress 12" (1983)
  • "Give Up Your Ghost" (sung by Morgan) and "I Will Be Around" (sung by Penn) appear on the soundtrack to Welcome to 18 (1986)


  • "Retribution" (guitar solo) on Randell Kirsch, LuAnn Olson and Chris Hickey's Show of Hands (I.R.S. 1989)
  • "Body and Soul?" (backing vocals) on Thelonious Monster's Beautiful Mess (1992)
  • "It's Not Safe" (guitar, solo guitar) on Aimee Mann's I'm With Stupid (1995)
  • "Christmastime", with Aimee Mann on Just Say Noel (1996)
  • "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love", with Mark Mothersbaugh on The Moog Cookbook's Ye Olde Space Bande (1997)
  • "Macy Day Parade" on Godzilla: The Album (1998)
  • "Reason to Believe", with Aimee Mann on Badlands: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska (2000)
  • "Wise Up" (Produced) on Aimee Mann's Bachelor No. 2 (2000)
  • "How Am I Different", "Susan" (backing vocals) on Aimee Mann's Bachelor No. 2 (2000)
  • "Red Vines" (slide guitar) on Aimee Mann's Bachelor No. 2 (2000)
  • "Satellite" (guitar feedback, backing vocals) on Aimee Mann's Bachelor No. 2 (2000)
  • "Driving Sideways" (electric guitar, backing vocals) on Aimee Mann's Bachelor No. 2 (2000)
  • "Susan" (guitar), on Aimee Mann's Bachelor No. 2 (2000)
  • Co-produced The Wallflowers' (Breach) (2000)
  • "Two of Us", with Aimee Mann on I Am Sam (2001)
  • "It's Sweet", "Little Digger" (produced, recorded by, guitar, bass) on Liz Phair's self-titled fourth album (2003)
  • "Red Light Fever", "Take A Look", "Friend of Mine" (produced, recorded by, guitar) on Liz Phair (2003)

Film Scores


  • St. Elsewhere (playing a lab technician, as an extra) (1985)
  • Boogie Nights (Nick, an engineer) (1997)


  1. ^ [1], AMG.
  2. ^ No. 4 and counting Critically acclaimed, commercially snubbed, Michael Penn tries again, CNN Interactive
  3. ^ Michael Penn: Free-For-All, CMJ Review
  4. ^ Glucksman, Mary. Five new films in postproduction, Filmmaker Magazine. Spring 2006.
  5. ^ Michael Penn Filmography, Yahoo! Movies.
  6. ^ DVD Exclusive Awards: 2003, IMDB.
  7. ^ in Stores August 2Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947Michael Penn's Much Anticipated , press release. 2005-05-04.
  8. ^ Michael Penn, Morning Becomes Eclectic, KCRW. 2005-10-07.
  9. ^ "ThatEveningSun". ThatEveningSun. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  10. ^

External links

  • Michael official site
  • Bunker Hill fan site
  • United Musicians
  • MySpace page
  • Discogs page
  • Michael Penn at the Internet Movie Database
  • Michael Penn at AllMusic
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.