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Michael Daniel Penn (born August 1, 1958) is an American singer-songwriter and
composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classical music in any form, including vocal music (for a Singing, singer or choir), instrumental mus ...
. He is noted for the 1989 single "
No Myth "No Myth" is a song by rock singer Michael Penn from his debut album ''March (Michael Penn album), March''. Released as his debut single in the fall of 1989, the song became Penn's only top 40 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, ''Billboard'' Hot ...
", a top 20 hit in the US and successful in several other countries.


Early life

Penn was born in Greenwich Village, New York City. He is the first son of actor and director
Leo Penn Leonard Francis Penn (August 27, 1921 – September 5, 1998) was an American actor and director and the father of musician Michael Penn and actors Sean Penn Sean Justin Penn (born August 17, 1960) is an American actor, director, screenwrit ...
and actress
Eileen Ryan Eileen Ryan (born Eileen Annucci, October 16, 1927) is an American actress. She is the widow of actor and director Leo Penn, and the mother of actors Sean Penn and Chris Penn and singer Michael Penn. Life and career Ryan was born in New York C ...
, and the brother of actors
Sean Penn Sean Justin Penn (born August 17, 1960) is an American actor, director, screenwriter, and producer. He has won two Academy Award for Best Actor, Academy Awards, for his roles in the mystery drama ''Mystic River (film), Mystic River'' (2003) an ...

Sean Penn
and
Chris Penn Christopher Shannon Penn (October 10, 1965 – January 24, 2006) was an American actor. Noted as a skilled character actor from a prominent acting dynasty, he was Typecasting (acting), typically cast as a tough character, featured as a villain or ...
. He is of
Lithuanian-Jewish Lithuanian Jews or Litvaks are Jews with roots in the territory of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania (present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, the northeastern Suwałki Region , Suwałki and Białystok regions of Poland, as well as some areas ...
(paternal) and
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britai ...
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the people of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps ...
(maternal) descent.


Career

Michael Penn is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and film composer. Prior to the release of his 1989 debut album ''
March March is the third month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days ...
'', Penn was a member of the Los Angeles band Doll Congress. Penn was one of two musical guests, as a solo artist on ''
Saturday Night Live ''Saturday Night Live'' (also known as ''SNL'') is an American late-night live television sketch comedy Sketch comedy comprises a series of short, amusing scenes or vignettes, called "sketches", commonly between one and ten minutes long, ...

Saturday Night Live
'' October 24, 1987, with his brother Sean hosting. Penn had also appeared as an
extra Extra or Xtra may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Film * The Extra (1962 film), ''The Extra'' (1962 film), a Mexican film * The Extra (2005 film), ''The Extra'' (2005 film), an Australian film Literature * Extra (newspaper), ''Extra'' ( ...
on a few television series, including '' St. Elsewhere''. ''March'', particularly the first single, "
No Myth "No Myth" is a song by rock singer Michael Penn from his debut album ''March (Michael Penn album), March''. Released as his debut single in the fall of 1989, the song became Penn's only top 40 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, ''Billboard'' Hot ...
", brought Penn attention, as well as the 1990
MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist The MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist has been given out since the first annual MTV Video Music Awards The MTV Video Music Awards (commonly abbreviated as the VMAs) is an award show presented by the cable channel MTV MTV (origin ...
. Penn's follow-up albums ''
Free-for-All Free for All may refer to: * Free for All (film), ''Free for All'' (film), a 1949 American comedy film * Free for All (The Prisoner), "Free for All" (The Prisoner), a 1967 episode of the British television series ''The Prisoner'' * 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 #REDIRECT One-hit wonder A one-hit wonder is any entity that achieves mainstream popularity, often for only one piece of work, and becomes known among the general public solely for that momentary success. The term is most commonly used in regard ...
. 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 ''Rolling Stone'' is an American monthly magazine that focuses on music, politics, and popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish ...
'' called it "stunning" and ''CMJ'' wrote that the album "exhausts any doubts" about whether ''March'' was a fluke. In ''
Vox Vox (Latin, 'voice') may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Fictional characters * Vox (DC Universe character), Mal Duncan * Vox, several characters in the anime series ''Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne'' * Gleeman Vox, from the ''Ratchet & C ...
'' 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 Stephen and Timothy Quay ( ; born June 17, 1947) are American identical twin brothers and stop-motion animation, stop-motion animators who are better known as the Brothers Quay or Quay Brothers. They were also the recipients of the 1998 Drama Desk ...
on "Long Way Down (Look What the Cat Drug In)", which found a home not only on
MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of th ...

MTV
but in film festivals around the country. He has worked extensively creating original music for film. He scored
Paul Thomas Anderson Paul Thomas Anderson (born June 26, 1970) is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He developed an interest in filmmaking from a young age. He made his feature-film debut with ''Hard Eight (film), Hard Eight'' (1996). He found cr ...
's films '' Hard Eight'' (1996) and ''
Boogie Nights ''Boogie Nights'' is a 1997 American period drama A historical drama (also period drama, costume drama, and period piece) is a work set in a past time period, usually used in the context of film and television. Historical drama includes histor ...
'' (1997); he also appears in the latter in a
cameo Cameo or CAMEO may refer to: * Cameo appearance, a brief appearance of a known figure in a film or television show * Cameo (carving), a method of carving, making use of layers of different colours, or an item made with such a method Music * Ca ...
role as a recording engineer. During the editing of the film, Anderson directed a music video with Penn for "Try (Michael Penn song), 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''; ''American Teen (film), American Teen'', ''Sunshine Cleaning''; the documentary ''The Comedians of Comedy''; and ''The Last Kiss (2006 film), 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''. 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 of 1947, National Security Act and the invention of the transistor. The album was reissued by Legacy Recordings in April 2007 with bonus tracks from a KCRW session. 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''. In 2012, Penn began work as the composer for the HBO TV show ''Girls (TV series), Girls''. 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 (TV channel), 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. In 2018, he joined two new TV series as a composer - ''Good Girls (TV series), Good Girls'' on NBC and ''Here and Now (2018 TV series), Here and Now'' on HBO. In 2020, Penn released a new single, "A Revival". It was his first non-soundtrack work in 15 years.


Personal life

Penn met fellow singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, and during the recording of her album ''I'm with Stupid (album), I'm with Stupid'' (to which Penn contributed), the two struck up a friendship, which blossomed into romance and their subsequent marriage on December 29, 1997. 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. His niece (his brother Sean's daughter) is actress Dylan Penn.


Discography


Solo albums

Studio albums *''
March March is the third month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days ...
'' (1989) Billboard Top 200, US #31, ARIA Charts, AUS #50, Sverigetopplistan, SWE #27 *''
Free-for-All Free for All may refer to: * Free for All (film), ''Free for All'' (film), a 1949 American comedy film * Free for All (The Prisoner), "Free for All" (The Prisoner), a 1967 episode of the British television series ''The Prisoner'' * Free-for-All ( ...
'' (1992) US #160 *''Resigned (album), Resigned'' (1997) *''MP4: Days Since a Lost Time Accident'' (2000) *''Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947'' (independent release) (2005) *''Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947'' (Legacy reissue) (2007)


Compilation albums

*''Cinemascope'' (collection of film score tracks) (2005) *''Palms and Runes, Tarot and Tea: A Michael Penn Collection'' (2007)


Singles


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)


Appearances

*"Retribution" (guitar solo) on Randell Kirsch, LuAnn Olson and Chris Hickey (singer-songwriter), Chris Hickey's Show of Hands (I.R.S. 1989) *"Body and Soul?" (backing vocals) on Thelonious Monster's ''Beautiful Mess'' (1992) *"Weeds" on the tribute album ''Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams'' (1993) *"It's Not Safe" (guitar, solo guitar) on Aimee Mann's ''I'm with Stupid (album), 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 Liz Phair (album), self-titled fourth album (2003) *"Red Light Fever", "Take A Look", "Friend of Mine" (produced, recorded by, guitar) on ''Liz Phair'' (2003)


Film scores

*''Tales From The Vienna Woods'' (1993) *'' Hard Eight'' (originally titled ''Sydney''), with Jon Brion (1996) *''
Boogie Nights ''Boogie Nights'' is a 1997 American period drama A historical drama (also period drama, costume drama, and period piece) is a work set in a past time period, usually used in the context of film and television. Historical drama includes histor ...
'' (1997) *''The Anniversary Party'' (2001) *''Melvin Goes to Dinner'' (2003) *''The Comedians of Comedy'' (2005) *''The Last Kiss (2006 film), The Last Kiss'' (2006) *''Suffering Man's Charity'' (2007) *''American Teen (film), American Teen'' (2008) *''Sunshine Cleaning'' (2008) *''That Evening Sun (film), That Evening Sun'' (2009) *''Bollywood Hero'' (2009) *''Solitary Man (film), Solitary Man'' (2010) *''Carrie Pilby (film), Carrie Pilby'' (2016) *''Boundaries (2018 film), Boundaries'' (2017)


Filmography

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


References


External links

*
Bunker Hill
fan site
United MusiciansMySpace pageDiscogs page
* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Penn, Michael 1958 births Aimee Mann American film score composers American male singer-songwriters Record producers from New York (state) American rock bass guitarists American male bass guitarists American rock guitarists American male guitarists American rock singers American rock songwriters American people of Irish descent American people of Italian descent American people of Lithuanian-Jewish descent American people of Russian-Jewish descent Living people Singer-songwriters from California People from Los Angeles County, California American alternative rock musicians People from Greenwich Village Singer-songwriters from New York (state) Guitarists from California Guitarists from New York City 20th-century American guitarists Record producers from California American male film score composers 21st-century American singers 21st-century American guitarists RCA Records artists