Sunday, February 26, 2006
Nostalgia is my anti-drug: 10,000 Maniacs
I was watching VH-1's The Alternative, which is televised crack for someone like me who several years ago tricked himself into believing he was cool, and they played 10,000 Maniacs "About the Weather". It immediately put me in a better mood. I loved 10,000 Maniacs. Their jaunty pop-folk combined with the amazing voice of Natalie Merchant ensured that I spent the late eighties/early nineties walking around with a constant metaphorical hard-on.

I saw 10,000 Maniacs twice, both times in Cincinnati, Ohio; in 1989 and on their last tour with Natalie, in 1993 at the Riverbend Amphitheatre (the world's largest mosquito breeding ground. I think I got malaria from that show).

When she went solo, Ms. Merchant finally graced Louisville with a performance at the amazingly cool Palace. It was a good performance, but I noticed something at that show: I was surrounded by dirty, smelly hippies. The body odor and patchulli stench was so strong it was like I got a Dirty Sanchez from Jerry Garcia. There's a fine line between folky chantuse and dirty, smelly hippie, and at that point I had a feeling Natalie was trading in her flowered dresses for hairy armpits.

I died a little that night, because I was IN LOVE with Natalie Merchant when she was still with the Maniacs. Some of my friends vehemently disagreed, but I thought she was damn sexy. Her olive skin, dark eyes, full lips and curves sent me over the edge. There are pictures of her wearing more makeup and looking glamorous, but I purposefully picked this one because I never thought she needed a team of stylists to look good. I also loved her politics and her charitable endeavors.

Before anyone thinks I'm going all sensitive on them, tomorrow's post will be about strip clubs. I'm sure Ms. Merchant will NOT approve.

When Natalie left 10,000 Maniacs, the band soldiered on without her, putting out a few releases no one even thought about buying. They have since lost their recording contract and their founding guitarist, Rob Buck, died of liver failure at the age of 42 (he's the one on the far left of the photo, looking at Natalie as if he's thinking "Damn bitch is gonna leave and plunge us into obscurity"). They are now on their third lead vocalist and tour to disinterested crowds at dog tracks and county fairs across the country.

Natalie Merchant may not be as popular as she once was, but unlike her former bandmates, people actually pay money to see her concerts. If there's ever a 10,000 Maniacs reunion, I'll be there.


Blogger Princess LadyBug said...

I'm in! Can I ride with you to the reunion concert?! :D

Blogger aughra said...

I love their version of To Sir With Love with Michael Stipe.

Blogger K said...

Dirty Sanchez? (cough)

I heard this term for the first time months ago and had to look it up right away. I found a few others worthy of note. If you're curious, have a look here:

(I can't create a link - apparently I'm retarded)

Blogger Egan said...

Todd, have you have any of that Natalie Merchant/Michael Stipe stuff they recorded together? I love both of them very much. Amazing artists for sure. I haven't seen Merchant live, but damn I enjoyed REM the fews I have seen them.

Blogger Übermilf said...

Now I'm feeling melancholy.

I not only long for the music of my past, I long for the me of my past.

Except I'd have more money, a really cool apartment and a job helping people. And nice clothes.

Actually, I think I just want to live in a fantasy world where I'm perpetually 25 yet independently wealthy and constantly having fun without any hangovers.

Aaaaah... reality fading.... fantasy life, rising....

Blogger yournamehere said...

princess ladybug,
I don't think the band gets along very well with Natalie. There most likely won't be a reunion.

I have that version on a CD single. It's one of my favorite covers of all time. 10,000 Maniacs also did a great cover of R.E.M.'s "Don't Go Back to Rockville".

killer bits,
I ashamed to admit I knew a few of those.

I've heard a few live things from Stipe and Merchant. Is there more? I used to be in the 10,000 Maniacs fan club; is that the lamest thing ever? I've never been in a fan club before or since. It was called "Friends of 10,000 Maniacs". Some friends they were, though. They never called me.

I don't long for the me of my past. I've never liked myself.

You hate it when I say things like that, don't you Ubie? Okay, let me think...Last week I got an amazing deal on a jacket and I was momentarily very happy.

Blogger Melliferous Pants said...

I saw Natalie Merchant perform at Lilith Fair. She danced in the audience during her set. It was memsmirizing.

Blogger MoDigli said...

Wow - are you serious?! This is one thing we don't agree on. I never liked her much. But the "weather" song -- I did dig that one way back when. I just never got it that she made it so big. She was okay, but her music never moved me. Oh well!

Blogger Princess LadyBug said...

Yeah, I know, but a girl can dream. It sure would be awesome if it did happen.

We wre just listening to 10,000 Maniacs on the way home from Little Rock today. I haven't thought about them in a while, but I was also a fan. And I'm still a Natalie fan.

Blogger Egan said...

Apparently I don't read other comments so well. Aughra pointed out one song. I have to see if that's the one I remember. There's one that Stipe does with Kristen Hirsch that totally rules called Your Ghost.

I will see if I can track down any others. Let me give the To Sir with Love a song a listen. Thanks Aughra. Todd, I was part of the REM fanclub and for a few years. I still love guys as you can probably tell. Hey, maybe the Friends of 10,000 Maniacs now have a blog.

Blogger da buttah said...

i'm feeling young.....very....young.

Blogger your anti-hero said...

I missed the 10,000 maniacs phase. Around that time I was very into old school R&B. I was very much a Teddy Pendergrass and Al Green kind of guy. Mix that with Public Enemy and you have one very confused young man.

Blogger Cincysundevil said...

Wow ... I used to love the Alternative. It was great because they'd have that English guy Dave something or other host it. I used to love it when they had like a great guest host like the Cure or Depeche Mode host.

10,000 Maniacs was a phenom band. I always preferred "Like The Weather" as my fave Maniac song.

Blogger miss kendra said...

"your ghost" makes me want to kill myself.

michael stipe was one of my first celebrity crushes and i about died when i discovered he's gay.

natalie merchant did in fact become a smelly hippie, and that's when she lost me.

Blogger genou said...

So if you saw 10,000 Maniacs in 1989, did you see the Black Velvet Band open for them? I think that was one of my favorite shows I've ever seen. Or, wait, didn't World Party open for 10,000 Maniacs once too back in the day? Mmm, good music.

Can't do 10,000 Maniacs without Natalie Merchant, however, especially since they had the poor sense to attempt that cover of "More Than This." And then they failed so miserably. Gah.

Blogger Rachel said...

Tag, you're it!

Blogger Übermilf said...

Can I take a nap yet? I'm tired. Who wants to play Candyland with a 5-year-old while I take a nap? Anyone? Anyone?

Blogger Egan said...

How do you really feel about Your Ghost Kendra? were in last night, you were driving circles around me...

Blogger Princess Steph said...

does it scare you that I bought a 10000M cd yesterday for $1.

we are obviously meant to be together. :)

If ever a man were to play my belovid wife for me by natalie m. i fear i might marry him on the spot. *sigh*

Blogger Trix said...

Ooh! Ooh! I want to go to!

Blogger Knitty Kitty said...

I remember my dad sitting in the kitchen and putting the maniacs' album on and saying "see this? this is music". He was right, it was much better then the top 40 crap I had been subjecting him to. I'm also a big fan of Natalie.

Blogger yournamehere said...

I wanted to go to Lilith Fair but my armpits weren't hairy enough.

yes I'm serious. We'll just have to disagree on this one.

it would be cool.

you were but a youngin' when the Maniacs were around.

Your Ghost is amazing.

you are very young. I'd feel bad about thinking you're hot, but I'm kind of a dirtbag.

10,000 Maniacs did a killer cover of "Fight the Power".

that was back when M-TV played videos.

Blogger yournamehere said...

for god's sake, don't listen to it, then.

you nailed it. The Black Velvet Band in '89 and World Party in '93.

I'll call you tonight.

not getting a lot of takers, I'm guessing.

she loves it; she just won't admit it.

we are SO meant to be together. When you get tired of all of the attractive guys you date, I'll be waiting.

it's a full car; you'll have to sit on my lap.

I just knew someone would say their dad was a fan. Thanks for making my hip ache.

Blogger Claudia said...

I have no idea what you're talking about so I'm going to post a random comment:

I think I have a crush on Drew Lachey. Yes, he's a midget, but I think our love can overcome that.

Blogger JJ said...

Whenever I hear Stockton Gala days, I'm plunged into an inescapable abyss of meloncholy for better days.

I think I'll listen to it right now and kill myself.

Blogger DelorumRex said...

hey mate.. I just posted the video (Because the Night) on my blog.. come see if you like.. Random Thoughts, Randomer Speelings
PS. I still Love Natalie

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