Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tell Yourself

Tell Yourself (from the album Motherland)

I know what you tell yourself, you tell yourself

Look in the mirror, look in the mirror what does it show?
I hear you counting
I know you're adding, adding up the score.
I know, oh yes I know what you tell yourself,
tell yourself

Ever since Eden we're built for pleasing everyone knows
and ever since Adam cracked his ribs and let us go
I know, oh yes I know what you tell yourself
tell yourself

Who taught you how to lie so well
and to believe in each and every word you say?
who told you that nothing about you is alright
it's just no use, it's just no good, you'll never be O.K.?

Well I know, I know that wrong's been done to you
"It's such a tough world," that's what you say
well I know, I know it's easier said than done
but that's enough girl, give it away,
give it, give it all away

Tell yourself that you're not pretty
look at you, you're beautiful
tell yourself that no one sees
Plain Jane invisible me, just tell yourself

Tell yourself you'll never be
like the anorexic beauties in the magazines
just a bargain basement Barbie Doll
no belle du jour, no femme fatale
just tell yourself

Tell yourself there's nothing worse
than the pain inside and the way it hurts
but tell yourself it's nothing new
cause everybody feels it too
they feel it too

And there's just no getting 'round
the fact that you're thirteen right now



In November of 2001 I went to my first Natalie Merchant concert. I was not particularly excited. Most of the time when I went to concerts back then (and still now) it was to see artists whose music I was deeply invested in. I would never dream of going to a concert without first thoroughly acquainting myself with the performer's newest album. But I was only a casual fan of Natalie Merchant. I had one older album, which I liked a lot, but that was it. My friend asked if I wanted to go to the concert and I said sure. But I was on the fence. I didn't feel any sense of anticipation and figured it was quite possible I would be underwhelmed.

I wasn't.

I've spent the last nine years trying to figure out what exactly it was that happened that night to turn me from a casual into a...what's the opposite of casual? Formal? A formal fan? I guess I could ask, What happened that night that turned me from a casual fan into the kind of fan that would eventually start a blog dedicated to a song-by-song analysis of this person's music? I think I finally figured it out.

I had been to great concerts before and there was always one of two factors that made them great to me: 1) Connection between the performer and the audience or 2) Emotional depth of the music being performed. I'd been to concerts where the connection between audience and performer was strong and I'd been to concerts where the music performed moved me very deeply. But I'd never really had both of those things happen at once. The performer might be engaged with their audience but maybe the music was more heady and less emotionally moving. I'd also seen performer's play songs that moved me to tears, but they personally were so far removed from their audience they just as soon could've been playing to an empty room (I'm talking to you, Bjork.) I never faulted them for this, I never felt cheated. I just accepted it for what is was.

But seeing Natalie in concert that night was the first time I had ever had an artist satisfy me completely on both levels. She worked hard from the very beginning to connect to her audience on more than one level and she played songs that touched me deeply, none more than the song I've chosen to discuss on this week's post, Tell Yourself.

The words to Tell Yourself are some of the most deeply moving lyrics Natalie has ever written. In a way, they are a complete contrast to the lyrics from the song I covered two weeks ago, Thick As Thieves. Whereas that song features words that are rather abstract and open to interpretation, Tell Yourself is as clear and straightforward as they come. When I listened to it that first time, I thought it was a song directed towards women in general, until that very last line, "And there's just no getting 'round the fact that you're thirteen right now." The song was already moving to me, but that last lyric was a knife to the heart. I was hardly removed from my teen years at the time and could still identify with every thought expressed. I wish I had that song when I was thirteen. I'm glad I have it now, at nearly thirty. That night, Natalie's heart was never more on her sleeve than when she sang this song and it still stands out for me as the highlight of an already amazing performance. I hopped right off that fence for good.

The song's relevance has not faded and unfortunately, I don't think it will fade anytime soon. Not too long ago I heard a story on NPR about the various internet "Pro-Anorexia" websites. I thought I needed my ears checked, but sadly I had heard correctly. There are a growing number of sites that promote anorexia as a lifestyle choice and have message boards aglow with people of all ages sharing pictures and encouraging each other to starve themselves for the sake of "health" and beauty. Disturbing isn't a strong enough word.

I found a few quotes from Natalie about this song, but the statement that touched me most was from the liner notes to Retrospective:

"I wrote this song to comfort all the awkward teenage girls I have ever met, will ever meet, and will never meet. The years 13 through 16 were the worst of my life and I wish that there had been someone who was perceptive enough to notice how much misery I was in. I would have had to turn myself inside out to become a pretty, outgoing, and popular girl. No one was there to tell me that it wasn't worth it."

This last sentence broke my heart. I wish I had an H.G. Wells-style time machine so that I could go back to the 1970s, find Natalie and tell her that she didn't need to turn herself inside out, that she would do just fine being herself and that someday there would be more people than she could imagine that would think she was beautiful in more ways than one. Then she would say, "Who are you and why are you talking to me and why aren't you wearing bell bottoms?" And I'd be like, "Oh...well, it's complicated. Don't worry about it." Then she'd press me and I'd admit I was from the future and then after I left in my time machine, she would become obsessed with time travel and become a physicist or something. She would never make music, thus I wouldn't have purchased an album with the liner notes quoted above, thus I never would have gone back in time in the first place, and boom - you've got a paradox. The space-time continuum would be torn asunder and it would all be my fault.

So...I guess I can't go back and help teenage Natalie. And I can't write beautiful songs like she can or sing with a beautiful voice like hers. But I can take the work her pain and empathy produced and share it with the teenage girls in my life and hope it helps them cope with their most unpleasant years. And maybe in the process I can introduce them to music worth getting off the fence for. No time machine required.

So here is your homework for this week, kids: Tell me (in the comment section or via email) about the first time you saw Natalie in concert. Was there a particular song or moment that reeled you in? And did I come close to quantifying the experience?

Download Tell Yourself from Itunes - Tell Yourself - Motherland

See you next week!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Please Forgive Us / Hateful Hate / Tolerance

Please Forgive Us (from the 10,000 Maniacs album Blind Man's Zoo)

"Mercy, mercy," why didn't we hear it?
"mercy, mercy," why did we read it
buried on the last page of our morning papers?

The plan was drafted, drafted in secret
gunboats met the red tide
driven to the rum trade
for the army that they created
but the bullets were bought by us
it was dollars that paid them

Please forgive us
we don't know what was done
in our name

There'll be more trials like this in mercenary heydays
when they're so apt to wrap themselves up
in the stripes and stars and find that they are able
to call themselves heroes
to justify murder
by their fighters for freedom

Please forgive us
we don't know what was done
please forgive us, we didn't know

Could you ever forgive us?
I don't know how you could

I know this is no consolation...

Please forgive us
we didn't know

Could you ever believe that
we didn't know?

Please forgive us
we didn't know

I wouldn't blame you
if you never could


____________________________________________


Hateful Hate (from the 10,000 Maniacs album Blind Man's Zoo)

In the dark night a giant slumbered
untouched for centuries
'til awakened by a white man's cry
"this is the Eden I was to find"

There were lands to be charted
and to be claimed for a crown
when a hero was made
by the length he could stay
in this dangerous land of hateful hate

Curiosity filled the heads of these
there was an upper room they had to see

Curiosity killed the best of these
for a hero's hometown welcoming

Still they moved on and on...

Who came building missions?
unswerving men of the cloth
who gave their lives in numbers untold
so that black sheep entered the fold

Captured like human livestock destined for slavery
naked, walked to the shore where great ships moored
for the hell bound journeys
bought and sold with a hateful hate

Curiosity filled the breasts of these
with some strange ecstasy

Curiosity killed the best of these
by robbing their lives of dignity

Still they moved on and on...

Calling men of adventure
for a jungle bush safari
come conquer the beast
his claws and teeth
see death in his eyes to know you're alive

European homesteads grew up in the colonies
with civilized plans for wild hinterlands
their guns and God willing
such a hateful hate

Curiosity spilled the blood of these
for their spotted skins and ivory

Curiosity filled the heads of these
madmen with the lies of destiny

Curiosity spilled the blood of these
then blotted their lives from history

Curiosity filled the heads of these
one man claimed all that he could see

Curiosity still entices these
madmen with a lusting and a greed

Their legacy, legacy, legacy…

______________________________________________


Tolerance (from the 10,000 Maniacs album Our Time In Eden)

the still and silence is torn with violence
a loud breaking sound in the night is made
hear it grow, hear it fade
the sound you're hearing
the sound you're fearing
is the hate that parades up and down our streets
coming within bounds and within reach

now, inside the place we hide away
we hear it near and hope it turns away
turn away

there's something seething
in the air we're breathing
we learn slash and burn is the method to use
set a flame, burn it new
we're overpowered
we kneel, we cower, we cover our heads
feel the threat of blows that will come
and the damage that will be done in its wake

now, inside this place we hide away
we hear it near although it's miles away
we hear it near and hope it turns away
turn away

this house divided, we live inside it
hate's dwelling place is behind our doors in fitful nights
hear it walk the floor and hear it rave as it
moans and drags along its ball and chain
as it moves through this house it can't escape

now inside this place we hide away
we hear it near and hope it turns away
turn away



When I was younger, I carefully avoided reading reviews of any kind, especially movie reviews. I was afraid that I was too impressionable, that whatever I read would sway my opinion, usually in a negative direction. But as time went by and I realized that I had seen far too many terrible movies in my brief time on this earth, I decided I might need to change my ways.

Nowadays when I read reviews, whether for movies or albums or books, there is a particular kind of pattern that I'm always drawn to. I love when people are strongly divided in their opinions of a particular work. There is nothing more intriguing to me than reading a bunch of reviews that say, "This album was the greatest album I've listened to in ten years and now my life is worth living again" next to a bunch of reviews that say, "This album was bloody awful and I will kill myself if I ever have to hear it again." I always figure anything that can generate that kind of passion must be worth my time. I have no idea whose side of the fence I'll be on, but I figure it's very likely that one thing will happen for sure - I will feel something. Be it overwhelming love or passionate hate, I will have an emotion when all is said and done. It's so much better to feel even a negative emotion than to feel apathy. For me, saying "It was okay" is the worst possible outcome.

When I first started this blog, all I was thinking about was the myriad of songs I couldn't wait to talk about. Songs that I loved. Even songs that I didn't love so much, but had something to say about. But I gave little thought to what would happen when I had to talk about songs that fell in between those two emotions. I thought for a while that maybe I would just skip those songs, but that seemed unfair for two reasons: 1) I said from the outset of this project that I would cover all original Natalie/Maniacs material and I don't want to be wishy washy. 2) I want to be respectful of the fact that some of the songs that I may feel dispassionate about may be songs that some of my readers dearly love.

And that brings me to this week's songs. None of the songs on this week's post are songs that I dislike. But none are songs I have strong love for either. I was worried that I wouldn't have much to say, but then I remembered that I'm not really the star of this show anyways, am I? So before I share my two cents (and this time it will actually be two cents, as opposed to my usual two hundred) I'd like to give the floor to the person you really want to hear from.

Let's start with Natalie's thoughts on Please Forgive Us, a song about the 1986 Iran-contra scandal:

"I don't want people to put too much weight on the political side of that song. Mostly it's just a way to communicate to people down there (Central America) that there are people here who don't agree with what our government does. I wanted them to know that there are people here who are not responsible for it. I know that no matter how much money I give to send medical aid, I can't bring back people who have died or been hurt by these actions." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1989

What about Hateful Hate?

"That's one of the most powerful songs we've ever done, but the topic is just as grave. It's about slaughter for money, for ivory, and the slaughter is as much the fault of people on Fifth Avenue who buy the ivory as it is the hunters themselves." - Toronto Star, 1989

"Hateful Hate is about the situation in Africa and its historical context - what led up to what's happening there today. There's this intolerance of the differences between races and cultures that the colonial Europeans express towards Africans - that they were primitive and savage." - Spin, 1989

A lot of the press Natalie did for Blind Man's Zoo focused on the band's intention to make the album dark, somber, serious. It's a goal they reached musically for most of the album and lyrically for pretty much the entire thing. The result is that some songs on the album are dark but haunting and powerful and others are dark but a bit on the joyless side. That's how I feel about these two songs. Musically, I love Hateful Hate. Please Forgive Me less so. But the lyrics to both of these songs don't really move me the way that they perhaps should. (And truthfully, I think the title Hateful Hate is just awful. Couldn't it have just been called Hate? Did we need to have the type of hate identified? "I don't understand, is it the irritated kind of hate or the playful type of hate or...Oh okay...got it. It's the hateful type. Okay, I'm good now, thanks.")

Of the three songs in this week's post, I like Tolerance the most, both musically and lyrically. I couldn't find a lot of quotes from Natalie specific to the song, but I have heard that it was inspired by the L.A. riots of the early 90s (maybe the song could've been called Racist Racism.) This may or may not be true, but one way or another, I think the song's general description of fear of violence is more powerful than having the song filled with references to Rodney King or Reginald Denny.

I think that Natalie's motivation for writing songs of this nature can best be summed up by this quote:

"I don't think music should be escapism, I don't think music should be just another form of entertainment like watching situation comedies on television. People should have to look at music as such a powerful form of communication that it just shouldn't be ignored. It should be used." - Pulse!, 1989

I would be more than a bit surprised if Natalie expressed that exact same sentiment now, twenty years later. Some of the music she's made in the more recent part of her career, particularly on her most recent album, would seem to suggest that she's embraced the more playful, and dare I say escapist, side of music, and I for one am quite thankful for the balance this has brought to her musical catalogue. But I still appreciate the motivations of the youthful and passionate little firebrand who made the statement above.

I'll leave you with one last quote, my favorite for this week:

"A lot of my contributions to the Maniacs were dark and provocative. And sometimes I failed miserably in what I was trying to do. Songs like Hateful Hate and Tolerance - I cringe now. I've never thought of myself as an overtly political writer. I've always tried to write more social than political commentary. There are times when I've veered off that path, and I've had horrible collisions, grave disasters. So I get back on my path, which is to write about people." - Rolling Stone, 1995

That's all for this week. But I would like to know what you think about these songs. Did I get it right? Or do you think I missed the boat completely? Please feel free to share your thoughts via e-mail or the comments section. See you next week!

Click here to download Please Forgive Us from Itunes - Please Forgive Us - Blind Man's Zoo

Click here to download Hateful Hate from Itunes - Hateful Hate - Blind Man's Zoo

Click here to download Tolerance from Itunes - Tolerance - Our Time In Eden

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thick As Thieves

Thick As Thieves (from the album Ophelia)

Remember how it all began
the apple and the fall of man
the price we paid
so the people say
down a path of shame it led us
dared to bite the hand that fed us
the fairy tale
the moral end
the wheel of fortune
never turns again

The worst of it has come and gone
in the chaos of millennium
in the falling out of the doomsday crowd
their last retreat is moving slow
they burn their bridges as they go
the heretic is beatified
he'll teach the harlot's child to smile

Wracked again by indecision
should we make that small incision
testify to the bleeding heart inside?
we cut, we scratched
we rent, we slashed
and when he opened up at last
found a cul-de-sac
deep and black
of smoke and ash

The wicked king of parody
is kissing all his enemies
on the seventh day
of the seventh week
the tyrant's voice is softer now
but just for one forgiving hour
before the rise of his
iron fist again

I've come tonight
I've come to know
the way we are
the way we'll go
come to measure this
the width of the wide abyss

I come to you in restless sleep
where all your dreams turn bitter-sweet
with voodoo doll philosophies
and day-glo holy trinities

The crooked raft that leaves the shore
ferries drunken souls aboard
pilgrims march to Compostela
visions of their saint in yellow

All follow deep in trance
lost in a catatonic dance
know no future
damn the past
blind, warm, ecstatic
safe at last…



Dear Readers:

I don't know what this song is about.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!



Sigh...

I think it's important for every person to have a few unrealistic fantasies in their life and I would like to tell you about one of mine: I would like to have one hour to sit down with Natalie Merchant and interview her. I don't care about autographs, I don't want to take a picture with her, I don't need a hug. I just want an interview. (By the way, is it a little pathetic that in my fantasy I only give myself one hour? It's a fantasy, right? I could at least ask for two. Must I be modest even in my dreams?) This unrealistic hope is made stronger and more passionate every time I read or listen to a new interview with Natalie and hear her asked questions that are completely unnecessary and/or utterly inane.

"Natalie, can you explain why you decided to leave 10,000 Maniacs?" Oh, that's an excellent question and certainly not one we've heard the answer to about a million times...over the last seventeen years!

"Natalie, what do you think about current pop culture fill-in-the-blank celebrity? ...Oh, really? You've never heard of them?" Nice try, though, because goodness knows, if there's anything I want to hear one of the most gifted songwriters alive talk about, it's Lindsay Lohan.

"Natalie, why don't you have a sense of humor? I mean, you seem really, really boring. But, you know, in a cool way and everything. So...why is that?"

I once watched an interview with Natalie in which a very well-respected television journalist picked up her CD, read the titles to every song and then just looked at her expectantly. Was there a question there? A lot of these same journalists will then mention in their print articles that Natalie seems like "a tough nut to crack" or "awkwardly silent for long stretches of time." Well, no wonder! Ask a decent, respectable question from time to time and you might actually get a conversation going, morons!

Ahem. I apologize. I've gotten a bit carried away. The point I'm trying to make is that if I was given the opportunity to interview Natalie, I would do her (and her legion of fans, especially) the service of asking some questions that actually, oh, I don't know...provoke thought? That have answers that people are actually interested in hearing? That don't make her incredibly uncomfortable? That matter? Oh boy, I'm getting riled up again.

Of the countless questions I would like to ask Natalie, one of them surely would be, What is Thick As Thieves about? What do you think she would say? Well, here is something she actually has said about the song (without being asked, of course, because that would be ridiculous):

"There have been songs that I didn't know exactly what they were about until I had performed them for a couple years. A couple of songs I've written I still don't know what they're about...like Thick As Thieves."*

Thwarted.

The first few times I listened to Thick As Thieves, the general thought I got was that it was a commentary on religious tyranny and abuse of moral power. And then I would listen to the song again and think, "Or maybe not." This process kept repeating itself over and over again. "I've got it! It's about...or maybe not." "Now I'm sure of it! It's definitely about...nope."

Back to my fantasy interview. I should've asked a better question. I need to imagine myself being a better fake journalist. Maybe I could succeed in getting more information if I asked a less direct question about the song. Perhaps I might inquire as to what inspired the writing of the song, what thought process was taking place when it was being written? That surely would provide some more insight, right?

"I can remember that those words came to me so easily they almost seemed to be dictated by my subconscious. At the time, some of the phrases had no clear meaning to me; they were only combinations of sounds."**

At this point in the interview I'd start writing this sentence in my head: "Merchant is a tough nut to crack..."

Nah, just kidding. Actually, I like this last comment. I like it a lot. This last comment is what gives me the courage to tell you what I have to tell you about this week's song, something I think some of you may not want to hear. Are you ready? Brace yourselves.

I don't think Thick As Thieves is about anything. At least not anything specific. I think it is exactly what Natalie says it is in that last quote - phrases and sounds. And you know what? That's fine by me. Not everything in life has to have an explanation, especially not when it comes to art. Why is that painting beautiful? Why does that song make you cry? Why do you laugh at all the parts in that movie that no one else thinks is funny? Sometimes you can explain it. But sometimes you can't.

Thick As Thieves comes across exactly as what it apparently is, a stream of consciousness, a convergence of ideas and imagery. Natalie seems to be quite proud of the lyrics and I think she has every right to be. Over a decade after they were written, they still have us wondering.

Time for today's interesting song-related factoid: Thick As Thieves has a lyric about marching to Compostela. This refers to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. This city's cathedral has been a destination of pilgrimage for many hundreds of years. (In an example of loving things without understanding why, I would like to say I love the word pilgrimage.) It is the belief of some that the Apostle James' remains are to be found at this location. No one has been able to verify this claim, but who really needs an excuse for a good pilgrimage? Over 100,000 pilgrims from all over the world travel to this location each year. When they complete the pilgrimage they are given something called a Compostela, a certificate of completion of their quest. Personally, if I was visiting Spain I'd rather see the Prado museum, but to each his own.

Before I sign off this week, I'd like to once again invite you to share your own thoughts on this week's song via the comments section or e-mail. I can only imagine the many interpretations you all must have for this song and I would love to hear them if you care to share. Also, to help perpetuate my unrealistic fantasy, I'd like to put this question out to all of you: What question would you have me ask Natalie in my interview?

Download an alternate, Natalie solo performance version of Thick As Thieves from Itunes - Thick As Thieves (2005 Version) - Retrospective 1990-2005

Click here to watch a video from Natalie's official site that I'm including primarily for the first 30 seconds, which actually pertain to this week's post. Highly entertaining.

*New York Times "Times Talks" - November 2010
**Liner notes to Retrospective

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Noah's Dove / If You Intend

Noah's Dove (from the 10,000 Maniacs albums Our Time In Eden and Unplugged)

You win a prize for that
for telling lies like that
so well that I believed it
I never felt cheated

You were the chosen one
the pure eyes of Noah's dove
choir boys and angels
stole your lips and your halo

In your reckless mind
you act as if you've got more lives
In your reckless eyes
you only have time and your love of danger
to it you're no stranger

In that August breeze
of those forgotten trees
your time was set for leaving
come a colder season

In your reckless mind
you act as if you've got more lives
in your reckless eyes
it's never too late for a chance to seize some
final breath of freedom

Very...so very wise

Don't reveal it
I'm tired of knowing
where it is you're going

In your reckless mind
you act as if you've got more lives
in your reckless eyes
you only have time and your love of danger
to it you're no stranger

In your reckless mind
you act as if you've got more lives
in your reckless eyes
it's never too late for a chance to seize some
final breath of freedom


_____________________________________________________________________________________


If You Intend (from the 10,000 Maniacs album Our Time In Eden)

if you intend to live again
open your eyes and don't pretend you're feeling
there's nothing worth believing

if you persist you'll die like this
and wither in the midst of your first season
cut down with no reason

how can you be so near and not see everything?

if you intend to live again
take the outstretched hand of the one that needs you
it's been so long, we've missed you

why do you intend to speed your end
lie in the dark and let your limbs grow weaker
sinking low then deeper?

how can you be so near and not see everything?

feel what might be
see what I see
again and again and again say you don't
you say you don't, but you will



Who can you save?

Think of all the professions that center around saving lives - doctors, paramedics, firefighters, etc. While I can imagine that it must be extremely exhilarating and gratifying to succeed in rescuing someone from mortal danger, I can't imagine what it takes to work in a profession that requires you to see so much death. In an attempt to get insight into the psyche of people who do these jobs, I asked a friend who worked as an ER nurse to explain to me how she coped with seeing people die in front of her on a regular basis. I wanted to understand the personal strengths and thought processes that made this kind of work possible. There had to be a solid answer.

She replied that in the beginning of her career, whenever she was working on someone and they died, she would immediately go to the cafeteria and eat ice cream to console herself. But when she stopped being able to button her pants, she desisted from the habit. Then she shrugged. It was not exactly the answer I was looking for. But I didn't respect her any less. I just figured it was too complex an issue for someone to simplify for me. Or, possibly, that ice cream truly is the answer to life's most complex questions.

There are also professions that center around saving lives in a different way. There are various types of social workers who deal with the depressed, the addicted and the abused on a daily basis. A physician trying to heal a physical trauma has a degree of control over what happens to their patient, they can try to save them in whatever manner they see fit. But when all you have is the power of persuasion to try to convince someone to do what it takes to save their own lives...that's a whole different story.

I put Noah's Dove and If You Intend together for this week's post because I've always felt that these songs were similar in theme. Both songs seem to touch on the topic of self-inflicted peril, but from slightly different perspectives. While the words to If You Intend express fear and frustration, its references to the outstretched hand of a friend, and the very fact that the word "if" is in the title, suggest that the song is both a warning and a plea to turn around before it's too late.

But if If You Intend is the voice of warning, then Noah's Dove is the voice of defeat. Most of the words are written in the past tense and with very little sense of optimism. The song seems to be an epitaph of abandoned hope.

Regarding who these two songs are written about, you might be surprised at Natalie's answer:

"I was partially singing to myself, though I thought it would be too convoluted to present the songs that way. I think everyone has a multitude of people inside them when they face decisions. The conflicts in my own head are way more severe than any I've had with other people." - Record Collector, October 1992

I love this tiny piece of insight, don't you?

Overall, If You Intend has always struck me as being the poor man's Noah's Dove. It's not a bad song, but lyrically, and especially musically, Noah's Dove is far superior. If You Intend feels like an afterthought, a lightweight on an album full of heavy hitters.

Let's talk about the music for Noah's Dove for a moment. You know that quote from Claude Debussy, "Music is the space between the notes"? This seems especially true of Noah's Dove. It's a beautiful sounding song, but it's also an extremely interesting sounding song. It almost gives the impression that something important is missing from the structure of the song...but that it's supposed to be missing, that it was taken out on purpose. It's quite captivating.

Our Time In Eden is also the first Maniacs album where Natalie plays a significant amount of piano, including on Noah's Dove. I've heard Natalie make a lot of references in recent years to her poor piano-playing abilities. I respect her opinion and accept that it's possible that more intelligent musical minds than I might even agree with her. But I think her playing has a very distinctive sound to it. Maybe it's technically proficient, maybe it's not. But it's a sound I'm quite fond of and without it I don't think Noah's Dove would be nearly the song it is.

So those are my thoughts. What do you think of these two songs? As always, feel free to e-mail me at nmcompendium@yahoo.com or comment below (no need to sign in) if you'd like to contribute your two cents to my two hundred. See you next week!

Download If You Intend from Itunes - If You Intend - Our Time In Eden

Download the Unplugged version of Noah's Dove from Itunes - Noah's Dove (Live) - MTV Unplugged: 10,000 Maniacs