Tuesday, May 9

Natalie Merchant

I hope C&T's readers will indulge me, but I'm going to post today about one of my favorite veteran artists. I've been enamored with Natalie Merchant and her music for more than a decade, and I just recently discovered her 2003 album The House Carpenter's Daughter. I had completely overlooked it at the time of its release, and have just now been giving it a listen.

The album is billed as a collection of folk music, but I imagine that those who enjoy Merchant's work with or without 10,000 Maniacs will enjoy it. It's not as poppy as her other post-Maniacs work (as you might expect) but the songs still showcase her warm and emotive vocal. Given my roots in the Midwest and South, I've decided to feature the traditional "Owensboro" named for a Kentucky town relatively close to my old stomping grounds. Here it is, along with the lyrics for those of you playing at home:

Natalie Merchant - Owensboro
traditional, as arranged by Natalie Merchant

well, I lived in a town
way down south
by the name of Owensboro
and I worked in a mill
with the rest of the “trash”
as we’re often called
as you know

well, we rise up early
in the morning
and we work all day real hard
to buy our little meat and bread
buy sugar, tea, and lard

well, our children
grow up unlearned
with no time to go to school
almost before they learn to walk
they learn to spin and spoon

well, the folks in town
they dress so fine
and spend their money free
but they would hardly look
at a factory hand
who dresses like you or me

would you let them wear
their watches fine
let them wear their gems
and pearly strings

but when that day
of judgment comes
they’ll have to share
their pretty things

As a random pop culture aside, the other folks about my age might also remember that Owensboro is/was the home of Jon Brennan on the second season of The Real World (Los Angeles). Remember the country singer guy who always performed "Boot Scoot Boogie"? That dude. I can't believe I remember that. Yikes.

While I'm rambling about Natalie, here's a selection of tracks that feature her lovely voice:

From Mermaid Avenue, Volume II:
Billy Bragg & Wilco (with Natalie Merchant on vocals) - I Was Born

Various live tracks:
Natalie Merchant - improv > Son of a Preacher Man [Dusty Springfield cover]
Natalie Merchant - Space Oddity [David Bowie cover]
10,000 Maniacs (with Michael Stipe) - Candy Everybody Wants

Over at Amazon, Natalie shares her favorite music you should hear. I also noticed that they have many dirt cheap used copies of Tigerlily and Ophelia. They're worth picking up.


Blogger christine said...

I rocked out to natalie merchant back in the day! Good times, good times on the nostalgia bus!

5:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weird. I have been listening to 10,000 maniacs, Our Time in Eden again recently. I sense some collective unconscious happening.

11:21 AM

Anonymous Rob Szarka said...

The track you identified as "Son of a Preacher Man" is actually a cover of Aretha Franklin's "Baby I Love You". (Even better, IMHO!)

8:37 PM

Anonymous Rob Szarka said...

Oh, I see. Yeah, "Son of a Preacher Man" at the end, "Baby I Love You" at the beginning. :)

8:44 PM

Blogger Rich said...

Sorry Rob, it was the "Son of a Preacher Man" that got me. I love the original of that song. I did the same thing the first time I listened. I thought it was mislabeled, and them BAM!

8:56 PM

Blogger The Falconer said...

Rich, perhaps we can get you some treatment for your Natalie Merchant affliction/addiction :)

Unfortunately, my wife likes her too so we have most of her recording around the house.

4:00 AM

Blogger Rich said...

Sure falconer, but you're not going to get me into your Sarah McLachlan fetish. So there.

11:40 AM


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