Friday, August 26, 2022

Song of the Day: 'Because the Night' by 10,000 Maniacs

So here we are, the final selection for my series of Songs that Peaked at No. 11 -- and it's a memorable one. I've always thought if I had been born maybe five years later -- and I weren't such a big queen who loves glamour girls -- Natalie Merchant might have been my Debbie Harry. As it would happen, though, she was my Natalie Merchant, the college rock chick who dazzled me with her poetic lyrics and artsy ways. Although she would go on to have a solo career that saw her first four singles go Top 25 -- including one Top 10 -- and three bestselling albums, including one that's certified 5 x platinum -- 10,000 Maniacs managed to score just one hit, which came off "MTV Unplugged," their sixth and last album with Merchant. That it was a cover of a Patti Smith song that was nearly a cover of a Bruce Springsteen song is ironic given Merchant's songwriting skills. But it was simply unfair that such a brilliant rendition didn't even give the band a Top 10 hit as she saw herself to the exit. 10,000 Maniacs 2.0 ended up having a second Top 40 single -- their cover of Roxy Music's "More Than This" somehow reached No. 25 in 1997 -- but never charted again. These days Natalie barely releases new music -- just three albums in the past 20 years -- although she still hasn't completely vanished.

In an article in The Guardian earlier this year, she explains that she'd actually quit 10,000 Maniacs to slow down because she was tired of being a marketable commodity -- only to have her debut album outsell everything her band had ever done. ("Then came the treadmill again.”) The next time she "retired." she took it more seriously. These days she teaches arts and crafts to underprivileged children in her native New York state, which is about the most Natalie Merchant thing I've ever heard.

Note: I hope you've enjoyed this series as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I could go on -- Elvis had four No. 11s, Neil Diamond had three, and Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair (/Canticle)," the Crystals' "He's Sure the Boy I Love" and my beloved Petula Clark's "A Sign of the Times" were all No. 11s as well. But 20 songs of the day plus the Top 10 from old blog posts -- "Head Over Heels" by the Go-Go's; "Jesse" by Carly Simon; "Tired of Being Alone" by Al Green; "Her Town Too" by James Taylor and JD Souther; "You Spin Me 'Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive; "Promises, Promises" by Naked Eyes; "Baby Hold On" by Eddie Money; "Last Christmas" by Wham!; "Walking Down Your Street" by the Bangles; and "A Love Bizarre" by Sheila E -- seemed like a good place to stop. Stayed tuned, though. I have a few more themes in the works for the months ahead! 


Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this series. Thank you Kenneth!

Billdp said...

Great series and a bit shocking at times.

Blobby said...

loved 10k Maniacs. Natalie? well, she's a bit much. Extremely self-righteous and the 3x I saw them she talked down to the audience. Here solo work, while at times interesting, was never very accessible.