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The Thursday Throwback Track - Episode 185: 10,000 Maniacs & Black-Eyed Susan

Welcome to WEEK 185 of 4T! (Video Episode #11) 10,000 Maniacs – In My Tribe (1987)

Remember Lilith Fair? Remember how it was the “first” time that women in rock were famous and getting respect, and how that would change everything? That attitude pretty much summed up all of the 1990s. I still have huge nostalgia for that decade, and I do believe lots of important issues were brought to the forefront in every field. I’m not even going to knock the fact that there was actual progress being made. But as with all growth, what we thought of as the be all end all of revolutions pales in comparison to the strides that were made after. And what we forget is that there were significant growth steps even before certain issues gained more popularity.

The whole point of this tangent is to remind you that there were women in rock doing sensitive music before the 1990s – ummm Joni Mitchell & Carole King anyone??? – and that even in the big flashy 1980s, there were plenty of women holding their own with the Springsteens & Princes & U2s. I’ve always followed women in music. I respected Patti Smith & Stevie Nicks, liked Pat Benatar & Joan Jett & Chrissie Hynde, loved the Bangles and the Go-Go’s, and had a secret thing for Siouxsie Sioux. And don’t even get me started on the Riot Grrrl scene in the 1990s, or Hole or the Breeders. For the late 1980s, though, my two go-to women were Edie Brickell and Natalie Merchant.

At some point, everyone needs antidotes to what they normally listen to. It keeps the ears & brain fresh. To counter all the reverb-y bombast of the late 1980s, I chose among others 10,000 Maniacs. This here album was their first to gain widespread recognition – mainly for the songs “What’s the Matter Here?”, “Like the Weather”, and the Cat Stevens cover “Peace Train”. The main showcase of course was Natalie – for her vocals, her songwriting, and her ability to choose & own cover tunes. They’re the strengths that would carry the Maniacs to even bigger success in the early 1990s, and Natalie Merchant to EVEN BIGGERER success in the mid-late 1990s.

There are a bunch of mellow songs of mine that take a page from all this sensitive, laid back stuff. You can hear it most prominently on my mid 1990s home EP, Black-Eyed Susan – especially the title song and the opening track “Higher Ground Again”. Here’s a link to the whole thing:

I remember liking most of the album, and playing it frequently on my dorm room turntable. I’d say my favorite is probably “Like the Weather”.

Who are some of your favorite women in rock, from any era? Discuss dammit!

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