Graded on a Curve: 10,000 Maniacs,
In My Tribe

Some things you should know about the 10,000 Maniacs:

1. There only five of them. None of them are maniacs.

2. Natalie Merchant has a voice so lovely I’d dive into an icy lake to rescue it. Kinda husky, but not husky in a hockey player kinda way. More like Stevie Nicks without the cockatoo on her shoulder kinda way.

3. 10,000 Maniacs have yet to receive their due for spawning the Lilith Fair.

4. Natalie Merchant’s a folk artist in the grand tradition of the late Dan Fogelberg.

5. The word that best sums up the the music of 10,000 Manias is placid. But not placid as in Lake Placid, the horror movie where a 30-foot-long saltwater crocodile chows down on the citizens of Maine.

5.1. Had the man-eating crocodile in Lake Placid put In My Tribe on heavy rotation, today he’d be the owner of a New Age boutique.

6. “Like the Weather” is a fantastic song and I love to sing along with it in the car, despite the fact I don’t know the words. This tends to irk the other people in the car.

7. Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” appeared on the original release of In My Tribe, but was omitted from later U.S. releases. I don’t want to go into the religious issues involved, but suffice it to say that had Salman Rushdie jumped aboard the peace train, Stevens would have pushed him off.

8. Natalie Merchant is a kind person and an advocate for numerous humanitarian causes, and poking fun at her music makes me a crummy person.

9. “Hey Jack Kerouac,” what are you doing hanging around with this bunch of talented bores?

10. “What’s the Matter Here?” is a cool song, but it would be an even cooler song if Morrissey was singing it. Try it using your best Morrissey voice, and you’ll see what I mean.

11. “Don’t Talk” opens with the lines “Don’t talk, I will listen.” Jeepers peepers, Natalie Merchant’s a telepath!

12. Michael Stipe makes a cameo on the upbeat “A Campfire Song.” Their voices blend well together, like milk and milk.

13. Medical science is currently exploring the use of In My Tribe to induce coma.

14. But enough with the snark. Truth is I like more than a few of the songs on In My Tribe. There, I said it. Go ahead and kill me.

15. If 10,000 Maniacs were a food, they’d be tofu.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
C+

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