10,000 Maniacs – Like The Weather…. 80’s Underground Mondays

I saw this band in the late eighties and it was one of my concert highlights. The song peaked at #68 in the Billboard 100 and #37 on the Mainstream Rock chart in 1988.

The phrase “unique voice” could have easily have been made for Natalie Merchant. I mean that in the best way. When you hear Natalie you won’t mistake her for Linda Ronstadt, Steve Nicks, Dolly Parton, or Janis Joplin…You know it’s Merchant.

What I liked about this song and their music when I first heard it was the bright happy music set against the dark/sad lyrics…I really like the contrast. The band loved up-tempo songs but Natalie liked the darker lyrics.

Lead singer Natalie Merchant was 17 years old when she was invited to try out for the vocals. She fit, and the group, which started as Still Life, formed around her. They performed together for the first time in 1981 – Merchant was about 10 years younger than her bandmates.

The band got its name from the 1964 film Two Thousand Maniacs!, expanded to 10,000 because there were originally five of them. The group has accumulated a legion of former members thanks to its revolving-door lineup history, but the most famous and founding member was Natalie Merchant. Merchant left in 1993 to start a solo career, but the group kept going without her, replaced by Mary Ramsey.

Bass Player Steven Gustafson: We liked to play toe-tapping music,”Stuff you could dance to with a big beat. Her view of the world was sometimes in stark contrast to that joy we got from playing. It made us unique.”

From Songfacts

The first charting single for 10,000 Maniacs (#68 US), “Like the Weather” was written by lead singer Natalie Merchant, and is simply about being in a foul mood on a day when the weather is horrible and she can’t find a good reason to get out of bed.

The video was directed by Adrian Edmondson, who is best known for his work as an actor: he starred in the British shows The Young Ones and Bottom. Edmondson is also a comedian, and his sardonic wit is at play in this clip, which finds Merchant in a beatific state amid a colorful, breezy set as she sings the rather morose lyrics.

Like The Weather

The color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again.
With a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my lips as if I might cry.

Well by the force of will my lungs are filled and so I breathe.
Lately it seems this big bed is where I never leave.
Shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
Quiver in my voice as I cry,

“What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away.”

I hear the sound of a noon bell chime.
Now I’m far behind.
You’ve put in ’bout half a day
while here I lie
with a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my lip as if I might cry,

“What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away?”

Do I need someone here to scold me
or do I need someone who’ll grab and pull me out of this four poster dull torpor pulling downward.
For it is such a long time since my better days.
I say my prayers nightly this will pass away.

The color of the sky is grey as I can see through the blinds.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again
with a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my voice as I cry,

“What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away?”
I shiver, quiver, and try to wake.

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

71 thoughts on “10,000 Maniacs – Like The Weather…. 80’s Underground Mondays”

    1. I thought you would. I kid you not…since I wrote this up weeks ago…I have not stopped listening to it.

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      1. I can believe you are still playing it. I’ve had their CDs on repeat on many a road trip. Your underground label is very accurate for them too. They’re a group I basically had to discover somehow on my own. They got no radio play in my area back then.

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      2. They were played here quite a bit on the alternative station…I had musician friends who really liked them…that is how I found out.

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    1. Dave I wrote this up a few weeks ago…I’m far ahead because of work…but I have not stopped listening to it.

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  1. Always liked 10,000 Maniacs and Natalie Merchant’s solo stuff, and I’m a huge fan of Ade Edmundson. If you like Tom & Jerry, Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy slapstick with a modern “losers” edge to it, try BBC’s Bottom. He’s married to Jennifer “Ab Fab” Saunders….

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  2. Great song Max! This album was part of the soundtrack of my life at the time and was on constant rotation. I really love how they combined serious thing lyrics with the upbeat music. I would take a little issue with the description description at all songs game about the lyrics to the song. Having a background in psychology it’s clear to me that the narrator of the song is clinically depressed and I’ve always taken did the songs about depression. Given the way the topics of some of the other songs that always made sense to me. I think I mentioned in some other discussion trail about this song that I used the lyrics and this song as an intro to a lecture I gave on depression to an undergraduate class when I was in grad school – it seemed a great way to connect with them

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    1. I agree with you about the lyrics…I’ve known some people that were depressed…I never thought about it but what really is telling is the line “You’ve put in ’bout half a day while here I lie.”

      I’ve always liked the contrast to this and the opposite also. I remember this song well back in the day and I haven’t listened to it again until recently…Paul I have not taken it off since I started…just a wonderful song.

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      1. Yes agree it’s a great song – all the songs on that album are.
        The lyric that got me is Well by the force of will my lungs are filled and so I breathe

        I mean wow.

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      2. Yea that is great…I was lucky I got to see them. A friend of mine talked me into it and played me this album….after that I didn’t need convincing.

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      3. Yeah I saw them too and they were great. I know they still your sans Natalie but just don’t know if I’d like it as much – to me they were Natalie and the rest of the band. What’s your opinion?

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      4. I do agree with you. Like I said in the post Paul…how do you replace that voice? You can’t…I did catch some of the new performances and they sound good…but just not the same without Merchant.

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    2. Paul sorry about wearing you out but what UK bands did you listen to in college? Most of the 80s college bands I’ve listed have been American…I have found one that I’m listing next week that I don’t remember but like…..of course the Smiths were one.

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      1. No problem Max. Love talking music. Actually I think I’m like you. – most of what I used to listen to were American. I’ll have to think about that since nothings coming to mind off the top of my head

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      2. Think about it and tell me if something comes back… tomorrow will be your pick.

        I got into the Beatles at 8 and I wasn’t a big fan of top 40 80’s music….but the Replacements woke me up….i had musician friends of alternative and I was sold.

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      3. I’ve posted both but I love them both….funny I didn’t get into XTC until later on when they came out with “The Man Who Murdered Love”…I do have a post in the drafts with them so they are coming… Squeeze I love…They were hurt by the “The Next Beatles” comments from the critics.

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      4. I don’t know how I missed them. The one I’m working on is Making Plans for Nigel.

        They would have made it huge if Partridge could have toured…he just couldn’t do it.

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      5. Yeah I had read about that. Agree real shame. Totally different genre but I think Pat Benatar was the same way – she just couldn’t deal with performing live

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      6. Ok just did a bit more looking into it – guess I was wrong about her not being able to tour – I thought I read she had bad stage fright. But sounds like she toured a lot through the 80s

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      7. Yeah drives me crazy when an artist is described as the next so and so. To me it’s a lazy way of describing a. Ew artist and can really make it hard on the artist. Think of all the people who were the next Dylan – even Springsteen who obviously transcended that talk with Born to Run

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      8. Yea Springsteen survived it…and that hype he got in 75…except he lived up to the hype unlike the countless others. The Born to Run album is like mini movies…just great.

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      9. Good point – the hype he got in 75 with BTR – on the cover of Time and Newsweek – but right the album is amazing. The stories you read about what went into the making of it – just crazy.

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      10. I read some in the first book I read on Bruce …Born to Run by Dave Marsh and I read the 80s book by him also. Bruce has more talent than should be allowed. Other artists would kill to have Bruce’s outtakes…

        I get shamed by some Bruce fans when I tell them my favorite album…I think you know but it’s Greetings. Maybe it’s the time I heard it first (late 80s) or maybe it’s because I love wordy songs…but that album was brilliant…it didn’t have a great sound but the quality of those songs were great.

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      11. Never gonna shame anyone for liking Greeting- some great songs on that album that have become classics and concert stables – blinded, spirit in the night, saint in the city, for you. I’ve always loved lost in the flood as well. The live version is killer

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      12. Does this Bus Stop at 82nd Street? was the first song off of that album to catch my attention. Growin’ Up also…I was in my angry young man stage at that time lol…so Growin’ Up really stuck with me. “When they said, sit down,” I stood up”…that fed my monster.
        Our band played “Spirit in the Night”…fun song.

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      13. Ok now you got me going. – the other band I liked was the English Best although I guess in the U.K. they were just called the Beat

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      14. Good….I know some about them yes. I’ll look a few up.
        I don’t like giving things away but have you ever heard of Lloyd Cole & The Commotions? They are a UK band from that time.

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      15. Its a few weeks but it’s coming…maybe next week and I appreciate it.
        I am over 20 posts ahead for once…my work has been hectic so I thought I better stay ahead of the game.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow this is a band name I have not heard in years. Maybe since 88. It’s cool when you say it was a great show and this one takes you back to that time.
    Great stuff man

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    1. Thanks Deke…Merchant…love or hate her she has a unique voice. Yes it does man…21 years old and stupid…but happily stupid.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the timing in this song, it’s so catchy. I think “In My Tribe” was one of the albums I chose for Hans album challenge. Can’t remember now. That said I love *every* song on this one. They’re tattooed in pretty deep.

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    1. Yes I think it was…I know you and Run-Sew-Read are big fans. You two helped me get back into them again. Like the Replacements I put them aside for a while but now I’m back in.

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      1. Listening to it now Lisa…I told Paul that someone had to talk me into seeing them…he then played me this album…that is all it took.

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  5. I like them a lot. I used to have their first EP and album, and they sounded surprisingly like Joy Division early on. I think they peaked with their last Natalie studio album, Our Time In Eden. These Are Days is a great track.

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  6. I told you on a previous Natalie post how I got introduced to them. I have this specific song in my Samsung playlist. She does have the unique voice and, sometimes, she pronounces words oddly. In this song, she sounds like she is saying “cwy” instead of “cry.” LOL! Their first three albums didn’t even chart.

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    1. This album was a big one… You are right…it’s the way she pronounces things that add to her voice.

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  7. Looking forward to the XTC bit and Lloyd Cole… he was one very under the radar act that I remember hearing and liking back then. Someone was mentioning Pat Benatar being like Andy Partridge… I could be wrong, but I think it wasn’t that she had stage fright or a fear of travel but rather that when she and Neil (in her band of course) had kids, she wouldn’t leave them so tours had to be somewhat short and usually accomodate their school schedule…no leave them with a nanny , “See you in two months” for them.

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    1. I’m glad you heard of Cole! I’m listening to their music and it’s really cool…some very good power pop in there.
      I think Paul was thinking of Carly Simon possibly because she did have troubles.

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    2. You are right about her kids. I got tix to the Seven the Hard Way tour in the 80s and our local leg of the tour was canceled because of her daughter, Haley. She was born in Feb. 1985, the album was released in Oct. 1985. The subsequent tour was troubled. She was raising a baby.

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