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.