What is This Song About (Verdi Cries by 10,000 Maniacs)

Lyrics here. It has a rather stream-of-consciousness feel to it. The basic themes seem to include opera and the transitory nature of life (or something).

Anyone with any ideas (or even better, inside info into Natalie Merchant’s consciousness)?

Sounds to me like its about a vacation memory. Natalie is staying in some hotel or resort. She is fascinated by the man staying in room 119. She overhears opera music (Verdi - Aida, specifically) coming from his room. She steals his uneaten breakfast pastries. She goes and eats them on the shore, where she makes odd drawings in the sand, singing bits of the opera as she draws.

Her holiday ends, and she muses that if it had lasted a bit longer she might have learned the entire score of Aida (from overhearing it).

It’s a very evocative song, and I’ve always liked it a lot.

Yea, no offense but it seems pretty straight forward. She’s remembering a vacation where she stayed next to a man who listened to the opera Aida loudly so she can hear it through the door.

Agree its a nice song.

In My Tribe is one of my favorite albums of the '80s.

It’s one of my wife’s also.

That’s a lot of maniacs!

Pretty song, my favorite from that album. I had never seen seen the lryics until now. So it’s not “jack-o-lantern woman in the sand” I’ve learned.

Gotta agree - there are really no bad tracks on it.

Link doesn’t work for me, but you have the general gist – IIRC it’s specifically about the Chautauqua Institution, which is on the shores of Lake Chautauqua and hosts musical events (such as Opera) in season.

I can’t remember the exact lyrics but one confusing part might be some references to Biblical Lands by the sea or somesuch, if there is a reference like that in there, it’s to a miniature reproduction of certain parts of the Holy Land by the beach there, which I tried to find in Google Maps, but the resolution’s not good enough to determine if they’re still there or not (they’d be the white specs next to the large sand-trap looking thing,) but they were there when I visited a couple decades ago.

Next up - Lilydale, Maddox Kitchen Table and Stockton Gala Days interpretation :wink:

Actually, I will.

Lilydale - Home of late 19th century Spiritualism, (well, technically it was a couple miles down the road in Laona, which I grew up in, but the founders moved to Lilydale IIRC,) also home to the inspiring “hollow ground” of the spirituall-moving cemetary.

Maddox Kitchen Table - Jamestown was a big furniture manufacturing place, and Winter Garden at Bemus Point was a place you could go to on a trolley (I mean, that’s fairly obvious but just so you know the lyrics aren’t misleading you) And just a bit more up the lake you could go to Midway, one of the only surviving “Trolley Parks” built for such weekend getaways of the turn of the century, now one of the few state-run amusement parks.

Stockton Gala Days - Up until the mid-90s there was a yearly firemans fair in Stockton, NY, called Stockton Gala Days. The song doesn’t have anything to do with that. It’s just that Stockton is a pastoral environment and the Maniacs took the name for a song about growing up in such a Georgic idyll.

This was always my favorite song off that album (and excellent on the Unplugges as well) but I’ll be damned if I ever managed to figure out what it was about. To this day I remain curious…

My apologies for bumping such a very old thread, but I have a direct answer for HeyHomie’s question: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01m60xw.

Natalie Merchant appeared on a BBC programme back in 2013, and explained the story behind the song. Her answer starts at about 1:10 into the clip, but the short answer is that it was about a fictitious trip (much like Spoke said).

Those I could figure out on my own. If you could interpret the lyrics to “My Mother, the War” however…

Random thought: if Natalie Merchant had been more interested in writing and performing songs that would have fallen more squarely into the pop music camp, as opposed to the social issues she usually addressed, would she be even as known as she is today (which, to the world at large, is not as much as she possibly deserves)?

It’s an anti-war song, doesn’t seem that hard to interpret.