Song of the Day #1,731: ‘Carnival’ – Natalie Merchant

natalie_merchant_tigerlilySomehow I made it through 1,730 Songs of the Day without once featuring a solo Natalie Merchant track.

I guess that’s not completely surprising given that Merchant’s solo career isn’t (wasn’t?) exactly earth-shattering, and in my defense I have featured three 10,000 Maniacs songs, but it does feel like an oversight.

Merchant has such a great voice and perspective, both of which are showcased beautifully on ‘Carnival.’ the hit from her solo debut Tigerlily.

Many years ago I was pulled over and issued a speeding ticket while listening to this song and for years afterward I had a negative association whenever I heard it in the car. It sounds much better over my computer headphones, where I am (I hope) safe from Johnny Law.

I’ve walked these streets
a virtual stage
it seemed to me
make up on their faces
actors took their
places next to me

I’ve walked these streets
in a carnival
of sights to see
all the cheap thrill seekers
the vendors and the dealers
they crowded around me

have I been blind
have I been lost
inside my self and
my own mind
hypnotized
mesmerized
by what my eyes have seen?

I’ve walked these streets
in a spectacle of wealth and poverty
in the diamond markets
the scarlet welcome carpet
that they just rolled out for me

I’ve walked these streets
in the mad house asylum
they can be
where a wild eyed misfit prophet
on a traffic island stopped
and he raved of saving me

have I been blind
have I been lost
inside my self and
my own mind
hypnotized
mesmerized
by what my eyes have seen?

have I been wrong
have I been wise
to shut my eyes
and play along
hypnotized
paralyzed
by what my eyes have found
by what my eyes have seen
what they have seen?

have I been blind
have I been lost
inside my self and
my own mind
hypnotized
mesmerized
by what my eyes have found
in that great street carnival
in that carnival?

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4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,731: ‘Carnival’ – Natalie Merchant

  1. Dana says:

    Many years ago, I was pulled over while listening to Lyle Lovett’s Joshua Judges Ruth, which we had just bought an hour before on a road trip from Tallahassee to Gainesville. I recall being really annoyed by being pulled over, mostly because the cop had interrupted our enjoyment of that wonderful album.

    Anyway, as for Merchant, she is one of a handful of artists whose voice I love so much that she could sing nursery rhymes and I would enjoy them simply because she was the singer. Sting comes to mind as another example of that type of voice.

    Would I like today’s song if it were done by anyone else? Maybe, but with her unique vocal style, it all just works wonderfully for me.

  2. Amy says:

    I completely forgot about that awful cop interrupting Lyle!!! Crazy that you haven’t featured a song by Merchant, especially my all time favorite, “These Are Days.” Consider this my formal request. Please feature that song. It deserves a SOTD post! :)

    I also agree with Dana that I could listen to her sing anything. I like the sound of this song and can imagine liking it regardless of the singer, but Merchant makes any song her own the moment she puts her vocal stamp on it. I just love her.

  3. Clay says:

    I have featured ‘These Are Days‘ on the blog before (along with a couple of other 10,000 Maniacs songs. Just no Natalie Merchant solo tracks.

  4. Amy says:

    That’s fascinating; I so don’t think of “These Are Days” as a 10,000 Maniacs song (though I was incredulous that it hadn’t been featured). Hmmmm….. Thanks for the link and the flasback :)

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