Song of the Day #642: ‘These Are Days’ – 10,000 Maniacs

As this turned into an unofficial theme week about expectations, second impressions and the like, I figured I’d close with an example of a second impression album. That’s a case where you’re already a fan of an artist but you don’t immediately warm to a new release at first, only to return to it down the road and discover that it’s actually quite good.

This is closely related to the situation where you like one album by an artist so much that you can’t bring yourself to make time for a new one. My wife does this all the time. Over the years, when presented with a new album by Josh Rouse, Fiona Apple, John Mayer, Tim McGraw or some other favorite, she might give it a cursory listen but her basic response is “I already have the [artist name here] album I like, why do I need a new one?”

I’m generally quite the opposite. I view the discovery of a great new album as an invitation to seek out everything the artist has ever done. Sometimes I’m disappointed, as with TV On the Radio and My Morning Jacket, whose newest releases inspired me to dig deeper into their catalogs only to be disappointed with what I found. But more often I wind up with a whole variety of new music to enjoy, with Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert’s catalogs as a recent example.

10,000 Maniacs’ 1992 release Our Time in Eden started out as a “why do I need this?” album for me before making a great second impression. For whatever reason, my first listen didn’t inspire me and I turned back to In My Tribe, their breakthrough album that was then a staple in my listening rotation. I remember thinking at the time that if I ever wanted to hear 10,000 Maniacs, I couldn’t imagine reaching for anything other than that album.

But time and increased familiarity pushed me in the other direction and now I’m more likely to reach for Our Time in Eden, which turned out to be a much richer and more rewarding work (and their last with lead singer Natalie Merchant, as is turned out).

‘These Are Days’ was the biggest hit from the album. It’s one of the most joyous and optimistic songs I own, but in a way that hints at an underlying seriousness, or even sadness. My sister once posted that she played this song a lot after 9/11, and that makes a lot of sense to me.

These are the days
These are days you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it,
You’ll know it’s true
That you – you are blessed and lucky
It’s true – that you
Are touched by something
That will grow and bloom in you

These are days you’ll remember
When May is rushing over you
With desire to be part of the miracles
You see in every hour
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you are touched
By something that will grow and bloom in you

These are days
These are the days you might fill
With laughter until you break
These days you might feel
A shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do
You’ll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
You’ll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking
To you, to you

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #642: ‘These Are Days’ – 10,000 Maniacs

  1. Amy says:

    Well, yes, you have chosen one of my favorite songs of all time to feature today. This songs affects me on such a guttural level that I find it difficult to even intellectualize what it is about the song that so appeals to me.

    I suppose it’s really quite simple. Such a life affirming lyric sung by a woman I have always considered to be one of the most pure artists in the business = 3:34 of unadulterated joy. I’ve never been able to listen to this song just once. This morning is no exception.

    As for your unofficial theme week… I don’t know if this whole album grabbed me from the first listen, but this song definitely did. This was one I knew the first moment I heard it would become a song I loved for the rest of my life. Thanks for featuring it today.

  2. Dama says:

    This song blows chunks.

    Just kidding of course. It’s wonderful:)

    Merchant has such a wonderfully unique voice and presentation. She’s one of those singers, like Sting, who can probably sing “Three Blind Mice” and make it imminently listenable and fresh. This is not to take away from her songwriting prowess, which is also very good (as is Sting’s of course).

    This song manages to be soaringly uplifting without ever being preachy or sappy. And that is, in and of itself, a major feat.

    Great way to end this impromptu theme week.

  3. Clay says:

    I checked YouTube for a clip of Natalie Merchant singing a nursery rhyme, figuring the odds were at least somewhat good of such a thing existing, and would up finding this clip of her singing a song called ‘Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience.’

    Great sound (it’s a live radio performance). I think it’s from her new album.

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