Song of the Day #3,155: ‘Something Came Over Me’ – Tift Merritt

tift_stitch_worldDiscussion of Tift Merritt almost always comes around to the question of why she isn’t more popular. Not just on this blog but in most critics’ reviews as well.

It’s not that her fans decry the lack of massive Billboard success, sold-out stadium shows and household name status. I’m talking about a level of popularity that’s somewhere above that of a local bar band.

Merritt’s praises have been sung in national magazines and websites; she has shared a stage with Elvis Costello, David Byrne and other celebrated artists; she has collaborated with well-known folk and indie performers (including Sam Bean (aka Iron & Wine), who sings backing vocals on this track).

And yet, when I saw her in concert in South Florida a few years back, I was one of about 20 people in the audience. Don’t get me wrong, it was the finest live music experience of my life, but 20 people? In a region with a population of about 5 million?

I’m happy to be in a small group of people who appreciate Merritt’s talent. It means I got to thank her and give her a hug after that performance. But I would love to see others discover her gifts. I want that for their sake and hers.

Late night city after a train
A corner dressed in flyers and rain
Something came over me, something came over meWithout asking, it came right in
To my bones, through my skin
Something came over me, something came over me

Something so loud without a sound at all
Just a sweet old song, laying there all along
Oh it came over me

At lot like a seeing a ghost you know
Or the beat in the water way down low
How it came over me, the way it came over me

A thread in a thread, I felt complete
Like lightening made in summer heat
How it came over me, the way it came over me

Something so loud without a sound at all
Just a sweet old song, laying there all along
And it came over me

I forgot my heart had room like that
Open spaces behind the cracks
Something came over me, something come over me

I stood there thinking how good it is
Wasn’t any different than a night like this
Something came over me, something came over me

Something so loud without a sound at all
Just a sweet old song, laying there all along
Oh it came over me

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6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,155: ‘Something Came Over Me’ – Tift Merritt

  1. Peter says:

    Fortunately her level of popularity is way above that of a local bar band, she has a solid fanbase (also in Europe). It’s informative that her favorite writer is Jack Gilbert, a poet who didn’t care much about fame and glory but cared about writing (and living) as honest as possible. So the question would be: what is success from Tift’s point of view? Nevertheless I will keep on praising her talent, never mind that a lot of friends make jokes about my missionary zeal 😇

  2. Dana says:

    I suppose what she lacks to elevate her to a slightly higher level of popularity is a modest hit. Ben Folds had “Brick,” Lyle Lovett had “You Can’t Resist It” early on. One modest hit, raven on The Coffee House, would probably get her to sell at least 500-1000 seats.

  3. Peter says:

    Weird: For me there are hits on every single album. Bramble Rose, Stray Paper, Broken, Papercut, Spring, Real Good on my Own, Stitch… And many, many more… What defines a hit? Commercial success? I must admit that I don’t like Don Henley’s version of “Bramble Rose”, but for her it was a firecracker – great! I think that she loves what she’s doing anyway and knows very well that there is a huge crowd of people that understands what she’s trying to tell us. Something far beoyond Tr… Trrr…. uum… No, I don’t mention the name.

    • Dana says:

      In this context, I define a “hit” as something receiving some level of radio play–even if it’s on an acoustic or adult type station. I have never heard Tift on the radio, not once–not even on stations where her music would fit in quite well. I’m sure she has zero interest in being the next Taylor Swift, but probably wouldn’t mind getting to a Sarah Mcloughlin or Indigo Girls level of “commercial” success.

      • Peter says:

        I agree. The status of being a highly acclaimed “songwriter’s songwriter” may be satisfying artistically, but not financially. By the way, it was the radio that brought her to my attention. After Stray Paper was played I scribbled “Trifft Merrit”😊 Clay recently wrote that Tift would be “the ultimate NPR artist”. Tcha, I listened to a commercial-free special-interest station back then (as I still do)…

  4. Peter says:

    Have you ever heard of Helene Fischer? Most successful “musician” in Germany. Hits. Insignificant.

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