Today’s Random Weekend selection is the best-known song from one of the best albums of the 90s, Sarah McLachlan’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. This is a bonus track, a piano and vocals version of lead single ‘Possession.’ It strips away the glorious production of the original but is no less powerful. Maybe more so.
McLachlan wrote this song in the voice of an obsessed fan, something she unfortunately had plenty of back in the day.
Best Albums of the 90s – #8
Fumbling Towards Ecstasy – Sarah McLachlan (1994)
I’m contemplating a theory that excellent albums within a genre I don’t normally like receive an extra boost due to the odds they’ve overcome.
Last week’s example was Garbage’s Version 2.0. That album, and the band in general, features a heavy, borderline electronica sound that generally turns me off. But their particular execution of it works like gangbusters. I believe if I were a techno fan, that album might strike me as very good but not worlds better than my other favorite albums in the genre.
1993’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy was Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan’s third album. Sitting on the line between the more ethereal, goth, vampire-novel sound of her first two releases and the radio-friendly Lilith Fair pop of its smash follow-up Surfacing, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is gorgeous and sad and the best example of its genre I’ve ever heard.
This is an album-album. Scanning some of the titles — ‘Wait,’ ‘Plenty,’ ‘Mary,’ ‘Elsewhere,’ ‘Circle’ — I’m hard pressed to call any of them to mind. But when I play the opening seconds of any of them, they flood into my headphones with total familiarity. I’m just not used to hearing them individually, or referring to them by title, because they’re all a part of the greater suite.
When I first started the Song of the Day thing almost two years ago, my wife asked me if I thought I could really write something relevant about a new song every day. Was there really that much to say?
At the time, two or three songs in, I wondered the same thing. And my initial answer was that once in awhile I wouldn’t bother writing my thoughts on the song… I’d just throw it up there and write something like “this one’s funky and you can dance to it.”
I like a lot of female artists, but one sub-group I’ve never been a huge fan of is the Lilith Fair crowd. I know this isn’t an entirely fair characterization of Lilith Fair, because acts of all sorts have played there, but you know what I mean… those crunchy-granola types like Paula Cole, Jewel, Shawn Colvin, etc.
Now Sarah McLachlan is probably the godmother of Lilith Fair but she’s on my good side because she released one of the finest albums in my collection, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, back in 1993.