Quintessential Album Series :: In My Tribe (1987) :: 10,000 Maniacs
A Little History:
In My Tribe is the second major-label album (and third album) by 10,000 Maniacs, released in 1987. It was the bands first album that garnered large-scale success.
Co-founder John Lombardo left the band during a rehearsal on July 14, 1986 (the year prior to In My Tribe’s release). The remaining five members started recording a In My Tribe in Los Angeles, with Peter Asher as the producer.
In My Tribe, a more pop-rock oriented record, was released on Tuesday, July 7, 1987, hit the charts where it stayed 77 weeks, peaking at # 37 and established a large US audience for the group and was also well received in the UK.
The album’s success was timely, and needed. “There was a lot of pressure on us,” says keyboardist and band cofounder Dennis Drew told Rolling Stone magazine. “If Tribe hadn’t been successful, there never would have been another album.”
It took two years for In My Tribe to go platinum, but even the band agrees it was better late than never.
“The album gave us a great chance to really coalesce as a band,” Drew also told Rolling Stone magazine. “At that point we had to save our career and make a good record. We fucking buckled up, tightened our belt and did it.”
In My Tribe was ranked #. 65 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980’s.
In 1989, the cover of Cat Stevens’ Peace Train was removed from the U.S. CD version after comments made by Stevens (by now a Muslim convert and known as Yusuf Islam) that were perceived to be supportive of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie. The song remains on vinyl copies and CD’s released outside the United States. The song was later included in a 2-CD compilation,Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure and Unknown Recordings, released in 2004.
The front covers of both the original 1987 release and the 1989 re-release are black and white photographs of children practicing archery with bows and arrows.
What Makes This “Quintessential” to me?
I honestly cannot remember the first time I heard 10,000 Maniacs. That said, I cannot remember a time when their music didn’t matter to me, and wasn’t something that touched my life. I think it may have been a friend of mine in my Senior year of High School theater class that introduced me to this album, and to the band. I recall sitting backstage of our theater trading tapes with each other. I know I let him borrow an Erasure cassette I had, and I think it may have been In My Tribe that he let me borrow. I vividly remember playing it in that backstage area at lunch times when many of us would gather in there to hangout, or before performances of Fame and our take on 1970’s Saturday Night Live skits.
The Summer after High School I remember playing the album non-stop. Don’t Talk and What’s the Matter Here? were my initial favorites. Later, in my first semester of college, I would listen to the album nearly all the time, carrying it around in my tapestry bag, never far away from the songs. The Painted Desert, City of Angels and Verdi Cries became my favorites then, the latter my absolute favorite on the album, and on my ever-expanding favorite songs forever list.
I have the album on CD and cassette (both with Peace Train). I need to find it on vinyl, too.
I would see them live around the time of the album following this one, with “new” band The Wallflowers opening for them. One of my dearest friends and I sang-a-long to every song, and I remember that Natalie Merchant called up to the stage someone from the front rows to sing the Michael Stipe part of A Campfire Song. I cried when Verdi Cries was played, tears streaming down my face as I sang every word.
The same friend I was there with would come with me to see the band a few more times, and Natalie once on her own. I’d see her again at Lilith Fair, too.
Verdi Cries still makes me cry, even when just heard streaming through my car stereo, or my headphones.
My Top 5 Favorite Songs:
1. Verdi Cries
“Holidays must end as you know.
All is memory taken home with me:
the stolen tea,
the sand drawing,
he verging sea,
all years ago.”
2. The Painted Desert
“The stars were so many there,
they seemed to overlap.”
3. Don’t Talk
I can guess it.
well now your restless and you need somewhere to put the blame for how you feel inside.
You’ll look for a close and easy mark,
and you’ll see me,
as fair game.”
4. A Campfire Song (featuring Michael Stipe)
“Something is out of reach,
something he wanted.
Something is out of reach,
he’s being taunted.
Something is out of reach,
that he can’ beg or steal,
nor can he buy.”
5. Hey Jack Kerouac
“Hey Jack, now for the tricky part,
when you were the brightest star, who were the shadows?”