CD of the Week :: In My Tribe (1987) :: 10,000 Maniacs


CD of the Week :: In My Tribe (1987) :: 10,000 Maniacs

I’ve gotten back into collecting CD’s, as well as vinyl, lately. It started when I took a trip last year to Portland and fell under the spell of an amazing record store, and its continued as I realize, more and more, how much I miss listening to albums as albums, from start-to-finish. I also have to admit that I missed having the actual albums (CD and/or vinyl) with cover art and inner sleeves with lyrics and liner notes. As a younger me, I used to spend hours lying no my floor reading the insides, memorizing the lyrics, and making the connections between albums, musicians, and everyone else beyond the known singers or band members.

As part of my return and celebration of albums I’m going to feature a CD  of the week and a VINYL of the week. It will replace the “quintessential series” I’ve featured in the past, though it will touch on some of the same elements.

I would love love love to see pictures of CD’s or VINYL you have, hear/read about some of your favorites, hear/read your recommendations, and also hear/read about some of your favorite places to get your albums at.

To start this off I grabbed my very worn CD copy of 10,000 Maniacs’ “In My Tribe” that features the later removed Cat Stevens’ cover of “Peace Train”. I’ve been spinning his in my car the past two mornings and have realized that I know the words to each and every song on this album – an obvious favorite ever since the album first came into my life, at the end of my high school years, in 1987.

I picked this up at Amoeba, in Hollywood, one evening when my daughters and I stopped in after a movie. It was very near closing and I spotted it as I walked by the used bin and snatched it up.


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 Stonemagazine. “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.


My thoughts:

It was a fellow drama student, my senior year of high school, that first told me about 10,000 Maniacs, and this album.

I remember 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.

I bought my own copy, soon after, on cassette.

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.

Listening again, these last two mornings, it is still those three songs that pull at my heartstrings and make me feel the all-over soul prickles when I sing-a-long. “Hey Jack Kerouac” has also become a favorite, too, and it is quite the earworm, sticking in my head all day long.


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 twice on her own (the second time, a few months ago). I’d see her again at Lilith Fair, too.

Verdi Cries still makes me cry. I think it always will, especially at the end of the song.

My Top 5 Favorite Songs:

1. Verdi Cries

“Holidays must end as you know.
all is memory taken home with me:
the opera, the stolen tea, the sand drawing, the verging sea,
all years ago.”

2. The Painted Desert

“The stars were so many there,
they seemed to overlap.”

3. City of Angels

“Where is the halo that should glow ’round your face,
and where are the wings that should grow from your shoulder blades?
Please show them to me.”

4. Hey Jack Kerouac

“Hey Jack, now for the tricky part,
when you were the brightest star, who were the shadows?”

5. Don’t Talk

“Don’t talk,
I can guess it.
Don’t talk,
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.”

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