: 10,000 Maniacs
From The Album
: Our Time In Eden
: Rob Buck
and Natalie Merchant
This is a very uplifting number from the folk-rock group 10,000 Maniacs. Featuring (as usual at the time) Natalie Merchant on lead vocals, the song is perhaps their most popular, ushering in an age of mainstream success for the group that eventually led to Natalie leaving the group and producing some great solo albums.
But there is something that this song captures, not only for me, but for so many people of my age (longwinter, for example). This song was all over the airwaves in 1992, just as I was starting to feel the oncoming freight train of hormones that mark adolescence for so many of us.
I surely can't be the only teenage boy in America who had a poster of Natalie Merchant on his wall; in fact, it was a blown up picture of her from the inside of the sleeve from Our Time In Eden.
At thirteen years old, I was probably at the peak of my life; the freight train of adolescence had not quite yet knocked me from my pedestal.
Yes, at the time I felt it: 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.
I was riding at the figurative top of a roller coaster peak when this song entered my life. My primary school years were full of hazing and hatred; I was often beat up on the playground because I was inept at kickball or dodgeball or whatever the flavor of the month was.
But somehow I had overcome this. I think it was a multitude of things that occurred, actually; I kept up a good nature through all of it, and then the fact that a particular individual took things to a point with me where the other students began to realize something was wrong with the situation entirely. This individual's father went so far as to begin harassing my other family members, and tales of this reached the local newspaper.
And then the taunting and such slowly disappeared. I faded into the woodwork, I suppose, but to me it felt like complete freedom. I went to school without fear. I felt like the king of the world, truly I did. And that was 1992 for me, the year I discovered this song and began to touch the faintest edges of adulthood.
And as you feel it, 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.
I remember the first time I heard this song, like it was yesterday. I woke up to Natalie Merchant's voice that morning, singing her larynx out from behind the cheap speakers of my clock radio. It was a cool morning, and I had left the window open the night before, so there was a breeze of cool air blowing in my window, tossing the curtains about. I laid there on my bed, on my side, the wind blowing across my cold skin as I stared out the window at the oncoming day.
It was a moment in time, truly it was. I often think that it was that day, that moment, that was the peak. It was truly the top of the rollercoaster ride, and that it's all been downhill from there. I trusted myself, I believed in myself, and I didn't feel alone.
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.
And somehow that whole sentiment is captured here, at least for me. I remember those halcyon days and long to touch them. I see now how every day was filled with small miracles and happiness. I long for that moment quite often, that point where I was beginning to understand the world but the shroud of innocence still covered me.
The year had an amazing fall. I wrote about it in some of my earliest journal entries, in those first two volumes that I still have in a secret place. I taped a leaf to a piece of paper, and by all miracles it is still largely intact. I also began a tradition of taping a piece of hair to pages on occasion, so I could touch and see what was a part of me when I wrote it.
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.
I discovered music that year. The love affair had already begun with Doolittle before then, but I discovered so much more in 1992: Gish, Daydream Nation, Murmur, Tim, Lincoln; so many records and albums and new thoughts and experiences flowed into my ears. All somehow to the tune of Natalie's voice.
I read 1984 for the first time. I read The Catcher in the Rye for a second time, and finally understood it. I read David Copperfield and Brave New World and On The Road. I read Howl; the first line took my breath away.
I spent that summer fishing. I would get up early in the morning with my father and we would slip our boat out on the river, before dawn had cracked the horizon. Together, we would pull in the lines and see what catch the day had brought us. It was something we did together, one of the few things; I have always felt a bond with my father, but we have never really had a great deal in common.
I was pressed quickly through mathematics at a fast rate that year, accelerating far past the other students in my grade and actually taking math courses with students two or three grades above me. It was finally a challenge rather than a cakewalk... and I enjoyed every single second of it.
I felt the first beginnings of love occasionally twist through me. I fell quite hard for a girl who moved away around Christmastime; I have never fallen like that since. She never knew it.
These are days. I knew it then. I still know it now.
These are days.
Perhaps it was the remaining vestiges of youth. Perhaps it was just that particular mix of hormones as I began to grow up. Perhaps it was just the right mix of places and things.
But that year and that song remain in my heart.
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
It's true, you'll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know they're speaking to you.
I felt as though I were the center of the universe. I believed I could do anything or be anything I wanted. My life was changing; I was discovering new things and new feelings. It was a new world.
And Natalie sang to me.
So what is this song about? It's clear that the song describes the best period of one's life, the one that you'll remember and recall in the future. For each person, it's a different moment; it's one that only you can feel.
But what is this song really about? I think it's about remembrance; about not letting go of the good memories to get rid of the bad ones.
This song transports me to a better place and time, when the world seemed to be entirely within my grasp. The ability to recall those times is one of the most valuable things in my life.
These are the days.