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These Are Days by 10,000 Maniacs

Spring is my favourite time of the year in New Zealand – the days get longer and sunnier. I don’t have a song that I associate with any other season, but my spring song is 10,000 Maniacs’ ‘These Are Days’. The song captures a feeling of optimism and hope that I associate with lengthening days and warmer weather – I only noticed when I was writing this post that the song mentions the month of May, which is spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

The group played it at Bill Clinton’s MTV Inauguration in 1993, and it’s one of their best known songs, from Natalie Merchant’s final studio album with 10,000 Maniacs – 1992’s Our Time In Eden. The group evolved from arty college rock on 1983’s Secrets of the I Ching into a star vehicle for Merchant with hits like this and the 1993 live cover of ‘Because The Night’. Merchant dominates the music video and it’s hardly surprising that she launched a solo career with 1995’s Tigerlily.

I have mixed feelings about producer Paul Fox’s work with other bands like XTC and Straitjacket Fits, but there’s a beautiful arrangement here. My favourite moments in the song are all in the third verse (from about 2:18 in the video below) – the drum fill, the lyric “you might fill with laughter until you break”, the descending bass run, and the vocal echo on the word light. The image of Merchant dancing above the cityscape is the perfect visual accompaniment.

This week New Zealand commemorated the 125th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote – the first country in the world to do so, in 1893. It seems appropriate to discuss this week, as if I could imagine any pop star as a 19th century suffragette, it would probably be Natalie Merchant. As part of the coverage, media reprinted an article from 1893, a male-written editorial responding to the suffrage decision, that’s clearly ended up on the wrong side of history. Here are some highlights – you can read the full article at https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/107059425/the-day-nzs-shrieking-sisterhood-forced-the-vote-on-womenly-women

Obviously it is now the duty of every woman in New Zealand to get her name placed on the electoral roll.

To refuse to do so will be to give the shrieking sisterhood an influence in the elections out of all proportion to their legitimate claims.

 

We believe that a very large number of women do not desire to vote.

They shrink from having to go to the polling booths on election days.

They would much prefer staying at home and attending to their household duties.

These are days
These are days you’ll remember
Never before and never since
I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
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 in you, in you

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
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

These are days

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, to you

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