Skip to content

Great B-Sides: Hello in There by 10,000 Maniacs

Folk-rock band 10,000 Maniacs often recorded covers for their b-sides; a smart move, as they showcased how cool their record collections were, and Natalie Merchant’s affected accent always gave their versions a point of difference. ‘Hello In There’ was featured on the b-side of their 1989 single ‘You Happy Puppet’. It’s a cover taken from the rich back-catalogue of John Prine, the Illinois singer-songwriter.

“I wrote ‘Hello In There’ on the mail route.

I’d heard the John Lennon song Across The Universe, and he had a lot of reverb on his voice. I was thinking about hollering into a hollow log, trying to get through to somebody – Hello in there. That was the beginning thought; then it went to old people. I’ve always had an affinity to old people. I used to help a buddy with his newspaper route and I’d deliver to a Baptist old people’s home where you’d have to go room -to-room and some of the patients would kind of pretend that you were a grandchild or nephew that had come to visit instead of the guy delivering papers.

That always stuck n my head. It was all that stuff together, along with that pretty melody. I don’t think I’ve done a show without singing Hello In There, nothing in it wears on me.”

John Prine

Writing about old people isn’t a common rock star move, and Prine was in his mid twenties when he released his classic debut album, from which ‘Hello In There’ is drawn.

Prine’s original is the keeper for me, but I’m glad that we have 10,000 Maniacs version too, drawing attention to a superlative songwriter who has often flown under the radar. The second disc of 10,000 Maniacs’ Campfire Songs is a surprisingly enjoyable listen, featuring other covers of David Bowie, Tom Waits, Jackson Browne, and Morrissey.

We had an apartment in the city
Me and Loretta liked living there
Well, it’d been years since the kids had grown
A life of their own left us alone
John and Linda live in Omaha
And Joe is somewhere on the road
We lost Davy in the Korean war
And I still don’t know what for, don’t matter anymore

Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello”

Me and Loretta, we don’t talk much more
She sits and stares through the back door screen
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we’ve both seen
Someday I’ll go and call up Rudy
We worked together at the factory
But what could I say if asks “What’s new?”
“Nothing, what’s with you? Nothing much to do”

So if you’re walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes
Please don’t just pass ’em by and stare
As if you didn’t care, say, “Hello in there, hello”




13 thoughts on “Great B-Sides: Hello in There by 10,000 Maniacs Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Old Souls

Bringing the Old Soul style from Reü's Room

Drew's Reviews

Music Reviews You Won't Get Anywhere Else - Concert reviews, album reviews, sometimes a book review and the occasional artist interview when the timing hits just right.

sori1982

"It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive..." (Bruce Springsteen, "Badlands")

Noakes family in PNG

Stories from the Swamp

Musical Musings of a Mangled Mind

Music that will get you singing

timeweleftthisworldtoday

This world's so mixed up everywhere you go

El Burrito Blog

Entertainment wrapped in one bite.

Ted Tocks Covers

Music is Life...Original Songs and Cover versions

%d bloggers like this: