I haven't listened to 10,000 Maniacs' Our Time In Eden in full since 1994. Ever since then, I haven't been able to stomach it. But tonight, I have listened to it in its entirety and I must say that I quite enjoyed it.
The reasons for its "persona non grata role" in my life are, as most things seem to be, complicated. It has a lot to do with my oft-told story about how my college roommate overplayed 10,000 Maniacs Unplugged CD. Many songs from Our Time In Eden were featured on that CD, and it kind of suffered by association. By the time he was done with it, I never wanted to hear most of those songs again, at least not in the unplugged format. As I have detailed before, we shared a close but antagonistic relationship, and even as recently as a couple years ago, whenever I tried to listen to the album, especially those tracks that crossed over to the Unplugged album, I had an overwhelming urge to turn it off. I also supremely hated how everyone declared themselves 10,000 Maniacs "fans" based on their love of "These Are Days" - which is admittedly a good song, but I have to wonder how many of those people bothered with the back catalog.
Our Time In Eden also never resonated with me like In My Tribe did, or even Blind Man's Zoo (which I liked significantly less than In My Tribe). In My Tribe made my top 5 favorite albums of all time list when I did that a couple years back, and honestly, it's still in there. As albums go, it is still one that I can listen to start-to-finish. It's more than a collection of songs, it's a cohesive whole, one that they tried to replicate to lesser success, in my opinion, with Blind Man's Zoo. In My Tribe, like so much of the music that has held on for me, came at a critical juncture in my life that I think even back then I recognized. It is an album that is like the closest of friends - you know just what it's going to elicit in you and you know exactly how to interact with it. Our Time In Eden, which came at no less critical of a juncture in my life, really failed to capture that feeling like In My Tribe did. For the longest time, whenever I would listen to it, I would cringe about bad decisions and failed relationships, which led to its decade and a half banishment.
But listening to Our Time In Eden tonight reminded me of the great songs on it - it goes so far beyond "These Are Days." Even "Candy Everybody Wants" which was horrendously overplayed and the chorus of which I can still hear my roommate singing, ("hey...hey...give 'em what they want") holds up. But songs like "Noah's Dove", "Eden" and "Circle Dream"? Gorgeous. It's hard to believe that they used to elicit such strong negative responses in me. It just goes to show that sometimes even after you think you've lost the music to a bad experience, it can come back around. Maybe there's hope for Girls Aloud yet.
It makes me want to head to the library before work tomorrow and pick up the Unplugged CD. But I don't know that I'm quite ready for that yet. I will never forgive the arrangement of "Eat For Two." A driving song about teenage pregnancy became a dirge on the Unplugged album, and when I played the original for my roommate after hearing the Unplugged version, he disliked it intensely and preferred the hideous Unplugged version. There's just no accounting for taste.
I wish Natalie's voice hadn't completely gone in the crapper. I could use a good 10,000 Maniacs reunion right about now.