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Given the popularity of my post about Alanis Morissette’s song Thank U yesterday, I thought I’d see if i could push my luck and drop another post today!

Sarah McLachlan’s Possession is another song I hear all the time at work, and all the ladies sing along and think it’s a pretty song. One even said she thought it was a love song, about passion. Well it is, in a way, but…

Released in 1993, this song is about how McLachlan had some stalkers who sent her letters much to the effect of the lyrics of this song, and it was creepy as hell. Why would she write a song about something so frightening? She was taking the power back, baby. She was saying no, you can’t do this to me. And for that, no matter that I generally don’t listen to her music, I give her full goddamn points.

From Wiki: The song was inspired by McLachlan’s reaction to two deranged fans of hers, both of whom had concocted a fantasy in which they were already in a relationship with McLachlan. Of the two, the more famous is Uwe Vandrei, an Ottawa, Ontario native who sued McLachlan in 1994, alleging that his love letters to her had been the basis of “Possession”. Vandrei had written and sent McLachlan love poems, although there is no direct connection between those poems and the lyrics of “Possession”. Vandrei’s lawsuit never came to trial as he committed suicide in autumn 1994.

In an interview with Rolling Stone three years later, McLachlan said, “And this one person wasn’t the only guy … there were a lot of letters from other people saying the same kind of thing … Writing the song ‘Possession’ was very therapeutic.” She also stated that, since the release of “Possession”, she had stopped getting stalker-type fan letters, for which she was grateful.

When I told the ladies at work to actually listen and understand, they stopped singing along. No shit.

The chorus is particularly troubling when taken in the stalker context: “And I would be the one to hold you down / Kiss you so hard, I’ll take your breath away / And after I’d wipe away the tears / Just close your eyes, dear.”


Check it out:

Listen as the wind blows from across the great divide
Voices trapped in yearning, memories trapped in time
The night is my companion and solitude my guide
Would I spend forever here and not be satisfied?

And I would be the one to hold you down
Kiss you so hard, I’ll take your breath away
And after I’d wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes, dear

Through this world I’ve stumbled so many times betrayed
Trying to find an honest word, to find the truth enslaved
Oh, you speak to me in riddles and you speak to me in rhymes
My body aches to breathe your breath, your words keep me alive

And I would be the one to hold you down
Kiss you so hard, I’ll take your breath away
And after I’d wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes, dear

Into this night I wander, it’s morning that I dread
Another day of knowing of the path I fear to tread
Oh, into the sea of waking dreams, I follow without pride
‘Cause nothing stands between us here and I won’t be denied

And I would be the one to hold you down
Kiss you so hard, I’ll take your breath away
And after I’d wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes, dear

I’ll hold you down
Kiss you so hard, I’ll take your breath away
And after I’d wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes

Sarah McLachlan – Fumbling Towards Ecstacy

Thanks to my recent attempts at library reorganization, here is yet another CD I really don’t remember buying, and had no idea was even in the house…

This is a review more of my reaction to this artist (and her fans) moreso than this album, though I will talk about the record as well.

Half a lifetime ago, I strongly disliked Sarah McLachlan, and it had nothing to do with the music. This was totally a situation where, as the mighty Sloan said, “it’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans.” I knew many young women who referred to this artist as Sarah, as if they knew her personally. Her music spoke to them. If I ever said ANYTHING about her that even in any miniscule way could be construed as minor disagreement with their firmly-held love for all things Sarah, they were immediately defensive and I was an asshole and just wrong wrong wrong. It was a cult. There, I said it.

I was even told once, by a young woman (and I’m paraphrasing, after all these years) that “I couldn’t possibly understand Sarah because I’m not a woman.” Hahaha what. Hooboy.

So, of course, I stayed well and the hell away from it all. I just didn’t care enough. And if it meant hanging around those rabid close-minded assholes (yeah that’s right, back atcha, baby), I wanted nothing to do with it. It was no big loss for me – I thought it sounded very same-y to me, anyway.

I also disliked that vocal slide/crack thing she does. It’s an affectation I can do without – I know the lady can sing very well without it. But I do love this album’s title. I think we’re all fumbling towards some sort of ecstacy in our lives. So there’s that.

Anyway, if you’ve read this far, what did I get out of the record now, 21 years after its release?

It’s actually fairly hypnotic, very capably-played jazzy rock electronic pop and piano music. It’s really very strong. Her vocals work perfectly with it, which has to be why it’s so popular too. This time around, I still liked her singing but still very much disdained the vocal affectation thing. Ah well. We all have things we’re known for – with her, it’s that cracked voice thing, with me it’s GIVE ‘ER! So be it.

There are lots of hit songs here, you know what they are. And the ones that weren’t hits are strong enough too. It’s a solid enough record, in and of itself and for the kind of music it is. It was built for the early 90s.

There were a couple of weaker songs. I definitely could do without the falsetto garbage of both Mary, and Fear. The song called Ice is one step up from those Enya wannabes that play harp at the mall and try to sell you CDs and crystals. But I really like the jazzy swing of Ice Cream, and probably the strongest song here is one called Elsewhere.

You know, I always thought Hold On would make a great punk song. The chords are so simple: G D C, and the chorus Am D Am C, and one last bit that’s Em G C D, Em G C D Am D Am C G. Seriously, just speed the damn thing up! “Hold on, hold to yourself ‘cos this is gonna hurt like hell!” Could totally be a punk song, two minutes or less. Go go go!

If I worked at a record label and heard this album without knowing anything about the artist, I’d tell you it was gonna be a hit. It just has that quality to it.

But, after discovering it in its dusty pit downstairs, after all this time, and honestly not even remembering when I would have bought the damn thing, how much will I play this CD now that I’ve heard it for review? Not that much, and I am highly unlikely to go buy more of her CDs because of this playback. But I disliked it less now than I did back then. Probably because I don’t know any rabid cult member Sarah fans anymore, so I’m free to think what I want about it.

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