Friday, November 5, 2010

If No One Ever Marries Me

If No One Ever Marries Me (from the album Leave Your Sleep; words by Laurence Alma-Tadema)


If no one ever marries me,
And I don't see why they should,
For nurse says I'm not pretty.
And I'm seldom very good.

If no one ever marries me
I shan't mind very much;
I shall buy a squirrel in a cage,
And a little rabbit-hutch.

I shall have a cottage near a wood,
And a pony all my own,
And a little lamb quite clean and tame,
That I can take to town.

And when I'm getting really old,
At twenty-eight or nine,
I shall buy a little orphan-girl
And bring her up as mine.

Before we get started on this week's song, I have a few housekeeping notes. First off, I'd like to say a hearty thank you to those of you who have submitted comments and e-mailed me with suggestions and even a bit of praise. I'm excited to see the increase in traffic on the site and I hope you keep the feedback coming.

Additionally, beginning this week and continuing whenever possible I will be providing a link to a video pertaining to the current week's song. (Thanks for the suggestion, Steven!) I will also begin providing an Itunes link to each week's song so that in the tragic event that you do not currently own the song under discussion, you can remedy that situation immediately.

Lastly, a big shout-out to Joshua for providing the lovely picture that now graces the header of this blog. That being said, given my complete lack of knowledge about how copyright laws work in relation to internet blogs/fan sites, I really hope this doesn't get me in trouble. I think this is the part where I should officially state, "This blog is in no way endorsed by Natalie Merchant or her management, record company, agent, official website, family members, pets, childhood best friend, next door neighbor, chiropractor, yoga instructor or housekeeper. Thank you."

Back to our previously scheduled programming:

Leave Your Sleep caught me off guard.

Not its very existence. I, along with many other Merchant fans, first heard about the project a good two years or so before it was released. I waited with anticipation for a release date and I bought the album the day it came out. But I hadn't spent a lot of time reading about the project and I had in no way formed an opinion on what I was about to hear. It was like going to movie I hadn't seen the trailer for. My lack of research wasn't based on apathy, but on trust. I had long ago been won over by Natalie's musical choices, so even if the promotional sticker on the album had said, "Natalie Merchant sings Ted Nugent covers with a Polka band" I would have purchased it without a second thought. Well...without a third thought.

I anticipated that it would be great, but I did not anticipate what an effect it would have on me. I listened to the first six songs in my car on the way home from work and I felt a musical euphoria that I hadn't felt in some time. I was at times smiling, laughing, teary-eyed and probably in general looking a bit like a psychopath to passing drivers. I can't wait to talk about all the many wonders on this most delicious album, but this is a one-song-at-a-time blog, so I better get down to business.

I chose If No One Ever Marries Me as the first Leave Your Sleep song to discuss on this blog, not because it is my favorite, although I do like it very much, but because it is the song that I believe best illustrates why this album, with words written by just about every person who's ever lived EXCEPT Natalie, is well and truly a Natalie Merchant album.

The words to this poem could've been interpreted musically in so many ways. They're a bit wacky at times, with mentions of squirrels in cages and rabbit hutches. Can you imagine this song as an upbeat little ditty, in the style of say, Calico Pie or Adventures of Isabel? I surely can, and I think it would've been quite fun to have that version of this song.

The words also contain a bit of a wink, with lines like "When I'm getting really old, at twenty-eight or nine..." Perhaps the music could've taken on a satirical tone. That could've been fun too.

There are also some who would take the words of this poem to be quite sad. "If no one ever marries me, And I don't see why they should, For nurse says I'm not pretty, And I'm seldom very good." This song could've easily been a weeper, the one you put on right after you get dumped by your significant other and you have an overwhelming need to feel sorry for yourself.

But the song is none of those things. And, sort of...all of them. I tried in vain to find a good quote from Natalie to include in this week's blog, but alas, I could not find what I was looking for. I remember, though, hearing her say in an interview that she felt that among other things, the poem had a note of both resignation and defiance to it. The music Natalie crafted to accompany this poem seems to me to be the perfect choice to blend all of the many emotional elements contained in it. While some might decry the fact that Natalie's last two records have been devoid of her own beautiful lyric-writing, this song illustrates why her fans haven't lost out on anything. This is undeniably a Natalie Merchant song.

During the one performance of the Leave Your Sleep tour I had the pleasure to experience, this song seemed to stop people dead in their tracks, so to speak. You could've heard a pin drop in the theater (which is really how it should be all the time, but I digress.) The only sounds I did hear were the sort of hushed "Mmm" sounds people make when they've lost access to words and are only able to emote on the most primitive level. It was quite magical indeed.

That's all for my commentary this week, kids. Tune in next time for a look at a truly depressing, cry-yourself-to-sleep, I-just-can't-go-on-living song. Any guesses?

Here is a link to a lovely performance of Natalie singing this song with the accompaniment of her two talented guitarists. Oh, and there's a little bonus song at the end! Click here

Buy If No One Ever Marries Me on Itunes: If No One Ever Marries Me - Leave Your Sleep


  1. Thank you for posting the link to the video's it makes the whole experience complete! I could have made this my song in early January of 2009.. love it. Thanks again Annie. ( Great picture Josh :)

  2. my favorite from the album. The voice, the lyrics and music grab the emotions, holding you still. Magnificent!