Thursday, November 25, 2010


Jealousy (from the album Tigerlily)

Ooo, jealousy

Is she fine
so well bred
the perfect girl
a social deb

Is she the sort
you've always thought
could make you
what you're not?

Ooo, jealousy

Is she bright so well read are there novels by her bed
Is she the sort
you've always said
could satisfy
your head?

Ooo, my jealousy

Does she talk
the way I do
is her voice reminding you
of the promises
the little white lies too
sometimes, tell me
while she's touching you
just by mistake
accidentally do you say my name?

I feel guilty, I really do. But this was bound to happen eventually. Under duress, even the most sycophantic music fan will admit that they don't like every single song that their favorite music maker has recorded. And while Natalie Merchant is far and away my favorite music maker, and there are very few of her songs that I don't like, Jealousy is one of those few.

But here's the thing - I think Jealousy is actually a good song. There are plenty of valid reasons for me to like it. First of all, the tune itself is quite catchy. It's not breaking any musical ground or anything, but it's pleasant and gently danceable. Then there are the lyrics. Are the lyrics the weak link? Well, no, not exactly. The lyrics are actually quite clever. Simple, funny, easy to sing along to. And, of course, Natalie's voice sounds great. It's a cute little pop song, wrapped up in a two minute and forty-two second bow.

So what exactly is my problem?

My problem is that Jealousy is not a Natalie Merchant song. It just isn't. It's frivolous, silly, petty. It's not that I'm against frivolity and silliness in general. I frequently listen with relish to songs from Leave Your Sleep about nasty ice cream, sneak eaters and reformed child-eating giants. And I respect and appreciate the long tradition of you-gone-done-me-wrong break-up songs. I listen to Aretha. And a couple of albums after Tigerlily, Natalie wrote one of the best you-gone-done-me-wrong (and I don't give a rip) break-up songs ever - I'm Not Gonna Beg. Even though the general theme is the same, though, that song is the song of a woman. Jealousy is the song of a girl.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I think Jealousy is a great song...for someone else to sing.

Okay, before you get massively annoyed with me for this outright rebellion against my own blog's muse, you should read this quote from Natalie from the liner notes of her Retrospective CD:

"This was my first stab at writing a truly frivolous song. It is so completely out of character that I hardly ever perform it live. I'm a little embarrassed by the catty pettiness of the lyrics, but the tune ended up being pretty catchy."

Oh, I'm feeling smug now. And justified. And still a little guilty.

One other quick note about the lyrics to Jealousy - I always laugh at the lines "Is she bright? So well-read? Are there novels by her bed? Is she the sort
you've always said, could satisfy your head?" I'm under no impression that this song is autobiographical in any way, but nonetheless this part really amuses me. Can you imagine a guy breaking up with Natalie Merchant because she's just not well-read enough? Who exactly would he be running away to? "Sorry, Natalie, I'm leaving you for the head archivist at the Library of Congress."

If you are a fan of women in brightly-colored pants and frequent and inexplicable scenes of large, dingy bras, I highly recommend you watch the music video for Jealousy here.

And if I haven't completely ruined it for you, you can download Jealousy at Itunes using this link - Jealousy - Tigerlily.

I've failed to mention this in the past, but I've set up an e-mail address for the Natalie Merchant Compendium Blog. The address is Feel free to e-mail me (or leave a comment, anyone can comment without signing up for anything) if you have particular songs you'd like featured on the blog soon. In the meantime, I'll just keep them coming randomly. I would also like to hear your thoughts on the blog, particularly if what you want to tell me is that this is the greatest blog ever, it saved you from jumping off a bridge, you can't imagine life without it and it's your reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Or you can send criticism. Whatever. But I really would love to hear from you.

See you next week!


  1. Hey Annie, Nice little article. If I remember correctly, there were two versions of this song. There was a pop version that was on Tigerlilly and then there was a slower, more introspective version that I remember hearing on the radio. Do You remember this? And do you know how Natalie felt about the two different versions?

  2. Hello Anonymous...The alternative version of Jealousy is on the Retrospective album. I like the music on the Tigerlily version a lot more. Not sure about Natalie's feelings. I'll be sure and ask her next time we hang out. ; )

  3. It is good to know that I am not the only one who didn't like this song.

  4. I always took the "Is she bright? So well-read? Are there novels by her bed?" lyric as a taunt. As in "there's no way she's smarter than me. I was the one who could satisfy you intellectually." Although, now that you mention it, you're probably right in your interpretation. That makes me chuckle as well. This dude either left her for a librarian or an English prof. ;)

    Also, I love this blog.

    - H.

  5. Wildflowerfever - I never considered the sarcastic interpretation. I like it! Love the name wildflowerfever, by the way. You'll definitely want to be checking the blog in the next couple of weeks. : )

  6. Im late, but needed to put my two cents in for those of us who only have heard the radio edit song of any relevant artist out there..( im exaggerating) I loved this song, yes because its catchy and i didnt have to think too deeply about it. You know I dont feel this way about most of the music i listen to. But It calls to mind a time in the 90's while i still wearing platform tennis shoes and knee socks, singing along in my bedroom. Thank you for including a song i know xoxo

  7. Taylor - Don't get too used to it. : )

  8. I also thought this song was song sarcastically and autobiographical in the part of Nat. Oddly enough, this song is played at my local gym all the time.

  9. oh my, you are so wrong about Jealousy! Talk about the art of capturing a fleeting emotional moment and putting it into an amazing pop tune! This song, perhaps even against Natalies' designs, when combined with the official video, and how she is captured dancing and making various eyes to the camera in it....and who she is dancing to and looking at.....talking too....and how the band wraps itself around her words (yes, seemingly autobiographical), and adds amplification to them, and somehow some amazing crew figured out how to shoot the vid and amplify or accentuate the lyrics of not anyone intended to (or not), the combination of artistry presented in the song/video combination becomes an amazing collaborative piece of performance art that speaks to the simple emotional depths of any listener who has ever been dealt a bad hand in a romantic relationship! Crap, this is one of the best songs of the 90's decade, and that with much stiff competition! Don't sell it short! (Even You, Natalie!). and yes, I know this is a very old thread! - Jim, Artcraft, Raleigh

  10. oh yea....and that aside of the fact that her voice and the bass line with the synth organ behind are pure sex.