Our Top 10 10,000 Maniacs songs list spans several decades. Since their founding as Still Life in 1981, the band has produced nine albums in-studio, six Extended Play (EP) albums, and five live ones. The first album released by the band, Secrets of the I Ching, was put out under their own label, Christian Burial Music. Only 500 copies were produced. The name changed twice since then – first to Burn Victims and then to 10,000 Maniacs. 10,000 Maniacs has continued to have success, though they were particularly popular from 1987 to 1993. The band has gone through many changes to the lineup overtime, beginning with the original singer and songwriter, Natalie Merchant, who left the band before they released MTV Unplugged. The original lineup also included Rob Buck, John Lombardo, Jerome Augustyniak, Dennis Drew, and Steve Gustafson.
The band has a cult-like following for decades now, which has allowed them to flourish and supply the sound expected of 10,000 Maniacs. They hit their stride in the later half of the ‘80s, during which time they created many of the songs covered on the list below.
# 10 – More Than This
To start off our top 10 10,000 Maniacs songs list is “More Than This” which they released in 1997 on the Love Among the Ruins album. Love Among the Ruins was the first album in which Mary Ramsey sang vocals. “More Than This” peaked at number 25 in the United States and 96 in the United Kingdom. “More Than This” is one of two singles from the album, which were not meant to be included in the first place. It, alongside “All That Never Happens” and “Rainy Day” took the place of three songs that were removed from the track listing.
# 9 – Because the Night
Released in June of 1993, “Because the Night” was released on MTV Unplugged, which hit #13 on the Billboard Charts. A live version of the song was included in Playing Favorites, an album released with Mary Ramsey in 2016. The song was written by Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen. “Because the Night” peaked at #11 in the U.S. and #65 in the UK. In addition, the song was ranked #9 in Adult Contemporary and #7 in Alternative Songs. Since its release, the song has been covered by a variety of artists, including Co.Ro, Cascada, and Garbage.
# 8 – Few and Far Between
Written by Natalie Merchant, “Few and Far Between” was released on Our Time in Eden in August of 1993. The song peaked at #95 in the US, where it remained in the top 100 for a week. “Few and Far Between” was also released as both a single and an EP, which also featured the tracks “Candy Everybody Wants,” “To Sir with Love,” and “Let the Mystery Be.” Considered one of the two big hits of the album, the song went on to appear on Live Twenty-Five, which celebrated 10,000 Maniacs 25th anniversary. The release was also the first one featuring Oskar Saville, who was lead vocalist from 2002 to 2007.
# 7 – Everyday is Like Sunday
Produced originally by Morrissey in his debut solo album, Viva Hate, the song was covered by a variety of different bands. Released in February of 1993, “Everyday is Like Sunday” was a popular single that peaked on the charts in the US at #22. The song later was also covered by bands like The Pretenders, Colin Meloy, and The Impossible.
# 6 – Candy Everybody Wants
“Candy Everybody Wants” was released in 1992. It was the second single from Our Time in Eden. It was a collaboration between Natalie Merchant and Dennis Drew, who was the band’s keyboardist. The single was a hit in the US, where it peaked at #67 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on the US Alternative Airplay. The song is about sex and violence in media with particular references to TV. Merchant was reported as “amused” by the popularity of the song, given its message.
# 5 – These Are Days
Another song from Our Time in Eden, “These Are Days” was a number 1 hit on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks in 1992. The song was released by the band as one of their leading singles from the album. “These Are Days” celebrates the carefree wonder of youthfulness, a time that is rarely recognized until after it has already passed. In addition to Our Time in Eden, the song appears on Playing Favorites and MTV Unplugged.
# 4 – Eat for Two
“Eat for Two,” released on Blind Man’s Zoo in 1989, was written by Natalie Merchant. The track peaked at #12 on the US Alternative boards and #93 in the UK. It appeared on MTV Unplugged; Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure, and Unknown Recordings of 10,000 Maniacs; and individually as a single. “Eat for Two” is a song about a pregnant woman who is very young, but too far along to do anything about her pregnancy. The song influenced the R.E.M. song “Me in Honey,” which came out in the 1991 album Out of Time. The song takes the opposite perspective of “Eat for Two.”
# 3 – Trouble Me
Like the above song, “Trouble Me” is a track on Blind Man’s Zoo and the first single from the album. It was written by Dennis Drew, the keyboardist and one of three remaining founding members of 10,000 Maniacs. Natalie Merchant sang the song, which was dedicated to her father as he was hospitalized at the time. “Trouble Me” was highly popular throughout the US and UK. According to the Billboard charts, it reached #77 on the UK Singles Chart, #44 on the US Hot 100, #7 on the US Adult Contemporary, and #3 on the US Modern Rock Tracks. It is featured in an episode of the Dead of Summer series.
# 2 – What’s the Matter Here?
Released on In My Tribe in 1988, “What’s the Matter Here?” shines a light on society by focusing on abuse. Natalie Merchant’s lyrics speak of a woman struggling to figure out how to address a family near her who is abusing their child. She wants to ask, “what’s the matter here?”, yet feels that she can’t. Merchant explained the inspiration was close to home for her, as she grew up near a similar home. The song is a collaboration between Merchant and the guitarist, Robert Buck. The song was well-received, charting at #9 in the US.
# 1 – Like the Weather
The top song by 10,000 Maniacs was released on In My Tribe. Many songs from this album revolve around social commentary. “Like the Weather,” written by Natalie Merchant, revolves around the foul moods that can come when the weather is horrible. The song’s dark lyrics starkly contrast the upbeat tunes played by her bandmates. It was a popular song, peaking in 1988 at #37 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts. The song also appears on Playing Favorites, which was released in 2016 and sung by Mary Ramsey.
Top 10 – 10,000 Maniacs Songs – article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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