Sisters in Song

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This morning as I was waiting in line at Crumbs suppressing the urge to buy a cupcake and preparing to order my grande Blonde Blend Starbuck’s coffee (did you know Crumbs sells Starbuck’s coffee now?) I was very pleased and oddly comforted when a familiar voice fell upon my ears – it was that of one of my favorite songstresses, Sarah McLachlan. Crumbs must have quite the collection of 90s hits rotating through its system because my colleagues and I also recently heard the not-well-known-to-them but adored-by-me U2 song “Even Better Than the Real Thing” – not once, but twice, within a matter of days.

Anyway, point being, I am a child of the 90s – or at least that was when, in high school, I was really starting to get to know my true musical tastes, exploring and discovering a range of artists both unknown and established – rather than being entirely influenced by what was constantly in rotation on New York’s Hot 95 or Z100. One of the many artists I met and fell in love with at that time was Ms. McLachlan. Never before had I heard such an eclectic blend of electronica and pop/rock with a focus on piano coupled with the perfect blend of complementary instrumentation, backing inventive, lyrical poetry delivered by Sarah’s angelic, transcendent voice.  Needless to say, I was an instant fan and as a singer myself, I was constantly inspired by her. I even learned how to play several of her songs on piano which led me to start writing music myself. I owned all her albums and even made the trek to Lilith Fair in the pouring rain circa 1997 to see her perform live. Literally, my friends and I were so amped up that we chose to hike up the mountain to get to the venue (I believe it was Montage Mountain in PA) and it started pouring half way up – at which point it was too late to turn back and catch one of the buses that we were previously too impatient to wait in line for. So we kept on, and ended up sitting through the entire concert in soaking wet jeans, yet somehow managed to enjoy every second of it. It was an experience I will never forget.

Since that time, Sarah has always held a special place in my heart. Every time I hear her music I’m transported back to college where she was, among a few other select artists, essential to the soundtrack of my life. Few artists have that effect on me, but she certainly still does, as I discovered this morning when a feeling of nostalgia rushed over me at Crumbs. To keep the feeling alive, when I got to my office I logged onto Pandora and typed in her name. I was beyond pleased when the first song to pop up was “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” which any McLachlan fan will tell you was one of her most lyrically intense and musically inventive compositions.  I enjoyed every second but was instantly deflated when Pandora chose to give me Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” as the follow up. Really, Pandora? Is that the best you can do? While “Torn” was certainly a hit in its own right (if even for a brief moment), I would hardly insult Sarah and put Natalie in the same genre let alone the same Pandora station! So I “skipped” (of course) and was served up yet another Natalie… this time, it was thankfully Natalie Merchant. And all was right with the world as I happily listened to her, followed by Norah Jones, then Dido, then back to Sarah. Despite the initial blunder, I’d say Pandora ultimately redeemed itself and created a fine collection of female artists for my listening pleasure. While they may not all have appeared at a Lilith Fair, they are certainly sisters in song. And although they are all unique and certainly not interchangeable, they are undeniably of the same ilk, and it’s not far-fetched that a fan of one would enjoy 3 minutes of the other before returning back to the reason they logged onto Pandora in the first place.

With that in mind, voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these female artists in rotation on Pandora’s Sarah McLachlan station is your favorite?

Norah Jones
Sarah McLachlan
Natalie Merchant

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