Utne Reader recently talked to Natalie Merchant about her latest album, Leave Your Sleep, a collection of 26 historical poems set to music-
The day after my daughter was born. I think [new mothers] are pretty evenly divided: The women who go into a postpartum depression and the ones who go into a crazy euphoria. And I went into a crazy euphoric state.
I knew that I was going to be responsible for introducing her to the world, and language, and music, and spirituality, and nature—everything. The doors of the world were going to open to her through me. And I didn’t realize it so much until I was holding her in my arms. I had all this energy, and yet I had to nurse my baby five, six hours a day. I was trapped in a chair with all this energy, but I noticed there was a book of poems that I had bought for her—an anthology of poetry was sitting on the shelf near the chair where I was nursing her. So I just started looking through the book and marking pages that I found interesting. I thought I would begin with lullabies, and that’s the album I would make for her. I also realized I wanted to sing lullabies to her but I just didn’t know any. So I thought, ‘I’ll just write my own.’ But I felt kind of hobbled, because I couldn’t really use my hands. (laughs) So I started singing these poems into these melodies, into a recording device. That’s how I started the record, and it kind of grew from that. That was almost seven years ago.
Read the rest here.
Natalie Merchant performs at LPR as a part of the PEN Festival Cabaret on May 1st. Get tickets here.