Music often carries a connection to a time in your life; maybe that’s why the death of David Bowie affected people so powerfully.

NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts recently featured a performance by Natalie Merchant, and it transported me back more than thirty years to a dingy bar in Plattsburgh, NY. The Rook was holding a show by 10,000 Maniacs, who at the time were an obscure indie band known only to college radio DJs and our tiny group of listeners.

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Ad from Cardinal Points, the SUNY Plattsburgh newspaper, January 20, 1983

The usual suspects attended, a small, ragtag crowd of students that made up the local new wave/post-punk contingent. It was not much of a scene, but as much of a scene as one could have in Plattsburgh, NY in 1983.

Naturally, Natalie Merchant was the center of attention. She was maybe nineteen, and her singing and movement on stage were exotic in a way that left us all deeply smitten. The band was crashing with a guy we knew, and at a post-show party we struggled awkwardly to make small talk. She was wisely having none of it.

So here we are, 33 years later. Look how old we’ve gotten! Personally, I think most people improve with age. Thank goodness.

4 thoughts on “Echoes

  1. Thanks for sharing a great memory! I saw her in an old gym at Amherst College in 1994 after she went solo and got to stand a few feet from where she was. She complained of a sore throat, but we couldn’t tell.

    1. That’s funny, the second time I saw her — warming up for Bob Dylan at the RPI Fieldhouse in 1999 — she had a terrible head cold. I was standing right in front of the stage, certainly close enough to be sneezed on, but thank god it didn’t come to that.

  2. I grew up in Plattsburgh and was at that show. Just did a search on it out of the blue and found your article immediately.

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