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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Natalie Merchant's enchanting music

I'm dating myself now, but there was a time when the 10,000 Maniacs was part of my life's soundtrack, a cassette regularly popped into my car stereo for driving music.

Natalie Merchant, lead singer of the Maniacs, has released a new album of children's music called Leave Your Sleep that I found absolutely enchanting to listen to at 6:15 this morning. Her eclectic collection of tunes is set to classic poetry from a variety of nations. The King of China's Daughter is a song that has stuck with me all day and reminds me so strongly of my niece Natalie. Here is the text of the poem.

The King Of China's Daughter

The king of China's daughter
So beautiful to see
With her face like yellow water, left
Her nutmeg tree.

Her little rope for skipping
She kissed and gave it me
Made of painted notes of singing-birds
Among the fields of tea.

I skipped across the nutmeg grove
I skipped across the sea;
But neither sun or moon, my dear,
Has yet caught me.

Music has always been a special language for my niece that I don't fully understand. As a child on the autism spectrum, she has profound insights that are expressed in unusual ways. She describes songs by color, just as she describes people as colors. I'm yellow she always tells me with a big smile. :)

I wonder if she would call this "a blue song." Think I'll buy it for her and see what says.


Linda said...

Wendy, I heard Natalie Merchant talking about this album on NPR yesterday and wanted it immediately. Nice post! Hope things are going well for you.

Wendy A. Hoke said...

Hi Linda!!! So good to hear from you. Hope all is well with you. LOVE the blog by the way.

Wendy A. Hoke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AndreaG said...

I don't know if your niece is on the Autism spectrum or not, but hearing sounds (etc.) in colour is not exclusive to it. Two of my three daughters had the same "condition", which is called synesthesia. Now that they are adults in their late thirties, it has somewhat subsided, but neither of them has ASD.

You can read more about synesthesia here: