I had the opportunity to sing with the radiant Valerie June at the benefit for Every Mother Counts, an organization working towards quality, respectful, and equitable maternity care for all. Thank you to Christy Turlington Burns!
A collection of photos and videos marking the 20th anniversary ofMotherland.
Yonatan Tal – “Eretz Or”/”Land of Light”
It’s time for a little milestone. Twenty years ago, I was in the studio recording my third solo album, Motherland. The title song has been recorded by many musicians around the world since.
I’d like to share one of my favorite versions with you by an Isreali singer named Yonatan Tal. He performs a hauntingly beautiful Hebrew version, “Eretz Or”/”Land of Light” with translation by acclaimed Jewish poet and novelist, Tzruya Lahav (who also appears in this video).
Elton John on “Motherland”
“I think Natalie Merchant’s most recent album, Motherland, is the finest piece of work she’s ever made. I play this album non-stop. The title track is so like Jacques Brel it makes me cry; it’s just sensational stuff. The album is timeless; it does not sound as if it will ever date or you will ever get fed up with it. And that is such an incredible thing to achieve.”
-Elton John (Interview Magazine)
Photos Taken at Allaire Studios, 2001
Keale – “Motherland”
In 2014, a Hawaiian artist named Keale recorded an album titled, Motherland / Aina Kaula in which he included a beautiful version of my song “Motherland”. In the liner notes he described the song as “… a haunting anthem to our enduring connection to the Land.” In this video, hear Keale sing and explain the meaning of Aina Kaula.
Christy Moore – “Motherland”, from Burning Times and Live From Dublin
In 2006, I was honored when legendary Irish singer-songwriter Christy Moore recorded “Motherland” on his album, “Burning Times”. Three years later, when he released a live album, he included it in his set. Christy’s versions have been so popular that when I do “Motherland” in Ireland, they think I’m covering his song! You can hear both versions at the links in my bio. Learn more at www.christymoore.com.
“Put the Law On You”, performed at Austin City Limits
Continuing our celebration of MOTHERLAND’s 20th anniversary, here’s a performance of ‘Put the Law on You’ by kind permission of Austin City Limits TV.
“Build A Levee” Rehearsal, 2013
In June of 2013, I organized a benefit concert for victims of domestic violence and a film resulted called, SHELTER. I found this footage of my dear friends Simi Stone and Amy Helm rehearsing “Build A Levee” for the event.
“Tell Yourself” at Shaker Meeting Hall, 2009
This week’s Motherland 20th offering is a performance of “Tell Yourself” from a truly acoustic benefit to renovate the historic Shaker Meeting Hall at Watervliet, NY. Thank you to my helpmate who directed the audience sing-a-long.
Natalie Merchant, James Taylor, Roberta Flack, Tori Amos, Joan Armatrading, Rufus Wainwright and more on the 70s masterpiece in a recent article in the guardian.
Natalie writes: “It is a shock to admit that I could have been cognisant of an event that occurred 50 years ago, but my summer of 1971 memories are quite vivid. I was just seven, but I could feel the seismic changes of the times: they were shaking the foundations of my home. The earth was moving under my feet and the sky was tumbling down.My parents’ marriage was in pieces – my mother had thrown it against the kitchen wall in an effort to shatter the mould of her postwar, Catholic-American girl-self. She got a job, she wasn’t home when we came back from school, she didn’t drag us to mass on Sundays any more, she stopped wearing a bra, and she stopped loving our father…”
I’m excited to announce a very special event celebrating New York’s healthcare workers. On December 29 at 7pm, I hope you can join us for Montefiore-Einstein Presents “In A State Of Gratitude”, a virtual concert to celebrate our healthcare heroes.
You can watch the stream on Radio City Music Hall’s Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channel.
Starting in the spring of 2020, every evening at 7:00PM, New Yorkers clapped, cheered and banged pots and pans in support of the healthcare workers fighting to save lives.
This holiday season, in tribute to their bravery and resilience, Montefiore Health System brought together the Orchestra of the Bronx, Every Voice Choirs, Brooklyn United Music and Arts Program, and New Yorkers to show our gratitude to the healthcare heroes saving New York.
Since mid-March of this year, we’ve all slowed down. The pandemic has demanded that we abandon our usual blinding pace of life and shelter in place. We’ve all had more time than we ever expected to examine our lives during these days of pause and seclusion. Most of my friends have been excavating forgotten corners of their homes and offices and sharing their discoveries. In that spirit, I sat down today and listened to an album of mine, Butterfly for the first time since completing it three years ago. Two time worn (but painfully true) phrases are ringing in my ears now: “lost in the din” and “fallen between the cracks”. Butterfly was released, to very little fanfare, in late June of 2017 as part of a ten-solo album retrospective box set. I had a funny notion that its inclusion would create incentive for people to invest in the archaic format of a box of compact discs. I also created a bonus disc of curated obscure tracks and called it Rarities. After weeks of combing my archive, I put together a collection including: collaborations with David Byrne, Billy Bragg, Amy Helm, The Chieftains and Cowboy Junkies, live performances, studio outtakes, and unreleased covers by songwriters, Katell Keineg, Randy Newman, Ray Davies, Buddy Holly, and Joel Zoss. We held back the digital release of both these discs for a year to ensure that the box was unique. What a brilliant scheme!
Natalie will be this year’s recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Champion Award, established by The ASCAP Foundation to celebrate ASCAP members whose contributions extend beyond music to significant charitable and humanitarian efforts. Previous members who have received the award include Tony Bennett, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, Billy Joel, Richard Marx, John Mellencamp, Jason Mraz and Ne-Yo. The ceremony and performance will take place at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall.
Last night Natalie and Erik gave a special performance of “These Are Days” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and were joined by The Roots! They followed that with an encore acoustic performance of “Motherland.”
Natalie spoke to John Wilson of BBC Radio 4 for the new podcast These Three.
In each episode John talks to an artist, musician, writer, director, actor, photographer and other creative types about their artistic lives by focussing on three key works: a piece of work they’ve made that they’re especially proud of, one by someone else they wish they had made, and one they’re working on now.
Natalie discusses her song ‘Lulu’, ‘Ode To Billie Jo by Bobbie Gentry’, and a new song that’s a work in progress.