We called the music we made proletariat, aware of the fact that we were blue-collar small-town dwellers, geographically and culturally isolated. We wrote and rehearsed in a reconditioned worsted mill built alongside the dirty Chadakoin River that moved sluggishly through a sad and decrepit part of our hometown.
Most of the Carter-era public funding for the arts that had caused a bit of a local renaissance in the ’70s was dying up. We were beginning to feel the country’s shift to the right at the threshold of the Reagan-Bush era. We had a growing understanding that the recession of post-industrial towns like ours might not be temporary and that we were coming of age in an atmosphere of nostalgia and decay. We all still lived at home with our parents, none of us in a position to buy our emancipation.
—Natalie Merchant in 2004, about the first years of 10,000 Maniacs (from Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure and Unknown Recordings).