I’m kinda of the opinion that we’re not really far enough away from the 90s to truly do 90s nostalgia right. That certainly doesn’t keep us from trying, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The trouble for me with 90s nostalgia is that it’s divided straight up down the middle. 1990-1995 were my college years proper defined by and large by the experience of getting an undergraduate degree (pharmacy was a 5 year program at the time). Between 1996 and 1999, it was kind of a free for all and one of the most undefined times of my life, held together only by Heidi’s and my relationship. I frequently say that I kind of lost my 20s to being depressed and anxious, which would imply that it was a complete waste, but as more time passes, I’m able to see the folly of that time. I did have a life, it just may not have been the one I thought I should be having. But my therapist tells me that the word “should” is toxic and is rarely, if ever, about what we want and is more about others want for us.
Anyway, all that preamble is mostly just the long way of saying that I’m listening to one of my most memory filled mid-90s albums this morning – Amanda Marshall’s eponymous debut album. Released in 1996, it would have never even appeared on my radar had it not been for my long-time friend Jeff who bought it and sang its praises. Largely forgotten in 2014, she enjoyed massive success in her native Canada and some mild success here in the U.S, primarily from the single “Birmingham.” Much like Shawn Colvin’s “Sunny Came Home”, the protagonist of the song is a victim of domestic abuse, but instead of burning down the house Talking Heads-style, Amanda packs her bags and drives away, trying to figure out what the future holds.
‘Cause there’s another chance and someday soon
Shining like the Alabama moon
She’s looking for her promised land
Out beyond the lights of Birmingham
It also had a pretty great music video to go along with it.
I love how Marshall’s voice can be both subdued and then come on like lion’s roar. I’m also pretty sure that she benefited from Sheryl Crow’s widespread popularity at the time.
So many songs on the album hold so many mid-to-late 90s memories. “Fall From Grace” was the working title of one of Heidi’s first manuscripts. “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” eventually got recorded by LeAnn Rimes which I’m sure filled Marshall’s pockets at least a little bit. And years after I played Marshall’s version into the ground, I discovered that Anne Murray recorded “Trust Me (This is Love).”
Sadly, Marshall has mostly disappeared from the music world – sounds like due to legal troubles with former management. Her second album was a dud, but the 3rd album was pretty decent. Her Wikipedia page says that a new album is due in 2013, and since that’s come and gone with no album, who knows if we’ll ever have new music from her again. But even if there isn’t, we’ll always have the debut and “Birmingham” which takes me back to my mid 20s like few other albums do.