Song Lyric Sunday – Carnival

Welcome to another Song Lyric Sunday post! This week we have been given the prompts of Carnival, Festival, Gala, Jamboree and Party suggested by Lady A.

I have chosen a song that I have liked for some time called “Carnival” by Natalie Merchant. It has a moody sound that appeals to me so hope you like it.

Just for fun, and because I have not used a Van Morrison song in a long time, I am indulging myself today. His song, “And It Stoned Me” begins with the line “Half a mile from the county fair” Albeit just one line referencing a carnival but it fits the prompt. It is also one of my favorite Morrison songs, Enjoy them both!

The Song

Natalie Merchant grew up in rural Jamestown, New York, which is in the western part of the state south of Buffalo. That’s where she formed 10,000 Maniacs in 1981, a group she was with until 1993 when she left to go solo. This track from her first album is what she calls her “New York song,” as it’s written about New York City.

Merchant explained in a VH1 Storytellers appearance: “‘Carnival’ really evokes for me what it’s like to walk down any avenue in the City. I grew up in the country, so the nearest thing I ever experienced to walking down the street in New York before I was 16 and I came here for the first time was a carnival – the Stockton Gala Days actually. I’d never seen people walking down the street eating before – that was a bizarre experience. We in the country sit down to take our meals – that just blew me away.

Something else I’d never seen before were the gentlemen with the two-sided placards that hand out invitations to peep shows, but I never seemed to get one – they always picked the guys around me. It’s an amazing city, but what I love about it even more than places like Los Angeles is that everybody at sometime has to deal with other people. It’s not a car culture here. I like that: people have to rub against each other. I like to take the subway, I like to study people’s faces, try to imagine their stories. In the song, I see the city as a stage, as a spectacle, as a carnival, and as a madhouse, because sometimes it is that, it’s a totally insane place to live. When I was 16 and I visited for the first time, I said, ‘I’m going to live here someday.’ You’ve got to be careful what you wish for because sometimes it comes true.”

This song was played at the funeral of serial killer Aileen Wuornos as part of her final request. She had listened to the song and the entire album Tigerlily continually while on death row. When confronted with this, Natalie was initially shocked but gave permission to use the song in the documentary Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, saying that “It’s very odd to think of the places my music can go once it leaves my hands. If it gave her some solace, I have to be grateful.” Wuornos was also the subject of the film Monster.

Merchant performed this song, along with “Wonder,” on an episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by David Schwimmer in 1995.

The Lyrics

Well, I've walked these streets
A virtual stage, it seemed to me
Makeup on their faces
Actors took their places next to me

Well, I've walked these streets
In a carnival, of sights to see
All the cheap thrill seekers vendors and the dealers
They crowded around me

Have I been blind have I been lost
Inside myself and my own mind
Hypnotized, mesmerized by what my eyes have seen?

Well, I've walked these streets
In a spectacle of wealth and poverty
In the diamond markets the scarlet welcome carpet
That they just rolled out for me

And I've walked these streets
In the madhouse asylum they can be
Where a wild-eyed misfit prophet
On a traffic island stopped and he raved of saving me

Have I been blind, have I been lost
Inside myself and my own mind
Hypnotized, mesmerized by what my eyes have seen

Have I been wrong, have I been wise
To shut my eyes and play along
Hypnotized, paralyzed by what my eyes have found
By what my eyes have seen
What they have seen?

Have I been blind
Have I been lost
Have I been wrong
Have I been wise
Have I been strong
Have I been hypnotized, mesmerized by what my eyes have found
In that great street carnival

Have I been blind
Have I been lost
Have I been wrong
Have I been wise
Have I been strong
Have I been hypnotized, mesmerized by what my eyes have found
In that great street carnival

In that carnival

Writer/s: PETER ANDERS SVENSSON, MAGNUS SVENINGSSON, NINA PERSSON 
Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group, Downtown Music Publishing
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Courtesy of Songfacts

Van Morrison

The Song

The song is about an experience Morrison had when he was 12 years old. After a day of fishing outside a village named Ballystockart in his native Ireland, Morrison and his friends stopped in one of the village’s houses, where they saw an old man sitting inside. In Steven Turner’s Van Morrison: Too Late to Stop Now, Morrison describes him as “dark weather-beaten.”

Morrison and his friends asked the man for water, and he gave them some he’d gotten from a nearby stream. As Morrison drank the stream water he slipped into mystical experience. “Time stood still,” he says in Too Late to Stop Now. “For five minutes everything was really quiet and I was in this other dimension. “That’s what the song is about.”
“And It Stoned Me” is the first track on Van Morrison’s third album, Moondance. He recorded the song at Warner Publishing Studio in New York City in the summer of 1969.
In the chorus, Morrison sings, “stoned me just like Jelly Roll,” most likely referring to jazz legend Jelly Roll Morton. Morrison listened to Morton with his father while growing up.

“Jelly roll” was also once common African American slang for a women’s genitalia, which is what Morton’s name covertly referenced.
On the back cover of the original vinyl release of Moondance, the song is incorrectly presented as “Stoned Me” rather than “And It Stoned Me.”
Morrison made at least one other song that mentions Ballystockart with “A Sense Of Wonder,” though in that case he refers to the road rather than the townland.

The Lyrics

Half a mile from the county fair
And the rain came pourin' down
Me and Billy standin' there
With a silver half a crown

Hands are full of a fishin' rod
And the tackle on our backs
We just stood there gettin' wet
With our backs against the fence

Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Hope it don't rain all day

And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me
And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like goin' home
And it stoned me

Then the rain let up and the sun came up
And we were gettin' dry
Almost let a pick-up truck nearly pass us by
So we jumped right in and the driver grinned

And he dropped us up the road
Yeah, we looked at the swim and we jumped right in
Not to mention fishing poles

Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Let it run all over me

And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me
And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like goin' home
And it stoned me

On the way back home we sang a song
But our throats were getting dry
Then we saw the man from across the road
With the sunshine in his eyes

Well he lived all alone in his own little home
With a great big gallon jar
There were bottles too, one for me and you
And he said Hey! There you are

Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Get it myself from the mountain stream

And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me
And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like goin' home
And it stoned me

And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me
And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like goin' home
And it stoned me

Writer/s: VAN MORRISON 
Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Courtesy of Songfacts

  12 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – Carnival

  1. aisasami
    September 12, 2021 at 9:19 am

    I love the Natalie Merchant song! It is soothing! It has been a long time since I heard it.

  2. September 5, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    Sweet I almost went with Natalie Merchant too. As for your second choice, all of the Moondance album is gold!

    • Christine Bolton
      September 6, 2021 at 8:46 am

      Oh yes, Moondance is one of my favorite Van the Man songs ☺️💕

  3. September 5, 2021 at 10:41 am

    Love, love, love Natalie Merchant! and Van Morrison! Two distinct voices that were just so fantastic

    • Christine Bolton
      September 5, 2021 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks Christine. Yes you’re right about the distinct voices. They are very recognizable. Thanks for stopping by ☺️💕

  4. September 5, 2021 at 9:53 am

    Great choice with Natalie Merchant Christine, I love that song. I have been stoned a lot but I was never turned into a jelly roll and I would love to talk to Van about that one day.

    • Christine Bolton
      September 5, 2021 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks Jim. You know I had heard the term Jelly Roll in some old blues songs so I just googled it’s meaning. Here’s what I found 😳
      https://www.americanbluesscene.com/language-blues-jelly-roll/

      • September 5, 2021 at 2:44 pm

        Yes I am aware of Jelly Roll Morton, but being stoned like a jelly roll must be some really good stuff to get you there,

      • Christine Bolton
        September 5, 2021 at 2:47 pm

        The funny thing in the article I sent was that in Blues, jelly roll is slang for a female’s private parts 😳

  5. September 5, 2021 at 1:40 am

    Two great singers, and 2 superb songs Christine … I love Natalie’s voice .. Motherland is probably my fav’ ..
    https://youtu.be/A2JbLUVt0Z0

    And wow Van Morrison… where do I start … his older songs are classics .. especially from album Veedon Fleece, and Cul De Sac
    https://youtu.be/8XQnZEkrn7s

    • Christine Bolton
      September 5, 2021 at 8:44 am

      Yes Ivor! Van Morrison has made so many albums! It’s been hard to keep up with him ☺️ Thanks for sharing these two great songs.

      • September 5, 2021 at 9:19 am

        My pleasure Christine

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