I first learned about Sarah McLachlan around 1991 or 1992, and I’m betting it was during my time at the University of Maine at Farmington, DJing at the mighty WUMF (replete with 13 watts of alternative power). Sarah had released what turned out to be her second album, SOLACE, featuring such great songs like “Into The Fire,” “Drawn To The Rhythm” and “The Path Of Thorns (Terms).”
Fast forward 2 years later, and my first year in Portland, Maine. It was 1994, when rents were more than reasonable, I was meeting new friends – lifelong friends – and Portland wasn’t anywhere close to imploding, which is what is going to happen if they keep pretending they are a bigger city than they really are and if they keep building apartments and condos upon apartments and condos, where apartments and condos shouldn’t be. But that’s another argument for another time.
1994 was the year I fell in love with Sarah McLachlan and her music. FUMBLING TOWARDS ECSTASY had been released in late 1993, and much like myself, it was a late bloomer. By the time Sarah made it to Portland’s recently reopened State Theater (I had somehow managed to score a couple of great seats near the stage; a time when most ticket prices were also more than reasonable), FUMBLING was finding its feet, and that show is still one of THE best concerts I’ve ever seen.
Between that concert in 1994 and when I started STUCK IN THE 80s on WMPG-FM and WMPG.org in 1996, I managed to learn that Sarah actually released her first album, TOUCH, in late 1988. The Nova Scotia native was 20 years old. Prior to the album’s release, a relatively new Canadian record label, Nettwerk, approached Sarah about a record contract. She was only 17.
In between Nettwerk’s interest in Sarah McLachlan and the release of TOUCH, I also learned the (then) 19-year-old appeared on an album by a Nettwerk band, Manufacture (out of Boston). Their 1987 debut album was TERRORVISION, and the song was “As The End Draws Near,” co-written by Sarah McLachlan.
An extended remix of “As The End Draws Near” appeared on Sarah’s 1996 compilation, RARITIES, B-SIDES AND OTHER STUFF. It was this cool, New Wave-ish dance song that may have been a precursor to other songs she collaborated on, like Delirium’s “Silence,” which Sarah also co-wrote and which was originally released in 1997, but got so much airplay over a long period of time, it stuck around for 3 years and became a global hit. A 2005 remix actually hit No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.
“As The End Draws Near” didn’t really make any chart waves anywhere, but with Sarah’s popularity in the 90s, especially in her Canadian homeland, it helped RARITIES reach No. 10 on the Canadian album chart and it went triple-platinum there.
In 2014, Sarah released her eighth studio album, SHINE ON, and even came back to Maine for the first time in awhile, though I wasn’t able to go. I’ve loved Sarah and her music for a long time. She’s an incredibly gifted musician, singer and songwriter, and as much as I’d love to see her do an all-piano album and tour, I think it’s cool when she branches out and contributes on songs a bit outside of the “pop music” realm, like “Silence” and “As The End Draws Near.” Maybe a future album, in honor of her 30 years in music, might be fumbling towards piano and dance – together. I’d like that…