Possession (Sarah McLachlan song)

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"Possession"
Canadian edition (Nettwerk)
Single by Sarah McLachlan
from the album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Released September 10, 1993
Format CD single
Genre Pop
Length 4:37
Label Nettwerk (Canada)
Arista (US)
Writer(s) Sarah McLachlan
Producer(s) Pierre Marchand
Sarah McLachlan singles chronology
"Drawn to the Rhythm"
(1992)
"Possession"
(1993)
"I Will Remember You"
(1995)
Music sample

"Possession" is a 1993 song written and performed by Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan, and was the first single from her album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. It was released in Canada on 10 September 1993 by Nettwerk Records. The song appears twice on the album, as the first track and as a hidden track at the end, which is a solo piano version.

"Possession" is written from the viewpoint of a man obsessed with a woman, and was inspired by two crazed fans that McLachlan had early in her career.[1]

The main recording of "Possession" also appeared on the 2008 compilation album Closer: The Best of Sarah McLachlan, and McLachlan has also released live, alternate and remixed versions of the song.

Inspiration[edit]

The song was inspired by McLachlan's reaction to two deranged fans of hers, both of whom had concocted a fantasy in which they were already in a relationship with McLachlan.[1] Of the two, the more famous is Uwe Vandrei, an Ottawa, Ontario native who sued McLachlan in 1994, alleging that his love letters to her had been the basis of "Possession". Vandrei had written and sent McLachlan love poems, although there is no direct connection between those poems and the lyrics of "Possession". Vandrei's lawsuit never came to trial as he committed suicide in autumn 1994.[2]

In an interview with Rolling Stone three years later, McLachlan said, "And this one person wasn't the only guy ... there were a lot of letters from other people saying the same kind of thing ... Writing the song 'Possession' was very therapeutic."[3] She also stated that, since the release of "Possession", she had stopped getting stalker-type fan letters, for which she was grateful.[3]

Music videos[edit]

Canadian version[edit]

The original version of the video features a remixed background track and depicts Sarah McLachlan wrapped in white cloth, as Eve, as Potiphar's wife, and other such biblical references, depicting vanity, deceit, corruption, intimacy and other taboos of conservative society. As McLachlan explained, "Oh it's so lofty, it's pompous now. I was trying to dispel that by showing a bunch of female archetypes using historical paintings, ‘Venus’, ‘Adam and Eve’, ‘Salome's Last Dance’. I wanted to show all women possessing all these different archetypes. I also had myself suspended in the air and wrapped in gauze, as if my personality and my sexuality were bound. Throughout the video I was being unraveled by unseen forces, and I came out in end strong and free and - Ta Da! - there I was my own self. Yes, it was pretty lofty [...] and the label told me..."[4] The video was directed by McLachlan herself, and features her friends and band members.

US version[edit]

The video for the US market released in 1994 features the original album version of the song being played by McLachlan and her band in a cathedral-style hall. It was directed by Julie Hermelin.

Tracklisting[edit]

Nettwerk / W2-6319 (Canada)
  1. "Possession" (Version I)
  2. "Possession" (Version II)
  3. "Fear" (Jane's Mix)
Arista / 07822-12662-2 (US)
  1. "Possession"
  2. "Fear" (Jane's Mix)
  3. "Mary" (Early Version)
  4. "Black" (Live at Harbourfront, Toronto), taken from Live EP

Other versions[edit]

In addition to the two different versions of "Possession" appearing on the Fumbling Towards Ecstasy album, a live recording of the song is available on McLachlan's 1999 live concert album Mirrorball. A fourth version, the Rabbit in the Moon remix, is available on two different McLachlan remix albums: Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff and Remixed.

McLachlan recorded another version of the song for the 2005 iTunes-only digital album iTunes Originals – Sarah McLachlan.

Cover versions[edit]

Canadian alternative rock band Evans Blue covered this song on their first album The Melody and the Energetic Nature of Volume. Smile Empty Soul also has a cover of the song on their album B-Sides. The German gothic novel rock band ASP covered this song on their EP Werben.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b DeMain, Bill. "Sarah McLachlan's Walden Pond". Addicted to Songwriting. 
  2. ^ Hrynyshyn, James (18 January 1995). "Object of Obsession". Ottawa X Press. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Silberger, Kathy (25 December 1997). "I think the success of Lilith got rid of some of that old-school, pig-dog mentality". Rolling Stones. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  4. ^ As quoted in Scene (April 1994).

External links[edit]