Possession (Sarah McLachlan song)

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Canadian variant of the standard artwork
Single by Sarah McLachlan
from the album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
  • "Fear"
  • "Mary"
Released10 September 1993
GenrePop, Alternative Rock
LabelNettwerk (Canada)
Arista (US)
Songwriter(s)Sarah McLachlan
Producer(s)Pierre Marchand
Sarah McLachlan singles chronology
"Wear Your Love Like Heaven"
"Hold On"

“Possession” is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan, and was the first single from her album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. It was written and composed by McLachlan herself and was produced by Pierre Marchand. 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 consistent fan letters to McLachlan some time before the writing of the song. The most famous ones are from a computer programmer from Ottawa, Ontario named Uwe Vandrei, who sued McLachlan for using his words without crediting him. However, Vandrei died by suicide before the case could ever be taken to court.[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.


The song was inspired by McLachlan's reaction to two deranged fans, both of whom had concocted a fantasy in which they were already in a relationship with her.[2] 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 died by suicide in the autumn of 1994.[3]

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."[4] She also stated that, since the release of "Possession," she had stopped getting stalker-type fan letters, for which she was grateful.[4]

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, 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 the end strong and free and – Ta Da! – there I was my own self. Yes, it was pretty lofty [...] and the label told me...[5]

This video was directed by McLachlan herself, and features her friends and band members.

United States 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.

Track listing[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]


  1. ^ Mundy, Chris (30 April 1998). "Interview: Sarah McLachlan". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 18 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  2. ^ DeMain, Bill. "Sarah McLachlan's Walden Pond". Addicted to Songwriting. Archived from the original on 2015-07-14. Retrieved 2015-03-24.
  3. ^ Hrynyshyn, James (18 January 1995). "Object of Obsession". Ottawa X Press. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  4. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  5. ^ As quoted in Scene (April 1994).
  6. ^ "Imgur Post, Jan 10 2017". ARIA Charts. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2297." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Sarah McLachlan Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Sarah McLachlan Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Sarah McLachlan Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Sarah McLachlan Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Sarah McLachlan Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  13. ^ "The Year in Music: 1994" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2018.

External links[edit]