Possession (Sarah McLachlan song)
Standard artwork (Canadian edition pictured)
|Single by Sarah McLachlan|
|from the album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy|
|Released||September 10, 1993|
|Sarah McLachlan singles chronology|
“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 from computer programmer Uwe Vandrei, who sued McLachlan for using his words without crediting him. However, Vandrei committed suicide before the case could ever be taken to court.
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 of hers, both of whom had concocted a fantasy in which they were already in a relationship with McLachlan. 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 the autumn of 1994.
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." She also stated that, since the release of "Possession," she had stopped getting stalker-type fan letters, for which she was grateful.
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..." This video was directed by McLachlan herself, and features her friends and band members.
United States version
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.
- Nettwerk / W2-6319 (Canada)
- "Possession" (Version I)
- "Possession" (Version II)
- "Fear" (Jane's Mix)
- Arista / 07822-12662-2 (US)
- "Fear" (Jane's Mix)
- "Mary" (Early Version)
- "Black" (Live at Harbourfront, Toronto), taken from Live EP
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.
- The Canadian alternative rock band Evans Blue covered “Possession” on their first album The Melody and the Energetic Nature of Volume.
- Smile Empty Soul also included a cover of “Possession” on their album B-Sides.
- Chicago electronic musician Dreamlogicc does an ambient drum & bass version of this song during live performances
- The German gothic novel rock band ASP covered “Possession” on their EP Werben.
There is also a trance version of “Possession,” performed by Transfer.
- Mundy, Chris. "Interview: Sarah McLachlan". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- DeMain, Bill. "Sarah McLachlan's Walden Pond". Addicted to Songwriting.
- Hrynyshyn, James (18 January 1995). "Object of Obsession". Ottawa X Press. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- 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.
- As quoted in Scene (April 1994).