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Possession by Sarah McLachlan

Album: Fumbling Towards EcstasyReleased: 1993Charted:
  • McLachlan wrote this from the point of view of an obsessed fan who wrote letters to her over a period of a few years. Following the album's release, the fan, Uwe Vandrei, sued McLachlan for songwriting credit, claiming she used parts of his letters in the lyrics. Vandrei asked for $250,000 and a televised meeting with McLachlan where they would discuss the song. He committed suicide on September 28, 1994 before the case went to trial.

    As reported in the Ottawa X Press, Vandrei was a computer engineer from Vanier, Ontario who kept to himself - so much so that he was only reported missing after neighbors noticed his mail piling up. He was clearly obsessed with McLachlan, keeping journals dedicated to the singer and telling anyone who would listen about his overwhelming admiration for her. For about two years, he sent letters to McLachlan, but never contacted her in person or sent any other items. The letters, however, were pretty intense. When he launched his lawsuit against McLachlan, he sent copies of his letters to the radio station CKCU, providing a look into his troubles. Here are some excerpts from his letters:

    Oh Sarah,
    Will I ever hold you on that shore?
    Or only live it in a dream?
    Will I ever tell you of my fears?
    Will you ever collect my tear?

    Let me repeat the lessons that you may not have learned well. Time and distance are IRRELEVANT! I am absorbed by, bound to you and I can wait a year, a decade, a lifetime. I will still be there, cherishing, contemplating, waiting.
  • Many have misunderstood this to be about a romantic relationship. McLachlan commented on a Reddit AMA: "You wouldn't believe how many people use that song for their wedding. And I just smile quietly to myself. Like 'oh, that's nice.'"
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Comments: 11

Curiously "Possession" is in the same mode (B minor Dorian) and involves the same chord sequence and even some of the same vocal techniques as "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak. I wonder if there is some connection? An allusion perhaps?Jeff - Sharon, Pa
Featured in an episode of 'Due South'. Say what you want about her personality I think Sarah is a good singer. Of course I may very well be biased. Lol.Christian Cage - Kitchner, On
This song appeared in a Due South Episode of Season 1 called Victoria's SecretJennie - Ansonia, Ct
Also, Sarah did not write the majority of words to this song. The words are from the young man who killed himself. She had a few beginning lines and maybe some chords, but the bulk is his writing. That is why he was to receive a payout from her label for $250,000, when he was found dead, an apparent suicide. Pretty sad that she still claims to have written it. In fact, she says it is about a fan who might want to kill their object of obession, when the young man never threatened anyone, all he wanted was to be acknowledged and paid for creating a song with his poetry in it.Dag - Marquette, Mi
Actually VH1 Storytellers interview is somewhat, ahem, telling, about Sarah. Most folks think she is some kind of angel. Interestingly enough, on her album, "Surfacing" is a song few if any people realize is another rip-off from her stalker's poetry. "Do What I Have Do" uses virtually the same words from a poem that Uwe Vandrei wrote. The poem is in the book "Building a Mystery".Dag - Marquette, Mi
i love the smile empty soul version. it's as equally intense (if not more)Erik - Nonya, Pa
the solo piano version is FAR superior IMO (at the end of "fumbling for ecstasy")Jon - Fullerton, Ca
I saw the same VH1 Storytellers and her cold and uncaring attitude in describing this song's history was to me a bit disturbing, especially since his family was so pained by it all.It still is by far her best and my favorite song.(although it does gives me chills to hear it) and to know that a life was lost and a $profit made from that loss.Elle - Santa Barbara, Ca
I remember first hearing this song back in 1994. But the song didn't really take off until it was re-recorded and released in 1997 where Hot AC stations really jumped on it.Mike - Boston, Ma
Its interesting to know what "inspiration" there was for this song.This is one of my favourites, I think that the way in which it was written makes it applicable to various situations that all people find themselves in (sane or crazy) from time to time....

-Bron-South Africa
Bronwyn - Johannesburg, South Africa
I heard a portion of Sarah's VH1 Storytellers in which she divulges into the origin of this song. She described the fan's intensity which she was shocked and also allured by. Not allured by the man himself, but by the way in which a stranger could say such things to someone he in turn did not know either. This song she described as a sort of attempt to understand the phenomenon of this person's emotions twoards an unknowing subject.Dennis - Chicagoland Burrows, Il
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