Ophelia

  • Ophelia is a tragic character from Shakespeare's Hamlet who loses her mind when she's rejected by the title prince, who also killed her father. By suicide or by accident, she ends up drowning in a brook.

    Merchant's song envisions Ophelia living varied lives throughout history as a Spanish nun, a German athlete, a sultry French star, a Depression-era American activist, a Vegas gambler's Italian mistress, and a Russian circus performer. In the end, they appear to be delusions from a mental patient (the real Ophelia).

    Ophelia's mind went wandering
    You'd wonder where she'd gone
    Through secret doors
    Down corridors
    She'd wander them alone
  • The album's cover image shows a dolled-up Merchant wearing a slinky black satin dress while lounging on a sofa. It's a shocking departure from her days as the lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs, when she embraced an earthy, makeup-free style. But fans needn't be worried. The image is a teaser for the song's accompanying short film, where Merchant brings the Ophelias to life. Aside from playing the women in song, she gives interviews from the perspective of each character (with dubbed-in accents). At the end, she portrays the mad Ophelia mimicking the exploits of the women as she's locked in an asylum.
  • Shakespeare's Ophelia struggled to fulfill contradictory roles as the dutiful daughter to Polonius and the loyal lover to Hamlet. In modern days, teens still struggle with conflicting messages about their identity, whether its through peer pressure, body shaming, or expectations for their future. With the Ophelia album, Merchant hoped to offer encouragement. She told Charlie Rose: "I want to express my empathy and my understanding that life is confusing; the influences that affect their lives can be contradictory and that there's a lot of cruelty in the world, but they have to, rather than respond in kind to that cruelty with more cruelty, respond with patience and perseverance, and work towards a more just and humane world."
  • Other songs named for the doomed ingenue include a "rootsy 1975 classic from The Band ," a 2009 ballad from Tori Amos, and a haunting 2016 number from The Lumineers.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Goodbye, Hello: Ten Farewell Tour Fake-OutsSong Writing

The 10 biggest "retirement tours" that didn't take.

Movie Stars In Music VideosSong Writing

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos.

Benny MardonesSongwriter Interviews

His song "Into The Night" is one of the most-played of all time. For Benny, it took him to hell and back.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Justin Hayward of The Moody BluesSongwriter Interviews

Justin wrote the classic "Nights In White Satin," but his fondest musical memories are from a different decade.

Curt Kirkwood of Meat PuppetsSongwriter Interviews

The (Meat)puppetmaster takes us through songs like "Lake Of Fire" and "Backwater," and talks about performing with Kurt Cobain on MTV Unplugged.