Listen to a Pre-Fame 10,000 Maniacs Go Country on "Wildwood Flower"

Recorded on Aug. 7, 1987, at the Ritz in New York City

Music Features 10,000 Maniacs
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Listen to a Pre-Fame 10,000 Maniacs Go Country on "Wildwood Flower"

Did you know that Paste owns the world’s largest collection of live music recordings? It’s true! And what’s even crazier, it’s all free—hundreds of thousands of exclusive songs, concerts and videos that you can listen to and watch right here at, from Muddy Waters to The Rolling Stones to R.E.M. to LCD Soundsystem. Every day, we’ll dig through the archive to find the coolest recording we have from that date in history. Search and enjoy!

Who didn’t love 10,000 Maniacs in their prime? With their breakthrough album In My Tribe having just turned 30, Paste is taking you back to the band’s King Biscuit Flower Hour performance on Aug. 7, 1987, at the Ritz in New York. Avoiding what could’ve been a recovery record after the departure of guitarist and primary co-writer John Lombardo, the group’s deceptively upbeat, poetic jangle-pop became a sleeper hit, eventually going platinum and solidifying Natalie Merchant as the reigning girl-crush of the R.E.M. crowd.

Lots of great songs came off of In My Tribe, like “What’s the Matter Here” and “Like the Weather.” But the greatest gems in the Paste Vault are often the amazing B-sides, rarities, and covers that have been largely lost to history. With that in mind, let’s listen to Merchant and Co. sprint through an indie rendition of The Carter Family classic “Wildwood Flower,” less than two weeks after In My Tribe’s release:

While “Wildwood Flower” had been a Carter Family calling card well before their appearance on The Johnny Cash Show in the early 1970s, the song itself dates back even further. Its root has been traced back as far as 1860, and while the original Appalachian poem has undergone the folk process several times over, its bittersweetness still resonates. Watch Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter and Carl Smith, perform the song in the Paste’s New York Studio in May:

And of course, here is the legend herself, Maybelle Carter—inventor of the Carter scratch, which basically became the guitar template for all of country music—performing the song in 1963.