Today I thought I would write to you about songs performed by a favorite musician/singer of mine. Her name is Enya Brennan (Eithne Ni Bhraonain in Irish Gaelic); she writes and performs New Age music. She sings all her songs and performs the music, too.
One of the interesting things about her songs is that not all of them are in English. Most of them are, but some are entirely written and performed in Latin or Irish Gaelic. Several others mix Latin or Gaelic with English; at least one may have a few French lyrics in it. As far as I know, Enya has only performed one song in Spanish, “La Sonadora,” but it is not listed on her website.
Oh, yes, she has a website. If you go to www.enya.com and click on the section titled “Videos” at the top, you can see some of the videos she has filmed to go with her songs. Or you could click on the links here in my list of favorites:
“Only If” http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=j
“Book of Days” http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=c
“Anywhere Is” http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=b
“Storms in Africa” http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=n
“Caribbean Blue” http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=d
“Wild Child” http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=p
“Orinoco Flow” http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=m
“On My Way Home” http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=l
“Trains and Winter Rains” http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=tawr
“Only Time” http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=k
My absolute favorite music video is “May It Be” (http://www.enya.com/videos.php?vid=i). It was written and performed specifically for the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Enya wrote and performed a second song for that particular movie as well; it was called Aniron and was an expression of Arwen Evenstar and Aragorn’s love for each other. Aniron is written and performed in the fictional Elven language Sindarin, but the song was never released with the film. “May It Be,” however, plays almost as soon as the credits roll at the end of The Fellowship. It is primarily sung in English but has a few lines in the fictional High-Elven – or Elven ‘Latin’ – tongue, Quenya.
The video for this song includes footage from The Fellowship, which is the main reason that I enjoy it so much. I am a BIG fan of The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s other work, The Hobbit. If you have looked at my quote pages, you have probably figured that out.
Why do I enjoy the other songs? Well, to start in completely the wrong order from my list above, I heard “Storms in Africa” and “Orinoco Flow” long before I even knew that Enya had her own website. So these two songs are part of my youth. The two are contained in the same album, Watermark, the recording that seems to have launched Enya to international stardom in the 1990s. This is the album where I first heard them.
The refrain for “Storms in Africa” is “How far to go…./I cannot say…/How many more…/Will journey this way?” The song is wistful; if you listen to Enya’s songs when you are exhausted, they will put you out like a light. “Storms in Africa” features Enya’s extensive vocal range in the middle of the song; a haunting melody that seems to beckon the listener into another, twilit world.
I must confess that the title also makes me think of the X-Man Storm, a favorite character of mine for many years. So this is another reason I enjoy “Storms in Africa.”
In contrast to “Storms,” “Orinoco Flow” is far more bouncy and lively. It reminds me, now that I think of it, of a sailor’s shanty. The refrain “Sail away, sail away, sail away…” adds to this new idea. “Orinoco Flow” is much softer – of course – than an actual sea shanty would be, but the tune carries the same rhythm of a ship tossed on the vivacious waves of the open ocean. This may be why the video occasionally shows a wooden sailing ship under sail behind Enya during the video’s run.
Personally, this is one of the few videos of Enya’s songs that I dislike. I do not like the sharp, choppy switches between pictures in the film. The song, however, is well worth hearing and I listen to it when I can.
“Only If” and “Caribbean Blue” are favorites of mine because of the childhood settings in the videos. In the video for “Only If,” Enya appears to help a frustrated inventor who cannot get his paper airplane to fly, a man trying to fly via a large handful of pink balloons, and a girl who cannot get her kite in the air.
This video portrays Enya as a muse, I think: the inspiration these three people need to keep working on their dreams until they achieve them. As the refrain goes, “If you really want to you can hear me say/ only if you want to will you find a way./ If you really want to you can seize the day,/ only if you want to will you fly away…”
Only If – see? They can Only achieve their desires If they work at it!
Similarly, “Caribbean Blue” shows Enya depicting what I believe to be a fairy. This is not the kind of fairy most people are familiar with – the one the size of Tinkerbell that flies in to collect a child’s newly lost tooth and, with the wave of a magic wand, change said tooth into a quarter. Rather, I think she plays here one of the Sidhe [shee], Irish fairies descended from the Irish Celtic deities, the Tuatha Dé Danann. These were human sized “fairies” of Irish folklore and myth, and they are believed by some scholars to have been the inspiration for Tolkien’s Middle-earth Elves.
In this video, Enya sings her song while guiding a young boy through a book. First they walk through the ‘jungles of adventure,’ then the boy enters dreamland (represented by a huge chocolate factory!). Finally, Enya meets the boy on a moonlit beach and gives him the book she has led him through.
The little boy’s wonderstruck expression as he travels through the video perfectly sums up Caribbean Blue’s twilight setting. Is it real or is it a dream? That is for the little boy to decide for himself.
“Anywhere Is,” “Wild Child,” “On My Way Home,” and “Trains and Winter Rains” are more favorites of mine because they all present soft fantasies and dreamscapes that blur the possible with the impossible. Fact or fiction, myth or legend, this life or the next – all these things are muddled in both the song videos and the song lyrics. For instance, “Anywhere Is” speaks of “a moment” between two people that has been lost in time; no matter how Enya’s ‘character’ searches, this moment is lost to her. She gets there only to miss the one she loves: “You go there you’re gone forever/ I go there I’ll lose my way/ We stay here we’re not together/ Anywhere is…”
The video for “Wild Child” is set in a cityscape that constantly shifts to natural settings, leaving the viewer to wonder whether Enya’s ‘character’ is in a jungle or a city. Any country boy could tell you there is little enough difference between both cities and the wilder parts of the world. All teem with life and throb with their own hurried heartbeat, represented in the video by the white cat that prances past Enya as she sings.
“On My Way Home” shows Enya riding a train, heading for – where? Home, she calls it in the lyrics. But which home? “On my way home, I can remember, only good days/ And on my way home, I can remember every new day…” Is it the home in this world, the home in the next, or a home known only to the ‘character’ who sings…? I don’t know. Maybe even Enya’s ‘character’ does not know.
“Trains and Winter Rains” is a part of Enya’s Christmas album And Winter Came. “Trains,” according to Enya, is a song about “a dark winter journey…where it’s time to leave home.” (You can find her description of it in the And Winter Came EPK video; second from the bottom of the list of Enya’s videos. This video is an interview.) One of the things that struck me about “Trains” more than the lyrics, which do seem to speak of the last journey everyone must take, is the rhythm of the music. It is a soft piece of music reminiscent of the rhythm of the click-clack of a train’s wheels rushing down the tracks. For some reason it always brings to my mind scenes from the animated movie The Polar Express. That may be because Polar Express was also about journeys and their endings/beginnings.
Now for my last two favorite songs. “Only Time” is a music video that is spellbinding. I think that perhaps in this film Enya ‘represents’ Time as she sings. The video follows spring showers to summer beaches, and then goes on to show autumn leaves falling. Throughout the film Enya’s dresses bear some likeness to the seasons she passes through, culminating in a white dress during the final transition from autumn to winter. “Who can say/ if your love grows/ as your heart chose/ – only time/ and who can say/ where the road goes/ where the day flows/ – only time.” Only Time – too true; only time will tell.
My final favorite song is “Book of Days.” This song is one that I listen to more than I watch. The lyrics are, to me, the most inspiring part of the song: “No day, no night, no moment/ will hold me back from trying/ I’ll fly, I’ll fall, I’ll falter,/ I’ll find my day – maybe far and away/ far and away…”
This song makes me think about the journey ahead, the journey into forever, eternity. “I’ll fly, I’ll fall, I’ll falter.” Yes, all of that. That is the journey of life. And at the end “my day – maybe – far and away…”
Book of Days….. Every life is a book, the years lived and the years ahead. Yes…Book of Days.
Oooh, am I stiff! I’ve been typing to long. And I have probably made little sense while writing this note to boot. Well, I hope you enjoy the music, Giselle. I know I do!