Songs that can change a life #2

I’m thinking that I just must have too much on the go of late (contrary to what some detractors I could name might have to say.  Self-employed does NOT mean UNemployed).

While perusing the drafts of posts that I have started and forgotten about lost my train of thought not yet completed I saw that title up there ^ ^^ and honestly couldn’t for the life of me remember just what that life-changing song (#2) might be.  Didn’t even remember starting the thing to be completely honest.  And certainly didn’t remember searching the YouTube and linking in this:

Methinks the Shuffle Daemon is now controlling me, as well as my iPod.  Haven’t heard that song in AGES.

So, hello Waterboys, how’ve you been?  C’mon in and grab a beer.  It’s been far too long since we spent some quality time together.

This song, their best-known and most commercially successful, was my first exposure to the Waterboys, but it definitely was not to be my last.  I was going through a folk-rock- type music phase at the time and their sound significantly resonated with that period in my life.

The Whole of the Moon is from the 1985 album This is the Sea and I distinctly remember rushing to Sam’s on Yonge Street to pick up the tape almost immediately after hearing the single on CFNY for the first time.  The album got tonnes of playtime on the ol’ Walkman, but The Whole of the Moon got more than the rest.  If I had instead bought the vinyl LP, the grooves would most certainly have been worn more deeply on that particular song.

Musically it is quite spectacular and theatrical- with its antiphonal trumpets, falsetto vocals and a sax solo near the end.  But, as always, it was the lyrics that really drew me in and wouldn’t let me go.  The referencing of legendary creatures and places- ‘every precious dream and vision underneath the stars’– made me want to become a person like the one in the song.

A person who sees not the smaller part of things, but the entirety, and who looks upon that whole with childlike wonder, even when in danger of climbing ‘too high too far too soon‘.  I still aspire to that goal.

The magic referenced in The Whole of the Moon was echoed on the Waterboys’ 1988 album, Fisherman’s Blues,  especially in the musical version of William Butler Yeats’ beautiful poem The Stolen Child.  The track is a combination of their usual dreamy music and Mike Scott’s vocals with the addition of the incredible recitation of the poem by the Irish sean-nós actor, singer, songwriter and poet Tomás Mac Eoin.

The traditionally Irish feel of the music behind the lyrics brings the poem to life in an incredible way.  Yeats is among my favourite poets.  His love and use of the myths of the Irish Twilight, as well as his recounting of the historical events that marked his time, are musical in their very language.

Hearing a native Irish speaker (and singer) recount the story of the human child, stolen from his familiar surroundings in order to dance with the faeries ‘far off by furthest Rosses’ because the ‘world’s more full of weeping than he can understand’ sparked something atavistic in me.

In part because of the cadence of the music in the Waterboys version, I have no trouble at all remembering every line of the beautiful poem.  Even single lines can still cause an incredible shiver to run the length of my spine.

I had read Yeats before hearing the Waterboys’ version, but I admit that I had never read Yeats.  The song- and this poem, followed by the rest of his collected works upon deeper examination- made me feel Yeats and the power of his poetry.  And that depth of feeling led to the discovery of a body of myths that had previously been somewhat outside of my wheelhouse.

I learned Irish so that I could read the traditional- and contemporary- words of the poets of that storied isle in the original language while hearing their music in my head.

The myths and songs of  the Celts speak to the world in so many iterations.  The Whole of the Moon was a catalyst that exposed me to the study and love of its cultural milieu and took me further down my road to discover and appreciate the mythologies of the world.  Life-changing indeed.  Thanks Lads.

9 comments on “Songs that can change a life #2

  1. Grumble Girl says:

    It’s such a wonderful thing, to continue to draw meaning and comfort from music and lyrics that just struck us, or glommed onto us, once upon a time… songs like these become part of us, and never let go. They make shapes inside us. It’s such an interesting thing. Enjoy the solace!!

  2. colemining says:

    “Make shapes inside us” I love that! Songs do exactly that- and those shapes fit our insides perfectly and help keep the whole together in times of trouble. xo GG!

  3. […] spoke about my love for William Butler Yeats here, how his mix of mythological themes and legendary traditions with elements of history can […]

  4. Here’s some Yeats for ya:

    In regard to your other post, I did a paper on Antigone in college as a Classics minor studying Greek.

    I enjoy your diction, the ease with words on your pallette.

  5. […] love Yeats.  I’ve mentioned that a couple of times before.  His words, like James Burke’s, remain timeless and uncannily prophetic- […]

  6. […] love Yeats. I’ve talked about that before (when speaking about a beloved band and in the context of my enduring love affair with a number of Irish poets.  No one writes like […]

  7. Gawd, Cole, this takes me back! My youngest sister introduced me to The Waterboys and I took to them immediately. Right enough, I was raised on Irish music. (some of it a bit questionable, I later realised). I have an image right now in my head of Alison, said youngest sis, coming in late to a party she insisted on organising for my youngest brother who was heading off to work in Germany. She was ‘slightly’ under the weather. 😉 Ali’s just shy of six feet. Doc Martens and a floral dress and starting to dance this long-legged stomp to ‘When Will We Be Married, Molly’. We were all doubled at her as she got right into it. All forgiven for her late appearance.
    Music, for all the reasons you state, the lyrics, voices, memories they can evoke has to be one of the greatest gifts we have – separates us quite uniquely from all other creatures. What would we do without it?x

    • colemining says:

      What an awesome memory! I wish I’d thought to use that particular trick when missing curfew…

      I love the Waterboys- like certain films, poetry, literature and other great music, they ‘speak’ Ireland to me. I’m finding, since falling in love with Scotland, that certain bands are doing the same for your neck o’ the woods.

      I can’t even imagine what we’d do without music. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately- one of the short story ideas I’ve been working on is very music-centred, and, of course, that novel I keep thinking about wouldn’t be the same without the music that influences the characters and the unfolding of the story.

      I had planned to write a post about a great live show I was at- a couple of weeks ago, now- but I’m still sort of absorbing it all. Musicians- and their songs- have very much shaped the person that I am. There’s untold gratitude and good fortune, both, in that reality of my life. xo

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