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.