Thursday, August 21, 2014

What I've Learned From Loreena McKennitt's Music

It's safe to say I'm a pretty big fan of Loreena McKennitt, both her music and herself. It's a pity that I didn't discover how true this was until after I saw her in concert several years ago. There is no one quite like her, and no music quite like hers. She is a true bohemian. She weaves stories of her exotic travels into her music. There's no musical genre to describe how she combines Celtic beats and hypnotic Middle Eastern rhythms with folklore and history. Her albums can be found under headings of New Age world, but they aren't really adequate descriptions. She uses many instruments in her songs that most Americans have probably never heard of, instruments that hail from the Middle East, Africa, and other places.

Before this turns into a fangirl rant, I'll get to my point: I've learned a lot, thanks to her.

"Night Ride Across the Caucasus" led me to research the Caucasus Mountains. I'll bet you don't know what they are and probably haven't even heard of them.

Her live album "Nights From the Alhambra" had me wondering what the heck the Alhambra was.  That's how I came to the dream of a visit to Spain, a country I had never given much thought to.

"Caravanserai" taught me about the way stations along the old Silk Road, now in various states of ruin, and crumbling in the hot desert sun.

"Mummers Dance", the one song of hers that has ever had any radio success in the United States, led to research about members. A mummer is probably not what you're thinking it is.

"Skellig" came to life when my favorite travel blogger visited the very location that must have inspired the song, a rocky island off the coast of Ireland, which houses a very old, weather-beaten monastery.

"Kecharitomene" had me googling the word. I still have no idea what it is, or what it means, but I love the song, and I hope someday I will figure it out. (If you know, I'd love to hear about it.)

"Beneath a Phrygian Sky" gives me visions of standing on the deck of a sailboat, in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Greece, staring up at the night sky.

I love it all. I'm a little bit of a bohemian, I love culture and music, and travel, and doing things that other people think are weird or crazy. (I have yet to meet someone else who thinks Sarajevo would be an interesting travel destination.) Loreena 
McKennitt and her music are a part of that. 

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