Enya, the Post-New Age Punk

It’s taken me nine years, but I’m ready to go public. Enya is a total BAMF.

We first met in a record shop in Salem, Massachusetts. I was a thirteen-year-old pagan with a penchant for crystals and a feline familiar who chose not to respond to the name Equinox; she was an accomplished singer filed under New Age who looked good in spring green. A Day Without Rain landed a coveted spot on my frequently played list, right next to Celine Dion and the Brandenburg Concertos.

Later that year, I conducted a science experiment that involved measuring plant growth as contingent on musical exposure. My control plant spent its days in blissful silence, while Variable 1 withered under the strains of “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Variable 2 grew the most and turned a verdant, healthy color besides. Its serenade? “Only Time.”

Of course, it was only a matter of time before I internalized my peers’ perception of certain genres. Enya, international chart-topper and plant favorite, was relegated to the bottom of my CD tower, where she chilled with Celine. Besides, I rationalized, Enya wasn’t even that good. Her songs were incredibly repetitive, and the overuse of synth was so nineties.  The lyrics were overly simple and sentimental, certainly not capable of sustaining my late teenage diet of hardcore cynicism.

Years later, I finished college and decided that I wanted to be an individual. Everyone was doing it. I admitted that I had once watched All My Children completely unironically, I started writing fan fiction, and I thought about what it means to be half-Jewish. This was the environment into which Enya returned, fully grown in my consciousness, and told me her story.

Born in Northwestern Ireland, Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin got her start in her family’s band, Clannad. She broke off to run solo in the mid 1980s, writing and recording the soundtrack for the BBC series The Celts. Her breakaway hit, “Orinoco Flow,” made the top of the U.K. charts; since then she’s released six albums, not including one Greatest Hits and one Best Of. She’s perhaps best known in the geek community for writing the song “May it Be,” which was featured in The Fellowship of the Ring.

I haven’t even gotten to the awesome stuff. She plays ALL the instruments on her recordings–unless noted otherwise–and totally rocks the synthesizer. Raised Catholic, she still feels connected to the Church, but has subverted the doctrine to make it her own. She’s written songs in J.R.R. Tolkein’s Elvish languages, and she’s layered her voice as many as eighty times in a single song.

Perhaps most iconoclastically, she’s rejected the categorization of her music as New Age, saying instead that it belongs to the genre of Enya.

Did I mention she’s a cat person?

So, no, I’m not ashamed to love Enya. She’s clearly not ashamed to be Enya, DIY musical pioneer.

I’m glad we’re back together.

 

 

 

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Gobiasomecoffee

Kat is a proud half-Jewish bisexual feminist kitten-loving lady who sleeps with her pants tucked into her socks. She spends far too much time writing fanfiction, and pretends to blog regularly at kaylefay.blogspot.com.

8 thoughts on “Enya, the Post-New Age Punk”

  1. Okay, so while in grad school, i got stress/tension migraines. horrible ones. and i’m allergic to pretty much all pain killers. Only music I could stand to listen to when i had to block out the super-painful noise of the world?

    Enya.

    So basically, I love Enya the way Elisabeth Moss loves Excedrin, and for the exact same reason.

  2. I first fell in like with Enya my junior year in college. The music was so ethereal and fluid. It calmed me in ways other music never could. Since then she’s always been my serenity go-to, along with Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, and the theme to Twin Peaks (Badalamenti’s Falling), and some Lorena McKennitt favorites.

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