Saturday, June 5, 2010

3 - Favourite Musician ... Part Two

I dropped in to Marbecks today with the intention of buying some Chely Wright.  The country music section is small and mostly filled with the Big Names, and none of her albums were there.  As I was browsing I recognised the voice in the song being played by the store.  Holy Shit, I thought, that's The National!

The National are a band I would never have heard of had I not embarked on The Chuck Bartowski Project in which I attempted to collect every song from every episode of every series.  It was a fun project, and The National was the best thing to come out of it.  Two of their songs have featured on Chuck, Fake Empire and Slow Show, both from the album Boxer.  I acquired Boxer soon after and it has been an album I cannot get enough of.  Their songs are sad and draw me in to them.  When listening to The National I hear nothing else.  Bryan Devendorf's drumming is magnificent, he sets a primal beat to which the rest of the music is tied but not enslaved.  Matt Berninger's lyrics and husky baritone bring the melancholy depth and soul-rending heartache to the music, but the drums are the heartbeat and create a power to the music which is undeniable and is gracefully supported by the rest of the music.

When I went up to the counter and asked the girl (already knowing the answer) "Is this The National?" I was rewarded with a pleased and impressed smile from her as she discovered there was another who knew good music (har har har).  She explained that she was playing their new album, and that she's already listened to it twice today.  Also, she felt it was a little more upbeat than their previous albums.  I exclaimed and made sure not to let on that I'd only been exposed to one of their albums.  As she handed over the cellophane wrapped cardboard CD case of High Violet she asked what I thought of The Editors.  I hadn't heard of The Editors and told her so.  She offered to put them on the listening station for me.  As much as I wanted to hear them I turned her down - I had to get to Newmarket.  But she put their name on a recommendation card for me and I left the store with High Violet and Norah Jones' The Fall.  Still no Chely Wright.

Anyway, I'm listening to The National's new album High Violet as I right this post about who I will finally label as My Favourite Musician.

I've noticed that the kind of music we love is heavily influenced by the kind of music we grow up with.  That's not an exclusive list by the way - we all branch out.  But I grew up with Suzanne Prentice, Patsy Riggor, Dean Martin, Cliff Richard & The Shadows, The Seekers, Foster and Allen, Simon & Garfunkel, Elaine Paige, Burl Ives, Jim Reeves, Credence Clearwater Revival, Roger Miller, Buddy Holly, The Beatles et al.  I still enjoy a great deal of their music and the genres they emerged from.  I prefer Radio Hauraki to The Rock because the rock music they play tends towards those older styles.  Over both those stations I prefer Coast 105.4 because I like their music better still.  (and the DJ doesn't love himself)
During recruit course and primary trade training, my best friend was one Emma Boughtwood.  Emma was also a big music fan, and there was a lot of music we both loved to listen to.  But there was no denying her mother's love of rock and metal was what steered her towards the same.

During my life, my love affair with the above names and the musicians I have come across since has waxed and waned. For example I've rediscovered Roger Miller very recently as I sang and played a great deal of his songs for my new niece.  But throughout my life as other genres and other musicians have come and gone from the prominent place in my soul, there is one 'musician' who has remained in place.  Unlike movies, music is easy to listen to over and over again.  Sometimes we suffer overkill, and sometimes we just grow bored or grow away from artists as we mature and become more complex creatures ourselves.  Sometimes phases in our lives fade away and the music with them.  There is one who has remained a steady influence in my life - inspiring day dreams and stories, making me want to dance, want to cry, want to be lonely, want to be a heroine, want to embrace the strength and bravery and loyalty which is being presented.  Each album is unique and brings with it an individual atmosphere and yet each album is undeniably by the same genius.  Some pieces I like more than others, but the only song of Enya's I've heard which has not moved me is May It Be.  Of all her albums, I believe the only ones I do not own are A Box of Dreams and her latest The Very Best Of Enya.

Did you know Enya is actually made up of three people?  Nicky Ryan, Roma Ryan and Eithne Ní Bhraonáin (sometimes Anglicised to Enya Brennen).  Eithne composes the music, and plays all the instruments herself.  She and Nicky arrange the songs and then they are passed to Roma.  Roma Ryan writes the lyrics, and she was so inspired by JRR Tolkien's invention of a language she created Loxian for the lyrics in Amarantine.

When Roma is done writing lyrics (and the names of the instrumentals are often taken from failed lyrics for those pieces) Eithne returns to the studio and sings them.

I can't really describe the way I feel about the music of Enya.  Only that she is always there when I need her, and I always need her to some degree.

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