I am sitting here right now listening to “Shepherd Moons,” one of Enya’s albums from the early 1990s, and one that helped establish her as the Celestial Goddess of New Age music. I have listened to this album probably thousands of times. It seems that most areas of my life are colored somewhere by Enya’s presence (and most especially by “Shepherd Moons” and the album before it, “Watermark,” but also “The Memory of Trees,” which came after). So for instance, memories of going on family trips when I was between 12 and 15 years old are suffused with the sound of playing Enya through the car speakers. Later, when I was in high school and my mom had moved back to San Francisco to join me and my brother there, the sounds of Enya at her place are in my memory. Then, when I was lost in New York as an unhappy college student there, I listened to “Shepherd Moons” and “Watermark” constantly to sooth my heavy heart (fortunately, the albums were on a cassette tape, one on each side, so I could just keep turning it over and over.. this was before Napster and the new wave of internet music made cassette tapes seem like an anachronistic embarrassment). Then, a few years ago, I was inspired one night by a singer at a high school theater where I was playing, and suddenly I found myself listening to Enya through the modern miracle of instant gratification called the Internet. I’ve been listening to it ever since.
Which is where it starts getting a little funny. Right now I am playing “Shepherd Moons” through Apple Music, and it’s always interesting to see the titles come up… because I hardly know any of them! Play me the song, and I have it so deep on a cellular level it might as well have been with me in the womb. Yet ask me to name the titles, and I’m clueless.
It’s kind of like common household products that, if someone asked you, you couldn’t name any of the ingredients (or maybe you couldn’t even name the brand in some cases?). Enya is such a part of my family’s past that it almost doesn’t even need to be named. In fact, we can’t!
It’s a lot like movie music. Most people are moved by the movie scores as they watch movies. Yet the power of the music is almost unconscious. And in most cases, people don’t know who the composers are, let alone what the names of the music is. Sure, they know who the likes of John Williams are, but ask them to name the different pieces of the “Star Wars: A New Hope” score, and they are probably lost. Yet play the “Main Title” theme (and yes, that is what it is called, perhaps the most riveting opening music ever put into motion pictures), and the world lights up with excitement.
So it is for me with Enya’s early albums. I find this especially funny because I too have released music which people have said they enjoy listening to over and over… just as I listened to Enya. Could they be having the same reaction, not knowing the names of my pieces? Probably! If it could happen to me, it could happen to others hearing my music.
All of which really doesn’t matter that much, because, at the end of the day, I figure if people are moved by your music, then that is what counts. That’s why I say, Ms. Enya, Celestial Goddess of New Age Music, carry on working Thy magic… though your music may be nameless in our minds, it is lodged deep within our hearts where only the greatest beauties and grandest satisfactions lie.