Song of the day (14th August) – Loreena MCKennitt – “The Lady Of Shalott”.

This song from Loreena MCKennit, as you can probably guess, tells the story of Elaine of Astolat, from the Arthurian legend. Well, moreover, it’s the musical adaptation of the whole poem “The Lady Of Shalott” by Alfred Tennyson. That’s how I’ve first heard this poem – sung by Loreena MCKennitt. – And thanks to this song, I’ve become interested in Arthurian legends, as part of my fascination with everything Celtic. Until then, I didn’t really know much about Arthurian legends. But now I find them very interesting. And this one is my favourite. So here is this long song. I really love the way she adapted this poem and made a lovely piece of music out of it.

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Song of the day (13th August) – Loreena MCKennitt – “Down By The Sally Gardens”.

Here is another song by Loreena MCKennitt that I love and want to share with you. Originally, it was a peoem written by William Butler Yeats – Irish 20th century poet and Nobel Prize winner (it was “Down By The Salley Gardens” in the original I believe). – Apparently, Yeats based some of it on a folk ballad “The Rambling Boys Of Pleasure”. It’s been recorded as a song by many artists though, and especially those making Celtic music. I think Loreena’s version is one of the best I know. b

Song of the day (12th August) – Loreena MCKennitt – “Annachie Gordon”.

Hi hi hi lovely people! ๐Ÿ™‚

It feels like I haven’t written anything in quite a while again, so let’s first catch up on some music, as I haven’t posted any music for a particularly long time.

I’d like to show you a few songs of one of my very first favourite Celtic music singers – Loreena MCKennitt. – Alongside Enya, Aine Minogue and a few others, she was keeping me sane during a time that was particularly difficult emotionally in my life, and she was one of the first artists associated with Celtic but also generally folk music that I’ve started to listen to a lot, and one of the first harpists whose music I’ve heard. I really like her dramatic soprano, my friend Jacek from Helsinki loved her and he used to say her voice is chil inducing, it indeed is very very expressive. I love the wide range of inspirations Loreena uses in her music, she’s not only into Celtic music but also oriental music, she has adapted various poems or pieces of literary work into pieces of music or has written her own music inspired by literature, legends, myths, historical/legendary figures etc. It’s like her each album has a bit of a theme that is going on throughout the album. I like how self-sufficient she is. Apart from being a singer, songwriter, composer and harpist, she has also her own record label – Quinlan Road – and also plays a few other instruments other than harp, she’s her own manager and seems to like running the show just on her own. And I like her harp play so very much. She’s one of the better Celtic harpists out there in my opinion.

Loreena MCKennitt is from Canada, she has Irish and Scottish roots (and her father’s name was JACK! that explains everything, doesn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and she currently lives in Ontario.

The song I want to show you in this post is a ballad called “Annachie Gordon”. If I remember well, this is one of the balads in the collection of Child’s Ballads, and it is English. I like many contemporary versions of this piece but Loreena’s is the best, because of her vocals and because of the magnificent harp! It was also the first version of this song I’ve heard, and I immediately fell in love with it. The plot of the ballad is quite, um, cliche, and now as I’m older than when I discovered “Annachie Gordon” it’s hard for me to listen to it without my sarcastic brain commenting and criticising the storyline (I basically think looking at it from these days perspective, the heroine, Jeannie, makes an impression of someone quite manipulative, I understand her pain when she was faced with having to live being married to a man she didn’t love instead of her beloved Annachie, but the scene where she falls on her knees before her father and dies looks, well, yeah, manipulative, you start to wonder if she’s going to suddenly rise up as soon as everyone leaves her alone and run away with Annachie as far from lord Sulton and her family as possible. ๐Ÿ˜€ I know, I know, I’m crazy and overanalysing). I also think life would be so easy if we really could just switch off and die when life throws sh*t at us as in the case of Jeannie and Annachie. But well, it is a ballad. And still, it is a beautiful one. I remember being absolutely fascinated by it, and for some reason because of it I really loved the name Annachie, which, you must admit, is a very unusual name, I’ve never heard in any other context or on anyone other than Annachie Gordon. I’ve even named a character in one of my short stories Annachie after him. Though now my tastes have changed and I think it lacks masculinity and looks like a fancy elaboration of Anna in the style of Annalee or Annamae, but of the more kreativ kind. ๐Ÿ˜€ Well, I guess it was apparently recreated from some old feminine name actually. Anyway, here’s the song. Hope you’ll enjoy it too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Gwilym Bowen Rhys – “Jac-Yr-Oil”.

Hi guys! ๐Ÿ™‚

I am still very much in love with Gwilym’s last album, Arenig, so thought I’d share something else from it with you, this time an instrumental, three-part piece. And, since I am a Jac(k)ophile, in line with the song of the day that I shared with you yesterday – by Jac Richards – this one has also to do with Jac, with its title being “Jac-Yr-Oil”. I have no idea where the title comes from or what Jac is doing in it, I tried doing some research but it hasn’t made me any wiser. In any case, the track is beautiful. Just as the previous one I showed you a month ago – “Lloer Dirion Lliw’r Dydd” – was haunting, emotional, intense and rather melancholic, “Jac-Yr-Oil” is positive, energetic, refreshing, uplifting and full of enthusiasm, which just shows in a nutshell a wide range of emotions one can feel listening to this album. I love this about it so so much!

As I said, it is a three-part music piece, consisting of three folk tunes, one is composed by Gwilym, the second comes from Anglesey’s 18th century fiddler, John Thomas, and the last is a re-arranged composition of Stephen Rees’ “2 Cardi 3”. Here it is. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Gwilym Bowen Rhys – “Lloer Dirion Lliw’r Dydd” (Gentle moon, colour of the day).

Oh my! I just couldn’t wait to share with you guys something from this album! I was talking about it some time last month, well I guess around the beginning of May, it was released on May 1st. But as you can see it took a while because it’s only available on the streaming services since yesterday so although I have the album since as soon as I got to know it was released, only now I can share something with you. In a way that’s actually good though because I could familiarise myself with the whole album, with my music crushes it always takes me loads of time to wholely satisfy my musical cravings when they release something new and I always want to know it thoroughly and from all the possible angles.

I am really so, so impressed with this album! I wrote about it on my blog already earlier so I won’t be repeating myself but it just made me fall into pieces the first time I listened to it, so fascinated, engrossed, bewitched and just full of emotions I was, and even though I listened to all the songs and the album as a whole for many times already it still has theย  power over me, and I’m listening to it right now as well. It’s always hard to pick something you think is the best or that you love the most from things of which you love all, but I wonder whether it’s not the best album of Gwilym so far in my ranking, or whether it would be if I had a ranking. ๐Ÿ˜€ I am just so happy that my current music crush is so artistically fertile and unlike all my previous music crushes I am actually able to thoroughly celebrate all the joys that come with an appearance of a new album. ๐Ÿ˜€

This new album is called “Arenig”, which is in reference to Arenig Fawr – a mountain in Snowdonia in North Wales, and also the title track of this album is a poem written and read by Gwilym’s great uncle – Euros Bowen – about this mountain, which is a really beautiful poem. It’s hard to believe for me in a way that this beautiful album is an effect of improvisation, but that’s apparently how it is. I know it’s often so that things come out much better when improvised in music, but it makes me think that they all – Gwilym and all the people who contributed to the album – must be remarkably skillful improvisers, which I think is fairly rare. Talking about the contributors, there is Patrick Rimes on violin, he plays in the Welsh folk band called Calan which I also like, brilliant harpist from Scotland but with Welsh roots and who also speaks Welsh Gwen MaIri (I love her harp skills ๐Ÿ˜‚ ), and they both also played on Gwilym’s first album “O Groth Y Ddaear”, and there is also Marit Fรคlt, who plays viola, and, if I understood correctly, (I suppose I did given her Scandi-sounding name), she’s from Norway, so there’s even a little bit of a Nordic accent here! ๐Ÿ™‚

I had a real problem with what I am going to choose as the first piece from this album to share with you, I even thought maybe I’ll just link to the entire album and maybe write some extensive review or something but felt too shy to do such a grandiose thing as seriously publicly review one of my crushes’ album, I always write down my reviews of albums I love for myself and I relish in doing so but never published that anywhere. ๐Ÿ˜€ But after some deep thinking I came to the conclusion that the most beautiful piece on this album for me, regarding the melody, the performance and the lyrics is “Lloer Dirion Lliw’r Dydd”, which is a traditional song, though the second verse is known to be written by John Ceiriog Hughes. It’s incredibly evocative, magnetic and enchanting, and just don’t know how else to describe it adequately. ๐Ÿ˜€

The thing I really like about traditional music, one of many things, especially from Gwilym, and there are also a couple other Celtic people I can think of right now, is the words. I mean, when I was listening to this album before I read the lyrics and translations, I understood some bits and pieces, it wasn’t very much, but I could still thoroughly enjoy music because that’s how it is with folk music very often – even if it is in the most out there language you can still understand the language of music itself and connect with it almost as deeply as through the actual language. But when I read the lyrics, I realised that there are not only plenty of new, enticing, luscious, colourful, magical Welsh words for me to discover, (I didn’t even know that moon is lloer, I only knew the word lleuad for moon in Welsh but it seems like they have two! I now can’t stop wondering what’s the difference, will have to do some research after I write this post, I lthink loer sounds even better), but also a fair handful of English words in the translations that I didn’t know previously. I just love such discoveries! And all those linguistic findings also satisfied my synaesthesia very much, so it’s not only the music. The same was with the previous album “Detholiad O Hen Faledi I”, well actually there were even more new English words to me. That shows how sophisticated folk music can be at times, even if it might not always seem so. ๐Ÿ™‚

OK, end of my elaborate. Here’s the translation of the song, which I’ve taken from

Gwilym’s website,

and below is the song, although it’s on Spotify, so very sadly only those of you who have Spotify will be able to listen to it whole, I didn’t see it on Youtube or anywhere that would be a bit more inclusive.

 

Gentle moon the colour of day,

in pain and in sorrow, Iโ€™m in a sad daydream.

From splendid astonishment,

my heart is so weak I shanโ€™t live much longer.

When I saw your face you wounded me like a sword,

I received an injury without realising it,

tonight Iโ€™m ready for my grave.

Oh good gentle goddess, hear this injured man,

save my life, lovely moon the colour of summer.

Some peopleโ€™s interests lie in material things,

but on the purity of a fair moon

I gave my whole intentions, one and all.

If I could only have you, I would confidently proclaim

that I had more than enough wealth, pure girl.

Gentle moon the colour of day,

I see your light, you with a pleasing face.

From life to the grave, you are my queen,

fair warm farced one.

You are my fire, the inspiration to my song,

the heavens never did behold

through the light of the sunโ€™s cycle,

such a wonderful sight.

I raise up my head, and look to the skies,

shine upon me, white moon the colour of snow.

Some hold the moon responsible

for pulling the threads and strings of the seas,

the ebb and flow of the tides in and out.

But you, my love, are responsible

for pulling the strings of my heart,

gentle moon the colour of day.

Bwncath – “Cรขn Lon” (A Joyful Song).

Hi people! ๐Ÿ™‚

So, as I promised, I’m bringing you another song by this year’s “Cรขn I Gymru” winner – Elidyr Glyn – or actually his band called Bwncath. This is a beautiful song, however it’s a bit of an enigma to me honestly! As you’ll be able to hear (hope that you’ll be able to hear at least a bit even if you don’t have Spotify, it’s annoying how it works that if you don’t have it you can only listen to an excerpt of a song) it’s actually a very sad song, both regarding the music, and, as far as I can tell with my lame Welsh skills, the lyrics as well, it even says “Cรขn o dristwch ydi hon” if I got it right, which means “This is a song of sadness”. Yet it’s called a joyful song. Irony or what?! Seriously, I guess that there just might be something key in the lyrics that I don’t get. Because at the beginning he sings “Mae gen i gรขnau o lawn llon…” (I have songs full of joy) or something like that, and I guess later on there is something like that this one is different. Well yeah, figuring out the lyrics while not being fluent in a language, that can be very interesting at times. ๐Ÿ˜€ But in any case, I love this song, and if there is indeed something ironic, I like that a lot too, I like some irony in music, like when you have a very cheerful melody and tragically depressing words. And if it’s not irony, maybe when my Welsh gets better I’ll be able to figure out exactly what’s the point here.