Last night, I went to a concert I'd been waiting decades for. Loreena McKinnett came to Kingston, purposefully in a small venue to play many of her earliest songs from the eighties, which is when my wife and I started listening to her. Her voice hasn't changed. I'd have to say, in fact that it may be richer and more melodic than ever.
She started in busking in the early eighties and her early music reflects that: she was supported on stage by her old-time companions, Brian Hughes and Caroline Lavelle on guitar and cello, and did many of our old favourites, like Bonny Portmore, Greensleeves, The Bonny Swans, The Wind that Shakes the Barley. But my favourite, was the W. B. Yeats poem set to music, "The Stolen Child":
I remember one cold winter's night in Washington, after I'd held a dinner party for some of my work-mates. We had been working 12 hours a day for weeks because of what was going on in Rwanda, and I played the song for a colleague because she asked me "yes, but what do you really want to do?" and I explained the lines:
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Because that's it, really. Sometimes the world is too full of weeping, and nothing else is worthwhile. Here's the rest of the poem, if you're not familiar.