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I have had a love affair with music my whole life. When all of my friends were swapping football cards in the playground, I was reading Music magazines. When I was three years old I started singing, at the top of my voice on my rocking horse. When I was 8 years old I got my first guitar. Music is a universal language, and I’m blessed to be able to earn my living from the music I make.
Pagans love books and I’ve already written about the books that influenced me as a Pagan here, and I cheated too, as you’ll find two albums in that list of books. But this isn’t necessarily a list of music that has influenced my Paganism (although some of it surely has), but more a list of music that changed my life.
I’m sure you have yours too!
In no particular order –
Black Sabbath – Some years back a group of concerned American parents, led by Tipper Gore, campaigned for little Parental Advisory stickers to be put on CDs to warn parents that the music contained swearing, or lyrical content that might be a little dodgy. These appeared during my late teens/early twenties and in truth they were like a red rag to a bull, or a label of status. These parents thought that some of the lyrics might lead children to explore the occult. Well, when I was a kid there were no stickers, and one of the first bands that peaked my interest in Magic were Black Sabbath and Rainbow. I remember putting on my first Sabbath album, and that poor little Damh really thought the Devil might appear (I was very young at the time), but I knew that this music was what I’d been looking for. So I took the risk. He didn’t appear. At least not the Devil. And I guess Tipper and those parents were right, and I did explore the occult, but I’m still an ok guy.
And what can I say about Ronnie James Dio. Rainbow took me on spiritual journeys that were so vast and deep I could barely comprehend what I was seeing and hearing. They brought a world of magic to life for me, and also were the people, I’m sure that got me playing Dungeons and Dragons!
And then this happened! My little Metalhead and Magician heart almost burst.
What a voice… Much missed.
So that’s two!
Ok, I have to include this one. Sitting with my Mum and Dad, eating tea on a Sunday night, and then this happens. I’m sure this series sowed the seed in many a young Pagan heart.
Yes Clannad were a huge influence on my Pagan explorations, as was this program. It was the first time I heard words like Beltane, and the first time I met Herne the Hunter. Love it.
A list of music that changed my life wouldn’t be complete without Loreena McKennitt. I think when I first pressed play on The Visit, my head exploded with images as I first heard this song.
When I was eight years old my guitar teacher was an Irishman named Tim O’Leary. He taught me how to play by ear, and one of the first songs he taught me was this one. It has one of the best opening lines from any song, ever written, ever. Fairport Convention’s renditions of Tam Lin and many another folk tale led me to explore our mythologies and stories. I owe them much.
Another album that literally blew me away was Broadsword and the Beast by Jethro Tull. I was late to the party with Tull. This was the first album I bought of theirs, but it started what was to be a lifelong love affair.
My Dad was, and still is, a huge country music fan. I was weaned on the music of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, but there was one who I always chose to listen to, and that was John Denver. His music and songs about a connection to the wild places were a huge influence and guiding light for me.
The Levellers changed everything for me. I think their early albums were the soundtrack of my life for so many years. This song, Elation, still makes me come up in goosebumps.
Nearly there! But I hope your enjoying the music!
How could Led Zeppelin not have changed my life? Of course they did. I think of all their albums it was Led Zeppelin III that I played more than any other, and this song in particular.
And finally there is this band. I still absolutely adore Lynyrd Skynyrd and Southern Rock music, and this is one band who are on my bucket list to see. This song. Oh man.
I’m absolutely sure there are more, but that’s enough for now. As I say these were not so much influences on my own music, nor my Paganism, but rather were signposts and gateways that opened my eyes and more accurately my ears. I can pretty much remember exactly where I was the first time I heard each one, and they are still played to this day. Surely that is the test of a good song. If you can still play it years later, then it must have always been good.