10 of the Musicians/Bands that Changed my Life

10 of the Musicians/Bands that Changed my Life

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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.

27 responses to “10 of the Musicians/Bands that Changed my Life”

  1. Oh wow, that sounds exactly like my playlist only with me you would need to add Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield. All this us music to get lost in!

  2. Sounds like my music totally. The only one I never heard was The Levellers. And now I will search for them, they are hauntingly beautiful.
    Everything else is parallel to the music of my youth. Love it.
    I’m surprised you didn’t have Pentangle in there Dave.
    Blessed be

  3. Great play list their were only two that I wasn’t familiar with. The Levellers and Liege and Leif. The others could well have been my evolution of musical taste as well.

  4. Excellent list, Damh. I’d have included The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Omnia and yourself of course. Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Ritchie Blackmore and Lynyrd Skynyrd were a major part of my rebel teenage years. Jethro Tull is still amazing and thrilling after 50 years. Loreena McKennitt and Fairport Convention still blow me away after 20 years of hearing their music. Especially, Loreena. There is no one like her. I liked some of John Denver’s tunes, but was more into Cat Stevens. Folk-rock always will be my favorite form of music. Thank you for preserving this sound. Empty Hats and Emerald Rose were influential to my Celtic pagan path. Emerald Rose even performed at my handfasting. Never danced so much in my life. “Life is a Long Song”.

  5. Like you, Damh, I’ve had a love affair with music throughout my life, but there were certain artists/albums that made great impacts on me at different stages/ages in my life. When I was a teenager, it was Bruce Springsteen (I grew up on the New Jersey shore, so . . .). As I became an adult it was Elvis Costello (still one of my favorite song writers). I got into Bob Marley for a while – a lot of strong songs from him. When I discovered paganism there were several artists that helped me find my way – S.J. Tucker, Wendy Rule, Loreena McKennitt, and some long haired hippy dude named Damh the Bard. But there is one band more than any other that I have turned to at every stage of life: The Beatles. Through all the ups and downs, good times and bad, I’ve always been able to find something by them that fits and has meaning to me.

    Love your music, Damh, and I am SO looking forward to your Y Mabinogi albums. Peace!

  6. I love your list Dave, especially the Lev’s my all time favorite band, and Elation is my all time fav song, I can’t hear it live without crying, not only is it beautiful and haunting but it was playing as my son was born. Have you heard of Ferocious Dog? I think you would like them if you like the Lev’s.

  7. That’s a great list! A few I thought might be included ( in addition to some great suggestions already mentioned!): Steeleye Span, Lindisfarne and the Pogues,

  8. Thank you for sharing the music which has changed your life. It has really got me thinking about bands, albums and songs which have had a profound effect on my life.

  9. Dazed and Confused and Freebird forever (the Freebird live tribute made me cry). Great list Damh. Oh and Masters of Reality…2nd after Zep II. I can’t play a note but music moves the soul. Listeninbb to your podcast has opened up a whole new sound. Love your work!

  10. Fairport convention as a child along with Melanie were really magical to me. Uriah Heap at 6 years old hit the spot, the album cover mystifying me for years. As an early teen New Model Army were a real stand up and listen band and till this day absolutely captivate me, ironically Justin Sullivan has intertwined with the Levellers, once himself being called Slade the Leveller. I love all music for the way it makes me feel, I can’t play or sing but I can dance x Long live the music x

  11. Great list of music, have enjoyed listening. I can say that most of them are on my list of favourites.

    Sabbath were my gods as far as music went back then.And I still get blown away when I listen to their old stuff. My mum and dad got worried about their young daughter sitting listening to Sabbath with candles and incense burning in the bedroom. The small village I lived in was not ready for dancing with the Devil.

    Music is the food of love, play on. Ohh I got all Shakespearian then….

  12. so much fun reading this! my fav metal album of all time is paranoid! and i absolutely LOVE tull!! i have since the very first time i heard them when i was about 13 or so….many moons ago!! haha….i love to play tull while working on art for hours on end… great stuff!!

  13. After the family wind-up gramophone broke I didn’t have access to a record player until my then girl-friend (now wife) bought one at university and most of the folk-rock era came too late for me anyway – I’d already been trapped by the live folk music performances of Nic Jones, Tony Rose and, once, Steeleye Span at the uni. folk club and the nightly “Irish” sessions down at the pub. The narrative ballads sung by Nic Jones etc have been my own favourite ever since.

    We didn’t actually own many albums even when we had the record player but the weekly raffle prize at the folk club used to be passed around before raffling so I listened to quite a few and one that sticks in my mind to this day was the King Orfeo album of Archie Fisher. Tracks like King Orfeo and Norway Maid (a version of the Great Silkie of Sule Skerry) had all the atmosphere of Clannad but with lyrics you could actually decipher! (Those two tracks are on Youtube and worth a listen if you like magical stories well-told.)

    So a very different set of heroes to everyone else’s – but I’m still looking forward to the release of Y Mabinogi.

  14. More Elf than Druid, seemingly, but lightness nominates Donovan P. Leitch…age doesn’t matter much in the nature-resonanted clans of Elbereth. Thanks for all.

  15. Wow Damh great minds think alike. Ronnie James Dio will always be a master bard ( other than yourself ) who took me to places where wizards dragons and magik reigned and Jethro Tull I still play almost on a daily basis. The 80s Broadsword and the Beast album is one of my favourites and the beautiful Coronach which was used as the theme tune for the documentary series The Blood of the British. Do you remember it ? I have every Clannad album and I do think that Robin of Sherwood stirred feelings within me that couldn’t be denied. I had every Black Sabbath album my favourite Heaven and Hell but unfortunately gave them away to create space 🙁 and Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd is an absolute classic and yes who could resist the beautiful voice of Sandy Denny with Fairport Convention. The levellers were also a favourite of mine in the 80s Levelling the Land is an amazing album. I also love classical music and one composer that has influenced my life is Jean Sibelius the great Finnish composer. Much of his work are based on the old myths and legends of Finland including The Kalevala, The Lemminkainen legends and Pohjola’s daughter. They all transported me away to another realm when I was small and heralded me on to this very path I am walking now. Thank you Damh for sharing these and I have to say you have an amazing taste in music that has been the foundation of your amazing talent you share with us today. I think we can all agree here that a certain Damh the Bard will be placed if not already on many a person’s top ten list of influential artists that have changed or inspired lives. You have certainly inspired mine xxx

  16. You had me at Skynyrd! I love Southern rock and have seen them many times. Molly Hatchett is another I dote on. Here recently, I have become quite taken by Dahm the Bard. Causes some deep thinking on my part! Love your lyrics and your posts!

  17. There was a drama series on Showtime last year called Roadies. One of the episodes featured an extended flashback (like, half the episode) of the grizzled old road manager reminiscing about how he got his start in the business working for – and drinking and fighting alongside – Lynyrd Skynyrd. Cameron Crowe, the series creator and episode writer, had probably been in those same dressing rooms and bars as a writer with Rolling Stone back in the 1970s so it has the “right” feel that these kind of recreations often lack. The crescendo of the flashback uses the footage of Freebird from Knebworth to great effect. Worth tracking episode 8 (“The All Night Bus Ride”) down if you like that kind of thing.

  18. Wow, our music tastes are almost identical. I would also add Clannads magical ring, Rory gallagher irish tour ’74. and Jean michel jarre, oxygene.And now Spirit of albion, by some bloke you might know!

  19. Twenty-thousand Druids and 20,000 playlists. Metal never did much for me, except for King Crimson when Fripp forgot about taking prisoners, and I preferred proggier groups like Yes and Caravan. Then there were odd little things like “It’s a Beautiful Day,” and my mind was expanded to breaking point the first time I heard Nikhil Banerjee in full flight on the sitar.

  20. Greetings!

    Wonderful Post. Thanks for sharing it! 🙂 My all time # 1 Favorite is the Beatles! 🙂 It’s the only band my parents liked, when my brothers & I were young. They even took us in our Pajamas to the “Drive In movies” to see the Beatles movies! Each of my musician brothers looked like one of the Beatles, so I think that it was an influence in my parents’ acceptance of them & their music. LOL…My Dad taught my brothers to play guitar, and they were all in & out of bands when we were teens.

    My singing influences were Joni Mitchell, Heart (Nancy Wilson), Judy Collins, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, (Grace Slick), & then the lovely, Loreena McKinnett. My other music list of favorites includes The Moody Blues, Chicago, Jethro Tull (In college, I asked my music teacher to teach me “Bouree”, which is still my favorite.”), Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, America, The Doors, etc. I remember the magickal & amazing Black Sabbath concert, when Deep Purple opened for them!

    I began singing & dance classes at age 3, & my fondest memories of childhood, are of my younger brother and I dancing, while my mother played piano for us. I remember my recitals before age 5, and loving to do performances for the elementary school when I was in Kindergarten (& beyond :). My mother’s Welsh heritage brought singing and dancing to every family gathering. Blessed indeed!

    My parents always encouraged us to sing, dance, & do art (as my parents did). They gave up performance & art careers to raise 6 children, but still played, & did some of their arts at home. I am very grateful for that. I feel so Blessed to have had them as my parents. They have “moved on” to the Summerlands, beyond the veil, & still influence my life in many ways…

    Brightest of Blessings, Brigit 🙂

  21. Oh my goodness we have so many in common! Clannad really influenced me. Led Zep were my teenage discovery. Misty Mountain Hop is one of my all time favourites. Well the whole of that album actually. And I LOVE Loreena.

    Actually Damh, YOU have influenced me. Through your music and through Druicast. So thank you for passing on the Awen. Just this morning I wrote a song about the Triple Goddess. I had to record an acapella version immediately before it went out of my head. I’d be honoured if you’d tell me what you think.. (https://zaramoonstar.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/triple-goddess-a-tribute-in-song/)

    With a big family of six children, my moments of inspiration are fleeting! Plus I don’t play instruments well enough to do arrangements. I’d love to find local Pagan/Folk musicians to bring my songs to life. Know anyone in Kent???

    Lovely post as always Damh. I always look forward to Druidcast each month.

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