Enya and my magical childhood imagination

The Stammering Dunce
3 min readJul 16, 2021

Also published on Wordpress.

It sounds like I grew up listening to her songs. I didn’t. The only ones I had stumbled into were Orinoco Flow and Only Time, her most famous works (and arguably her more overrated). Every person who had access to mass media in the 90’s definitely had heard of both.

I started to listen more of her works when I was in high school. Despite the relatively late exposure, I found myself feeling nostalgic.

Somehow, her songs remind me of my childhood imagination, a magical universe where exciting, otherworldly adventures fill my daily lives and spiritual contentment await me at every destination.

I know that’s a very vague description. But, that’s the best I can describe it briefly and concisely.

As I was a dumb child and teenager with stunted communication skills, I had difficulty in describing my imagination. I was pleasantly surprised to find songs which perfectly evoke it in musical forms, even though I never heard of them before.

It is possible my young self listened to her lesser known songs and the memories are stuck in the subconscious. But, I doubt that. It is not the individual song’s melody which triggers the nostalgia, it is her overall style.

I tried listening to other New Age musicians. But, none of them triggers the same emotion.

Clannad (Enya’s family’s band, in where she was a member for one album), Andreas Vollenweider and Paul Winter also make great New Age works. But, theirs are too “folksy”.

Instead of depicting the otherworldliness, they seem to depict the perspectives of laymen who long for it; they are more “down-to-earth”. It does not help that they are more musically eclectic; Clannad originally performed Irish folk music exclusively while Winter and Vollenweider also do Jazz and European Classical, respectively.

I also find ethnic music -wherever it is from- New Agey as well. But, it is either “down-to-earth” like Clannad, Winter and Vollenweider’s or evoking mythological imagery associated with said cultures.

Religious music -not the pop kind- can also be New Agey and, like Enya’s, it also evokes otherworldly imagery in my head. But, as expected, the otherwordliness is religious in nature; instead of making me feel excited about adventures, it only reminds me to not be hedonistic 24/7.

Enigma is the worst so far. The music reminds me of the people who are inspired by every single inspirational quote and story they encounter. You know, self-righteous, pseudo-spiritual swines whose brainpower is comparable to the one of beached jellyfish.

They all deal with metaphysical themes. But, Enya is the only one whose works reignite my childhood imagination..

I wonder whether music theory can explain it. It may or may not able to. But, I do have a hypothesis: her music is meant to evoke imaginations like my childhood one.

Not only that I find Occam’s razor useful at times, it is also conceited to believe I am the only one who has such childhood imagination. It is possible that her works are intentionally created to be enjoyed by people like me. It is even more possible that she is one of those people.

Obviously, that’s just a rough guess. I cannot be certain about the nature of her imagination and her intention as a musician. But, it is certainly way better than framing my seemingly-inexplicable nostalgia of Enya’s music as a haunting mystery of the universe.

Yes, it feels nice to do so. But, it is intellectually dishonest and conceited.






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