The 10 Best Loreena McKennitt Songs of All Time

Loreena McKennitt’s songs have a magnetic pull whenever you listen to them. This is phenomenal, considering that as a young girl, she dreamed of working with animals as a veterinarian or in wildlife. However, she has since woken up from that dream, saying music chose her. As soon as she started studying folk music and then Irish history, it was hard to stop. So, McKennitt gave it her all by delving deep into music. She is now a singer-songwriter known for her love for Celtic Folk music. Some of the best of Loreena McKennitt’s songs are listed below.

10. Bonny Portmore

McKennitt talked to NPR regarding the inspiration for most of her songs, one of which is “Bonny Portmore.” The singer disclosed that she was inspired by ancient Ireland’s history. According to the interview, McKennitt said that Ireland was once heavily forested, but trees were cut down to pave the way for the building of ships. Therefore, in this song, she is lamenting the deforestation that happened around Belfast.

9. The English Ladye and the Knight

Although McKennitt is a talented songwriter, she did not write the lyrics to this song. Instead, due to her appreciation for poetry, she borrowed the lyrics from a poem, “It Was an English Ladye Bright” by Sir Walter Scott. Despite the poem being over two centuries old, McKennitt still found it relevant to today’s music. The poem is about a Scottish knight who falls in love with a woman. Unfortunately, the woman’s brother disapproves of the relationship and thus kills his sister. The Scottish knight avenges her murder by killing the woman’s brother.

8. Full Circle

The song delves into different environmental conditions. The first verse is during the night when stars appear in the dark sky. In the second verse, it is during daybreak, and as the sun rises, it can be observed over the dunes in the desert. In the third verse, it is winter, and snow covers the ground. However, one thing remains constant in all the verses – the stillness and calmness as people pray. It could be a song that shows that people should learn to be appreciative regardless of the circumstances.

7. Lullaby

This song is yet another inspired by a poem penned by William Blake. Blake is hailed as an extraordinary poet despite having not attained formal education. He was exceptional and even alleged to have had encounters with celestial beings, going as far as saying that he once saw the face of God through a window. It is no wonder that this song shows the majestic nature of God. When he wrote who can stand the voice of thunder and the whirlwind of fury that comes from God’s throne, it is clear that Blake has a deep reverence for God. With McKennitt also being a musician with strong spirituality, it is no surprise that she ended up loving the song enough to record it.

6. All Souls Night

This song is hypnotic. Even if you have never heard McKennitt’s songs, this one pulls you in and keeps you fixated on her beautiful voice and soothing music. Some fans praise the song for being so calming that their mothers listened to it while pregnant. It is all about a pagan ritual, and with McKennitt being so inspired by Celtic traditions, it could be one of their many traditions. Some people say the song gets them into the spirit of Samhain, while for others, it is reminiscent of the solstices they once celebrated in childhood.

5. Penelope’s Song

In her interview with World Central Music, McKennitt says that she was inspired by Penelope, wife to Odysseus, to write this song. Penelope is hailed as the faithful wife who stays true to her husband despite his long absence. She uses cunning methods to ward off suitors and even when her husband finally returns, he has to prove his identity for him to be accepted back into her loving arms. McKennitt loves this trait and writes about it.

4. The Dark Night of the Soul

Love has always been a great inspiration, as shown by the lyrics of this song. McKennitt is telling the story of a woman whose passion runs so deep she can no longer bear it. Therefore, in the dead of night, she takes a lantern and goes to meet her lover in a secluded place where they are sure no one can find them. They make love beneath the trees, and she falls asleep on his chest. They lay there without a care in the world, with their passions fully quenched.

3. The Mystic’s Dream

The song seems to talk about love and its effects on the narrator. She is so in love with this person that she can hear him calling through her heartbeat. Even when other noises try to drown the call, she knows her lover’s voice, with his love offering a guiding light in the dark. There is so much symbolism and imagery in this song every listener might interpret it differently.

2. Caravanserai

Inspiration comes from different places and for McKennitt it is usually drawn from her travel experiences. For instance, in “Caravanserai” the singer detailed how she was inspired to write about it by observing how travelers view homes as whichever place they find themselves. She recounted her experience in Mongolia where she stayed with a nomadic family that planned its travel based on where the livestock would find pasture. She said such scenarios are common in nomadic cultures thus “Caravanserai” is informed by how some people take home to be the caravan, not the physical place.

1. The Mummer’s Dance

McKennitt admitted to not being a confident writer, a trait that led her to almost stop midway through writing the lyrics to the song. Luckily, she asked for the opinion of a fiddle player who boosted her confidence by telling the singer to keep working on the lyrics. When the lyrics finally made their way to Warner Bros Records, the label decided to remix the song. McKennitt was comfortable with the decision so long as they did not distort her work too much.

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