June 4, 2012

The Lost Highway

Before I became a pharmacy technician eight years ago, I was a delivery driver for a local pharmacy who had contracted with my hometown's nursing homes. They ran their operation out of a cramped back room, and when I came down every afternoon to pick up my load, the pharmacist would have music blasting out the back door. Being that he was an old hippie, I heard a lot of classic rock (cranked up to 11). I also kept hearing, in stark contrast, this female singer who was a bit folkie, a bit Celtic, and a bit Middle Eastern all rolled into one.

Her name was Loreena McKennitt, and the CD was The Book of Secrets.

I have all her CDs now, but I think Book is definitely her masterpiece. The crown jewel of the collection is a ten-minute-plus tour de force called "The Highwayman," which is Loreena setting the old Alfred Noyes poem to music. (The poem can be found here.) Her voice is picture-perfect throughout, as is the song's pacing. The instrumentation is heavy with acoustic guitars, violins and cellos, but when she reaches the climax, this song rocks.

Never mind the length. Give it a listen. I think you'll be as mesmerized as I am.

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