Myth references/motifs in music

Discussion in 'General Mythology' started by Rhonda Tharp, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

    Love music and mythology, and I started going back to songs from my childhood/teen years. I realized there were songs with so much imagery, symbolism and myth references that I missed when I was younger. I know some of you may have seen my Siouxsie and the Banshees post in the Offtopic section... You can tell the kind of music I like, so I may seem a bit limited with my genres.

    PLEASE help me find more songs with myth references, love sharing these with my students.

    Off the top of my head...

    Songs:
    Overground by Siouxsie and the Banshees for Persephone or Pan's Labyrinth
    Rabbit Hearted Girl by Florence and the Machine for Hermes/Midas/Sacrificial Lamb
    Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac for Welsh Horse Goddess Rhiannon
    Union of the Snake by Duran Duran for snake symbolism
    New Moon on Monday by Duran Duran for lunar celebration/worship
    Spaceman by the Killers and Major Tom by Peter Schilling for Icarus
    Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin for Vikings
    Shrinking Universe by MUSE for God - "you're the God of a Shrinking Universe"
    Cemeteries of London by Coldplay for to "see God in a new way"
    Impossibility by Remy Zero for son looking for his father, "as the old man stands to judge us all, I believe I am reborn"

    Bands:
    MUSE for obvious reasons, but they are more into political messages and 1984
    Mythology - black metal band
    Incubus
  2. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

    Totally forgot about Loreena McKinnit

    THE MYSTIC'S DREAM
    [​IMG] Print Lyrics

    Words and music by Loreena McKennitt
    A clouded dream on an earthly night
    Hangs upon the crescent moon
    A voiceless song in an ageless light
    Sings at the coming dawn
    Birds in flight are calling there
    Where the heart moves the stones
    It's there that my heart is calling
    All for the love of you
    A painting hangs on an ivy wall
    Nestled in the emerald moss
    The eyes declare a truce of trust
    And then it draws me far away
    Where deep in the desert twilight
    Sand melts in pools of the sky
    When darkness lays her crimson cloak
    Your lamps will call me home
    And so it's there my homage's due
    Clutched by the still of the night
    And now I feel you move
    Every breath is full
    So it's there my homage's due
    Clutched by the still of the night
    Even the distance feels so near
    All for the love of you.
  3. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

  4. Poolshark

    Poolshark New Member

    sheela na gig by pj harvey
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  5. RLynn

    RLynn Active Member

    Mythology is the subject matter of a lot of classical music, particularly opera. Norse mythology is featured in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen and the Holy Grail in Lohengrin and Parsifal. Egyptian mythology is prominent in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. (It contains a prayer to Isis and Osiris, which is the most sublime hymn I have ever heard. My brass quintet has played it in churches, but without revealing it's pagan association, of course.) The list goes on and on and on. Most people hate opera, so I won't bore you further.
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  6. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

    And Holst's "Planets"
  7. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

    Anyone familiar with Prajapati or Panku and Nuwa?

    From the darkness of chaos Prajapati said "I think therefore I am." and the universe was born.

    This song reminded me of that primitive state where there was nothing, Prajapati appears, thinks, and stars and moon are created along with his opposite/consort Saraswati

    Lyrics to Cosmic Love :
    A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes
    I screamed aloud, as it tore through them, and now it's left me blind

    The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
    You left me in the dark
    No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
    In the shadow of your heart

    And in the dark, I can hear your heartbeat
    I tried to find the sound
    But then it stopped, and I was in the darkness,
    So darkness I became

    The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
    You left me in the dark
    No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
    In the shadow of your heart

    I took the stars from our eyes, and then I made a map
    And knew that somehow I could find my way back
    Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too
    So I stayed in the darkness with you

    The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
    You left me in the dark
    No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
    In the shadow of your heart

    The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
    You left me in the dark
    No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
    In the shadow of your heart

    (Thanks to Nicola for these lyrics)
    javascript> var song_id = ""; var youtube_video = false; var lv_code = ""; var l_code = ""; var v_code = "";
    A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes
    I screamed aloud, as it tore through them, and now it's left me blind

    The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
    You left me in the dark
    No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
    In the shadow of your heart

    And in the dark, I can hear your heartbeat
    I tried to find the sound
    But then it stopped, and I was in the darkness,
    So darkness I became

    The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
    You left me in the dark
    No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
    In the shadow of your heart

    I took the stars from our eyes, and then I made a map
    And knew that somehow I could find my way back
    Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too
    So I stayed in the darkness with you

    The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
    You left me in the dark
    No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
    In the shadow of your heart

    The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
  8. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    That song is dedli! (In the slang where I come from, dedli, "deadly," means really kool/amazing/awesome ;)) Someone on Songmeanings.net related it to a relationship between Christ and the world. S\He had an interesting way of putting it, but, ah, well...

    Speaking of song-meanings, and Florence & The Machine, and her/their Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up), d'you have any thoughts/elaborations on what exactly this track is about? It's so eeriely enigmatic, more so (in my opinion) than her/their other really enigmatic songs because of the mythology references, and even in that the song refers to an obscure and peculiar aspect of Greek myth which wasn't really Greek, but rather Phrygian/ West Asian, and the named character (Midas) is the son of that fringe Phrygian goddess Kybele. But yeah, what d'you think this song is saying exactly? It also seems to make passes at Alice in Wonderland (mentions of "The looking glass") and the movie The Matrix ("Was that the wrong pill to take?"), which itself references Alice in Wonderland. And when it says to "Raise it up," raise what up? The rabbit heart? The offering? What exactly is the offering?

    I don't know what it means by asking "Who is the lamb and who is the knife?" but that enigmatic question is one of my favourite bits of paradoxical poetry :). I can't help but see a subtle reference to Jesus Christ there too, since he is both the lamb being sacrificed and the priest performing the sacrifice (as well as the God to whom the sacrifice is being made, for that matter). But you might disagree (and if the music video is anything to go by, it sure doesn't seem like what I'm talking about either). What d'you think? (You mention Hermes in your first post, to whom I see no reference in these lyrics.)

    As for other musical allusions/motifs, Sarah Brightman has a pretty good one in her Spanish song Hijo de la Luna, "Son of the Moon," which tells a folktale about the Moon begetting a son upon a Gypsy. The title track from the same album, La Lune (the album's actually called La Luna but the song, being French, is entitled La Lune), is pretty cool: it's brief, and I'll let you decide what bearing it has on any reference to a myth. This is a translation of the lyrics' original French:
    Under the clouds of the night
    I walk toward the clearing.
    In a silver burst I see her,
    The Moon

    She wears the veils of
    Eternity.
    Her halo embraces
    The stars,
    My Moon
    (Much better in the original language, though :()

    The French rap group Manau refer a lot to ancient and medieval Western European life in their album Panique Celtique, on which the track La Tribu de Dana, "The Tribe of Dana," might bear some folk memory of the Irish divinities called the Tuatha Dé Danann, "Tribe of the Goddess Danu."
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  9. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

    Interesting observations about Rabbit Heart. I had asked a few of my gifted/talented students for their interpretation and I got responses similar to yours - Christ/Lamb/Sacrifice, Midas sacrificed his daughter - turned to gold, or people choose their leaders then regret the decision once they are in office... I couldn't remember the logic the boy told me on the last one... However, I had also thought of the Matrix with the pill reference and wondered if the song had something to do with "waking up" or becoming enlightened. Who knows!!! I just saw her in concert three weeks ago. She was larger than life. I've included pics when she was singing Rabbit Heart.

    Attached Files:

  10. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

    I will look into Brightman and Manau. Those sound intriguing. I love symbolism and metaphor in music.

    Oh, and I remembered after I wrote the last post that Florence Welch's mother is/was a professor of literature, and Florence went to some of her lectures and said "they had a profound effect" on her... maybe the song is an homage to her mother's favorite literary pieces, or some of Florence's memories of her mother's lectures...
  11. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

    What is your interpretation of this song/video? You may want to look at the lyrics too...It's called Spectrum.
    The three colors she mentions in the song gave me some ideas of the different stages of spirituality, life, Armageddon or even the Greek Golden, Silver, Bronze ages, but who knows...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC-_lVzdiFE
  12. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    Oh, wow. Clearly a faaan of Flo & that thurr machine, 'ey? :) Even the avatar has changed to a pic of her(!)...

    Ah, I'd never thought of Flo speaking as Zœ (Midas' gold-transformed daughter) in Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)! After your response, my interpretation of the lyrics "Midas is king and he holds me so tight| And turns me to gold in the sunlight" has become that Midas (whoever he is) is someone in control (of what, though?), and him holding so tight to his daughter implies that despite his love for her, he loves his material wealth so much more that the latter love destroys the former, to the great detriment of the thing which he should love more in the first place. I like your thought about enlightenment and The Matrix pill. It now reminds me of what Morpheus says to Thomas Anderson/ Neo therein when he's giving him the choice between the two different pills, and that the one choice will allow him to see just "how far down the rabbit-hole goes" (there's another rabbit reference for us!).

    I'd heard Spectrum like once before but had not yet seen the video. Wow, I think I'm at an almost total loss on this one. Very abstract. Incidentally, the least abstract part of the lyrics—the song's bridge—is the spookiest!
    And when we come back we'll be dressed in black
    And you'll scream our names aloud
    And we won't eat and we won't sleep
    We'll drag bodies from their graves
    Eish! I dunno! The video's laden with symbolism which is very obscure to me. All I could say about it is that, apart from what seems to be a combination of some Madonna and some Lady GaGa, whoever had the most input here really likes ancient Egypt. Madonna comes to mind lyrically more so than anything else, especially the part of the song about "When it's time to pray," which immediately made me think of Madonna's Like a Prayer, what with the cathedral-choir riff & all. The costumes, I think, are Lady-GaGa-esque, but very mildly so. Hmmm... So why do I feel like all that is a not-so-brief way of saying that I really can't tell what's going on in the song or the video? The closest I could get is that Florence at some points in the video is clearly in a position of political power: in one instance she's enthroned and kitted out kinda like Cleopatra.
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  13. Caburus

    Caburus Active Member

    Mythic music inspired by a mythic event - according to Pindar, when Medusa was slain by Perseus, the lamenting cries by her sisters inspired Athena to compose a tune on the flute called "the tune of many heads".
  14. Myrddin

    Myrddin Well-Known Member

    I know the album -- I have a copy. The title song is actually La Luna (La Lune is the first track of the album, though the final track, La Luna, would be the title track).
    Here are the lyrics as they translate from Spanish:
    The night falls, silence.
    The darkness breathes quietly;
    Just the moon will be awake.
    It will cover us in silver,
    It will shine from the great sky;
    Just the moon will be awake.
    m
    The moon of the night will sweetly protect us.
    The moon of the night will sweetly protect us.
    m
    The night falls and it is there;
    It reigns over the whole sky.
    It will watch us with kindness,
    Illuminating the evening.
    m
    The moon of the night will sweetly protect us.
    The moon of the night will sweetly protect us.
    m
    The moon will not be awake,
    It will flee.
    The moon will vanish.

    It seemingly seems like a reference to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as well.
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  15. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    Oh, my bad: I have the album too but haven't checked it out in awhile... Forgot about the 2 different Luna/Lune tracks thereon.

    There's also Howl by Florence & The Machine, which is pretty heavy on the werewolf references.
  16. Myrddin

    Myrddin Well-Known Member

    Just listened to it. Not bad.
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