Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Singers Love the Lady of Shalott

Why do so many singers love the Lady of Shalott? Several months ago I got it into my head to try to recreate the famous Waterhouse artwork in a photographic self-portrait (I haven't yet tried it), and searched the internet to see if any other photographer/model had done so, with no luck. I did, however, discover that several musicians have interpreted the artwork for their CD covers or music videos.

A few examples?

Of course, there's Loreena McKennitt, who has been my favorite singer for 14 years, and through whom I discovered the Pre-Raphaelites in the first place. She sings a version of the Tennyson poem.

Enya as the Lady of Shalott

A Fine Frenzy as the Lady of Shalott (a bit more of a stretch, but...boat, white dress?)

Emily Ovenden of the group Celtic Legend, in her music video "The Boatman"

And Patti Rothberg on the cover of her album "Candleabra Cadabra" (album title is cleverly written in the place where Waterhouse wrote the Lady's name on the boat)

I keep seeing new examples of singers using the Lady of Shalott as inspiration, so I'm sure there are more out there. Perhaps it's the fact that the Lady herself was a singer, with her voice as the only means by which her art could be expressed to others when she was trapped in the tower. Perhaps those musicians who use the Waterhouse art as a model don't even give it that much thought. But it is deliciously ironic.


Margaret said...

I love Loreena McKennitt's Lady of Shallott--the melody goes so well with the poem!

The lady of Shalott has become somewhat of an icon in English culture. Did you see Atonement? All the scenes by the water reminded me of Waterhouse paintings with the lighting and atmosphere...maybe it's a bit of a stretch, but I think the directors were aiming for it.

Grace said...

I haven't yet seen Atonement, but I believe...wasn't the Lady of Shalott one of the "antiquities" owned by V in the movie V for Vendetta? I had forgotten that until you mentioned movies :)

lindensidhe said...

Ih, i think it was!

I think the fascination with the legend is probably based on the fact that we all want what we can't have, and can identify with the Lady of Shalott. We might feel locked into the mundane lives we lead, forced to do what we must and longing for that forbidden fruit.
As for me, the empathy goes a step farther, what with my very own Lancelot and all...
Not to mention, of course, that it's an absolutely beautiful poem, and Loreena McKennitt's version is pure haunting loveliness. It's one of MY favorite songs to sing, beyond a doubt.
As a matter of fact, I walked into the bathroom just a couple of hours ago, and burst into, "A bow shot from her bower eaves..." lol
I love singing in the bathroom.

Grace said...

I think the way the poem weaves and the way it echoes the woven tapestry are both beautiful. And the irony of Lancelot blessing the woman who died because of him...makes for such a perfect ending.

Francisco said...

I think Enya had a similar pic in a boat in one of her albums too, the Kelts maybe?
regarding Loreena and celtic legend, have you heard Priscilla Hernandez, she´s a singer from my country, not very known, also in this line. I think she was in a fest with the celtic legend singer but I'm not very sure. I really like her a lot, although I keep on missing all her scarce live shows :(
Loreena came also to spain recently but I missed it too :(

Grace said...

Francisco, are you talking about one other than the one I posted? If so, wow...Enya really likes the Lady! :D

I have not heard of that musician, no...I'll have to look into her!

Lucy said...

There was also a song about her on the album "Ancient Spirit Rising" by the band Domine. They play power metal, but I've never heard their recordings.

Grace said...

Thanks Lucy...I'll have to try to track that down.

Margareta said...

This may not be the right place to post this, but, again something from
Anne of Green Gables I thought you might appreciate - She is enacting the scene in the boat - Lady of Shallott

Grace said...

How wonderful! I had totally forgotten about that scene :)

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to add this- the singer Emilie Autumn has made a song, which is named 'Shallot', and which is based upon the Lady of Shallot. You should hear it, it's great!

Grace said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Anonymous!

Anonymous said...

Another thing you might enjoy! The Band Perry's music video is a bit of a tribute to The Lady of Shallott:
Kinda odd for country, but it's always nice to see someone holding a book of Tennyson!

Anastasiya said...

In the TV Series "Merlin" there is an episode called "The Lady of the Lake". It does a little tribute to the Lady of Shalott at the end when Merlin puts the girl in a boat and sets her afloat on the lake. Thought you might enjoy this.

Gerber Medicare Supplement said...

Yeah, Anne of Green Gables has a great "Lady of Shalott" scene and the new song, "If I Die Young" from The Band Perry, depicts the Lady of Shalott a bit as well.

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