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How Pop went Pagan

By Nell Frizzell

In fact, paganism has been influencing pop before Natasha Khan was but a twinkle in her father’s eye. The folk revival of the 1960s brought paganism into the lyrics and on to the sleeves of everyone from Pentangle to the Incredible String Band. While the Jackson 5 were singing I Want You Back on American Bandstand, over in Britain, Pentangle sang: “A knight came riding to the lady’s door/He’d travelled far to be their wooer.”

For a while, wizards, maidens, dragons and knights ruled the airwaves. After the 60s folk revival came to an end pagan pop dispersed in various directions, such as metal (Wolfchant, Behemoth and Dark Funeral), folk (from Fairport Convention and the Mediæval Bæbes to Devendra Banhart and Circulus) and AOR rock and pop (Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush, even – dare I say it – Enya).

Whether labelled as prog, psychedelia, new folk or new age, pagan-influenced music has twisted, adapted and bloomed into the pop harvest of today. Fleet Foxes sound like something your Icelandic poetry tutor would listen to in the bath; Clinic’s video for Harvest sees the band dancing around stone circles; Patrick Wolf dresses like a griffin; Wild Beasts’ video for All the King’s Men is a veritable festival of hessian sacking; Fever Ray dresses as a shaman in the video for When I Grow Up; the Young Knives feature a suburban Wicker Man on the sleeve of Voices of Animals and Men; Royksopp return to nature with their new video This Must Be It … I could go on.

Read the original article at: Guardian Music Blog

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