Music Review: Nightwish’s Song of Myself

Though I have zero musical talent–I can’t even whistle–music is important to me. I’m more likely to kill time by listening to music than by watching television. Often on my days off, I turn off the lights and sit in darkness and listen to music. I love music from several genres, from Classical music to Rock-n-Roll, from Celtic songs to that Disco beat. Though I never considered myself a fan of Country music, there are several country songs that I love, and I there are several Johnny Cash songs that I love hearing over and over again. The same can be said about Blues, Soul, and Folk. In my music library are songs as diversed as Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” and Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” as diversed as Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend” to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Recently, to this varied collection, I added Nightwish’s “Song of Myself.”

I discovered the song by accident. Researching Walt Whitman, I Googled Song of Myself–argubly his most famous poem–and became intriqued to see that the Nightwish song was among the top hits. I listened to it by watching the video below and became an instant fan. In the past, I’ve been reluctant to write music reviews–since I can’t create music–but since my heart attack, I considered BEAUTY a theme of this blog, and so I write about BEAUTY whereever I find it. “Song of Myself” is beautiful. It’s hard, it’s edgy, but it’s also beautiful.

The nightingale is still locked in the cage

The deep breath I took still poisons my lungs

Founded in1996, Nightwish is a Finnish Metal band. The founding members included Tuomas Holopainen (keyboardist), Emppu Vuorinen (guitarist), and Tarja Turunen (vocalist). In 2005, Annette Olzon replaced Turunen as singer, and in 2013, Floor Jansen, seen in the video, replaced Olzon. Other current members of the band are Jukka Nevalainen (drummer), Marco Hietala (bassist), and Troy Donockley (uilleann pipes). “Song of Myself” appears on their 2011 concept album Imaginaerum. They also created a movie by the same name. Though I’m interested in seeing it, it’s obscure, at least in the United States, and I have yet to track down a copy I can watch.

Nor have I listened to the complete album. Though I like “Song of Myself” and a couple other songs from the album, since I’m not a Metal fan, there’s only so much Metal I can listen to in one setting. Despite this, I believe I will, one day soon, sit down and listen to the entire album. It sounds a perfect mid-winter pastime. Like Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Imaginaerum is a concept album. It tells the story of an old composer looking back at his youth. Since she was the main vocalist when the album was cut and released, Annette Olzon is the singer on the album version of the song. This is a long cut, over thirteen minutes, but the last seven or so minutes are the various performers reciting poetic vignettes. It’s beautiful and fascinating, and it’s well worth hearing. I prefer the album version to the video before, but the video is entertaining to watch.

“Song of Myself” is a big song, operatic in scope and character. It’s an intriguing song with a great rhythm, a thundering backbeat, and compelling riffs. Like any Metal song, it might not suit the taste for every listener, but I think its theme and sound gives it a  reach beyond just Metal fans.



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