SotD: Enya, “Orinoco Flow”

My best recollection of my music video-watching habits in 89 is that they’d bifurcated away from mainstream MTV; by day I often checked into the more adult contemporary stylings of VH-1, while on Sunday nights I fed my growing college-rock tendencies by watching 120 Minutes. There’ll be plenty of evidence of both strands as the year progresses.

Today, we’re hitting the VH-1 side with the charming “Orinoco Flow” from Irish singer-songwriter Enya. Both sound and visuals appealed immediately, and it wasn’t too long before I picked up Watermark. Thirty years ago this week, “Orinoco Flow” was on the cusp of hitting the Top 40 (#45 on the 3/4/89 Hot 100). Despite being a worldwide smash—it went Top 10 in over a dozen countries, including #1 in the Netherlands, Ireland, Israel, Switzerland, and the UK—it would make only #24 here. On the other hand, it did go Top 10 on both the AC and Modern Rock charts here in the U.S., a sign that it really was in my sweet spot at the time.

The song essentially name-checks a number of islands, ports, and bodies of water around the globe. It wasn’t until I started writing this up that I looked into some of the references. In doing so, I’ve learned some things about West Africa, the Inner Hebrides, the Philippines, and Madagascar, among other places. I’ve enjoyed the research.

It took over twelve years for Enya to hit the Top 40 again; “Only Time,” first released in 2000, received much airplay in the aftermath of the 9/11/01 attacks and reached #10.

Finally, Watermark is notable on a personal level: I believe it was the only point of intersection in my and Martha’s CD collections when we got married.

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