“Who can say where the road goes?
Where the day flows?
Written by Roma Ryan/Enya
Produced by Nicky Ryan
Taken from the album A Day Without Rain
Also released on Only Time: The Collection and The Very Best Of Enya
US #10, UK #32
I debated with myself whether to mention September 11, 2001 in this write-up of ‘Only Time’, but it would be silly to ignore the reason most people know the song exists, the event most people associate with it, and the way it became Enya’s biggest American hit. This is, after all, supposed to be a light-hearted blog, but I’m trying to tell the stories of these songs and what they mean to me.
I would be embarrassingly inept at trying to tell you about the wider effects of 9/11 or what it meant on a global scale – I’m sure everyone is well aware anyway. Almost a decade on, it is still a vivid memory. I can, however, try and explain what it meant to someone quite young at the time and very far away. I was eleven years old in 2001, and although I knew about New York City through TV and movies (mostly Seinfeld), I was unaware there was even a building called the World Trade Center, and I associated the word “pentagon” with a shape, not a place. But by witnessing that day, by staying home from school and watching the news for so many hours, I was pulled quite rapidly out of the ignorance of childhood and shown, in a visually horrific and endlessly documented tragedy, the reality of evil. It was, as they say, the end of innocence. Mine is an inconsequential story as opposed to those directly involved and affected, but I don’t think anyone wasn’t a little bit changed that day.
After the attacks, a Flash presentation began circulating via email, with photos in a slideshow set to ‘Only Time’, a single that had been released in 2000 from Enya’s fifth album, A Day Without Rain. The song fit the mood of sadness and remembrance, and became a song associated with feelings of hope in the months that followed. Through extensive airplay, it would become Enya’s only solo top ten hit. The song itself is quietly majestic, even removed from the weight of it’s surroundings, a beautiful and reflective piece of music.
‘Only Time’ is perhaps the fullest and most triumphant realisation of the Enya “sound”, the perfect marriage of lyrics and atmosphere and production. Not a single other song of Enya’s can make me feel as much as this can, and bring out so many emotions. It would be futile to try and decipher whether that is because of the association with September 11 or not – the song and the tragedy are now connected forever in my mind and in the minds of many others. A key piece of music from our last decade.