So, this week I discovered a new band. It seems to happen to me that I only come upon things after their heyday has ended. I do this with music, with books, with TV series — give it 2-3 years minimum after a thing was big, and that’s when I stumble across it.
Which, on the one hand, robs me of the chance to share it when it is new and exciting with like-minded people, but, on the other, gives me the opportunity to get to enjoy it all at once when it is finished, or go in knowing it never will be. For TV series, in particular, this has served me well in protecting me from killer season-ending cliff-hangers.
This time, the discovery is of the band Gregorian.
Basically, take one part stellar choral singers, one part German rock, and one part Gregorian style 7-tone musical scales, and mix with pop songs. I stumbled onto them through their versions of “The Sound of Silence” and “Hallelujah” and promptly needed to buy all their music, which I’ve pretty much listened to unceasingly since then.
And if they hadn’t won me over by being amazing at what they were already doing, they acquired my loyalty forever by producing this:
The song “The Last Unicorn” comes from the movie of the same name based on the book by Peter S. Beagle and that book, and movie, are one of the cornerstones of my entire life. It’s one of the secretly greatest fantasy novels of all time, funny and moving and surprising and irreverent and shockingly real all at once. The movie was a staple of my childhood into my adulthood; it followed me to college and into my first apartment and everywhere else since. The music had a permanent place in my stereo for a couple of years (when stereos were still a thing).
I met Peter S. Beagle once while he was on tour and came through Minnesota. (There’s a lot to the story of Mr. Beagle that I’m not going to go into right now — but it’s worth some research on your part if you’re concerned. You should be.) He signed my book, and I also bought a poster rendition of The Last Unicorn which he signed for me, too. But when I was standing there, I just had to tell him.
In many ways, I was a last unicorn myself. And the story of Mr. Beagle’s unicorn gave me the courage to go on my own journey and find my own people.
(Mr. Beagle told me that a young woman had said the same thing to him once, a woman adopted into a family of a different ethnic background than her own. That “you can find your people if you are brave,” and that sometimes the people who belong to us, and to whom we belong, are different than the ones we expect or even know to go searching to find. He also told me he stole that line from a poem he read in his youth and couldn’t remember where he got it from now, but he was glad it had helped me.)
Sometimes I am Molly Grue, fierce and fearless and honest and brash and true, and only the last unicorn in the world would ever come to me when I am this. Sometimes I am Schmendrick, adrift and trapped in the lostness inside my own skin and foolish and wise at the same time and clever and desperate, and I did not know that I was so empty to be so full. Sometimes I am Lir, noble and brave and driven by a heart I can scarcely recognize and generous and sorrowful and alone, and bound on all sides by the knowledge that things must happen when it is time for them to happen.
But sometimes I am the unicorn.
When the first breath of winter through the flowers is icing
And you look to the north and a pale moon is rising
And it seems like all is dying and would leave the world to mourn
In the distance hear the laughter of the last unicorn