Behind the Song: “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)” by Enya

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The late 1980s were a time of change on the charts – most of the hair bands were on their way out, with Michael Jackson still in command at MTV and female singers like Whitney Houston and Taylor Dayne selling dance-pop platinum. Then a sound so new, from someone who valued vocals and production above image and danceability, came from out of nowhere, as Irish singer/keyboardist Eithne Ní Bhraonáin – better known as Enya – emerged with her second album, Watermark, and the single “Orinoco Flow,” which climbed the charts in over a dozen countries, reaching number one in several of them.

A former member of the legendary Irish family band Clannad, Enya, the notoriously private singer who doesn’t tour and rarely performs in public, has sold some 80,000,000 records worldwide, more than 25,000,000 of them in the U.S. alone, an amazing feat considering that she doesn’t undertake a live tour for each new album. Watermark has sold over 11,000,000 copies (depending on whose numbers you believe), and has been reissued three times. “Orinoco Flow,” sometimes known as “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away),” helped make her a household name in the genre of new age music, though Enya herself reportedly has never been …

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