Who Can Say When the Noodle Boils? Only Time …
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks upon the World Trade Center, amid the emotional upheaval and flat-out shock experienced by United States citizens from all walks of life, one song in particular—from a rather unexpected source—seemed to give the nation’s grief-stricken an inordinate amount of solace.
No, it wasn’t anything overtly patriotic or jingoistic. The tune had not a whiff of Lee Greenwood-esque swoops, rallying yodels, and martial ballyhoos.
Rather, the song was a previously obscure track from an album by New Age chanteuse par excellence, Enya. The song was called ‘Only Time,’ and had been culled from a recent Enya collection called ‘A Day Without Rain’ (or ‘Pain Without Rain,’ or ‘Rain Without a Day,’ or ‘I’m Standing On the Parapets of My Irish Castle Watching the Money Roll In’)—I forget the actual album title, but the song was not easily forgotten.
Americans connected with ‘Only Time’ and its somber, orchestral lyrics about not knowing where the day goes, where hearts flow, as love goes, and where love flies, and so on and so forth. Couched as it was in Enya’s signature vocal layers and the ethereal production values that tend to grab listeners and transport them immediately to a dewy glade surrounded by gnarled and grasping oak trees beneath a budding dawn (while the prior’s evening’s faery revelers twinkle off to bed), ‘Only Time’ was meditative. Its melody and lyrical simplicity were appropriate balms for soothing the scars and wounds of a cataclysmic strike against the heart of human decency.
The track gained airplay across the nation (and world) as if out of nowhere following 9/11, and a portion of the proceeds were allocated by Enya for victims of the terroristic assault. People stopped to listen. They allowed the gentle and mesmerizing atmospherics of the song to permeate their helter-skelter worlds, even if ‘Only Time’ was hardly the kind of brain-frazzling, hyperactive, histrionic, terrier-in-heat banger that would ever stand a chance in hell of being played on Top 40 radio under typical conditions, even at that time.
But the song worked something akin to a noble artistic miracle over 20 years ago, became a much-loved and respected reminder of both immense grief and human hopefulness, enshrined in the wider cultural ethos, and it won Enya a brand new level of respect and an even wider following (as if she needed more of either).
Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that, in the past few months while surfing YouTube, our fabled ‘Only Time’ has made yet another cultural comeback. Yes!
‘Only Time’ is now featured as the brief soundtrack of a YouTube ad promoting Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.
I shit you not.
No dialogue is present in the ad. Just a mother and daughter sitting at a typical kitchen table, enjoying forkfuls of that quick-cookin’ cheesy goodness. They aren’t even holding hands, staring at each other with ponderous significance, or weeping with gladness over the stovetop concoction as Enya’s hymn to human grief wafts over their steaming bowls of cheap elbow ’roni and cheese-related product sauce.
Nope. They are just looking relatively bored, as if savoring the moment of dignity-as-packaged-in-American-fast food.
Only Time. On the table in 10 minutes, if you don’t let the pot boil over and require a glass of boxed wine to deal with the starchy spill.
And people say that nothing is sacred, anymore.
Who knows when the noodle boils, when the sauce spoils? Enya does, apparently. It must be getting more expensive to keep an isolated Irish castle in acceptable staff members these days.
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