May 28, 2010

Oldfield's Sentinel

Another posting from correspondent DMarks about the music of Mike Oldfield:There's this Oldfield song, "Sentinel," from "Tubular Bells II." Both the song and album did moderately well, much better than the other Mike Oldfield songs.

When it was released, I remember hearing that the few lyrics were in a Native language. I can't find which language right now.

Check out the video:
with the Indian (?) maiden dancing throughout, and historic photos of Native chiefs and others scattered among the faces of others and the video ruins.Comment:  The song has a bit of a tribal beat or vibe to it. The video contrasts Greek- or Renaissance-style ruins with dignified photos of Indian leaders and a vibrant dancing woman.

She combines sleek modern dresses with a breastplate and feathers. I presume she's supposed to be an Indian, and she may be one (she looks familiar). There's also a shot of tomahawks arching through the air.

I don't know if the video is sending a message. But with all the elements, we can guess at one. Seems to me it's saying that Western civilization may decline, but Native people and their values endure. While we're falling down, they're still dancing. Unlike us, they feel the earth's pulse, its music.

In other words, they serve as the "sentinel" of the title, watching over us like parents, hoping we'll grow up before it's too late. We took their land, so now it's our responsibility. We need to keep it safe, preserve it for future generations, as they would've done.

Or maybe I'm just imagining things. Who knows?

For more on the subject, see Oldfield's Native-Themed Songs and Oldfield's Song of Hiawatha.


dmarks said...

Interesting interpretation. The title "Sentinel" is supposed to be a tip of the hat to Arthur C. Clarke. The original short story for 2001 was called "The Sentinel". Oldfield later based an entire album on one of his novels.

Rob said...

I thought of the Clarke connection, of course. I didn't know if it had any validity, so I didn't mention it.

Your point basically confirms my interpretation, you know. The Sentinel and 2001 are about a superior race looking out for the welfare of an inferior race. In Oldfield's song and video, he links Indians with the advanced aliens and Europeans with the primitive humans.

dmarks said...

If that is true, then this is the most profound video he's ever done. And I've seen them all.