Loreena McKennitt & Lady of Shalott
Play • 24 min

Loreena McKennitt shares the story about how Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Lady of Shalott” became a song on her 1991 album The Visit. Classic poetry and books are often used as inspiration for modern songs. Marc Gunn shares why he wrote a song inspired by Anne of Green Gables.

It’s all on Pub Songs & Stories #245.


Welcome to Pub Songs & Stories. This is the Virtual Public House for musicians to share the stories and inspiration behind their music with your host Marc Gunn. Subscribe to the podcast and download free music at PubSong.com.

0:32 -  WHAT’S NEW?

  • Today’s show is brought to you by my Gunn Runners on Patreon. Thanks to our newest Patrons: Expat Fledgling, Krory D, Ryan and Kelly M, John M
  • I have a new Christmas single out. In fact, it’s another hobbit Christmas single. The song is called “Yuletide”.
  • Join the Gunn Runners Club on Patreon to download it now. I’ll tell you more about the song on the next show.
  • What are you doing while listening to Pub Songs & Stories? I’d love your thoughts and feedback. So take a picture of yourself or where you are or what one of these stories reminds you of. Post it on social media. Use the hashtag #pubstories so I can find it and share your story.



Arthurian mythology shows up a lot in my life. Whether it’s the Chalice Well that accidentally became a part of the Brobdingnagian Bards logo or my very first Renaissance festival, Excalibur Fantasy Faire. I love stories about life during the time of Camelot.

So I guess it wasn’t much of a surprise that I fell in love with Loreena McKennitt’s song “Lady of Shalott” 30 years ago. Her song was written based on a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. I have my own connection to it too which I’ll tell you more about in a bit.

But first, I’m extremely pleased to have Loreena McKennitt share her story about how and why “The Lady of Shalott” also became a song.

In September, she re-released a 30th anniversary edition of her 1991 album The Visit. The album has sold more than two million copies. It features all of the original songs remastered, plus, a bunch of live performances, alternate mixes, and even some interviews she’s done about the album.

8:11 - “The Lady Of Shalott Live Trio - October 28, 2016 Gaillard Centre” by Loreena McKennitt from The Visit - The Definitive Edition

You can find out more about Loreena McKennitt at https://loreenamckennitt.com/. You’ll also find her all over streaming. This story was released along with other stories as promo for The Visit, The Definitive Edition. So you can find out more about the songs from that album.

I gotta say I love her description of this song. I feel like she beautifully captured the imagery of the pastoral English countryside.

In the fall of 2019, McKennitt put her career on hold to place more time and attention on civic matters and climate change, while also advocating for stronger legislation to protect artists’ rights and encouraging people to buy their music directly from the artist whenever possible.

That’s fantastic. We need more people to work on the Climate Renaissance.


The musicians on this podcast are happy to share their music freely with you. You can find their music on streaming music sites. But streaming is a way to sample the music. If you hear something you love, these artists need your support.

Please visit their website, sign up to their mailing list and buy something.

The holiday season is nearly here. If you’re looking for gifts, why not a classic physical CD. I know, I know. Fewer people are buying CDs these days. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a great gift for some people.

If that’s not good enough, you can also buy a shirt, a sticker, a pin, a songbook, jewelry, or even digital downloads for you or a friend. Your purchase allows musicians to keep making music.

If you’re not into the physical stuff, many artists accept tips or are on Patreon. So please support the arts.

If this show made you happy, then you can also join the Gunn Runners Club on Patreon. Your support pays for the production and promotion of my music and this podcast. If you have questions or comments, drop me an email.  Save 15% with an annual membership.


Before I fell in love with Loreena McKennitt’s song I had already fallen in love with “The Lady of Shalott”. That was because of a TV mini-series called Anne of Green Gables.

The show was based on the books by Lucy Maud Montgomery. There’s a wonderful scene in the series where Anne Shirley and some friends reenact the story of “The Lady of Shalott” using a boat. Anne is lying in the boat with flowers across her chest. Her friends push her out onto the river as she recites the poem. The boat slowly glides downstream before it springs a leak. She sits up and tries her best to scoop water out of the sinking boat. Eventually, she is rescued at a bridge by her love interest, the dashing Gilbert Blythe.

My mom introduced me to the VHS of the mini-series during my senior year of high school. I don’t know why the show resonated so much with me. Maybe it had a lot to do with the beautiful imagery of Prince Edward Island and the wild imagination and creativity of “that Anne-Girl.” It still delights me to this day, though I haven’t seen the show in probably a decade.

In college, I read all of Montgomery’s books and even devoured a book of poetry by her. I remember one poem resonated a LOT at the time. But I can’t for the life of me remember what it was.

By 2004, Anne of Green Gables was sort of a comfort show for me. I used to watch shows on repeat while I worked. This one regularly made it into rotation for me. One evening I was watching it. I paused the show and picked up the autoharp. I wrote a tribute to dreamers like Anne. The song was sadly short-lived at shows. But I eventually recorded it for my CD, A Tribute to Love.

20:49 - “Here’s to the Dreamers” by Marc Gunn from A Tribute to Love

23:02 - One final question: What song would you like to hear more about?

Pub Songs & Stories was produced by Marc Gunn. The show is edited by Mitchell Petersen with graphics by Miranda Nelson Designs. You can subscribe and listen wherever you find podcasts. You can also subscribe to my mailing list. You will get regular updates of new music, podcasts, special offers, and you’ll get 21 songs for free. Welcome to the pub at www.pubsong.com!

#loreenamckennitt #theladyofshalott #anneofgreengables #pubsongs 

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