It is quite strange – given what we know today – that an artist would turn down an opportunity to participate in the “Titanic” (1997) movie, one of the biggest titles in movie history. But that is what Enya did. She said no to James Cameron and the mega blockbuster. Here we’re going to answer why she did it. It is an interesting part of New Age music history.
I’ll start with the ending; When Enya declined “Titanic”, Cameron brought James Horner in on the project. Via Wikipedia: «Their relations were cold after their first cooperation in ”Aliens”, but the soundtrack of ”Braveheart” made Cameron overlook it. Horner composed the soundtrack having in mind Enya’s style; Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø performed the wordless vocals on the soundtrack. Céline Dion, who was no stranger to movie songs in the 1990s, sang “My Heart Will Go On”, the film’s signature song written by James Horner and Will Jennings.» The rest is, as they say, history.
Last year we got some insight from Enya on why she declined to participate on “Titanic” in a Wall Street Journal interview:
“I was sent a script and they were actually working with some of my music as they were filming. James Cameron, he approached and sent the script, but what happened was when we were talking about the end song, it was to be a collaboration and that’s something that I’ve actually never done. I’ve felt, I get to write the song, I sing. I’ve always written the melodies so I find it kind of strange and I was working on an album, so I just said it wasn’t going to happen if it was a collaboration.”
Reading this confirms what we already know about Enya; she does her own thing. It doesn’t matter if you are an A-list Hollywood director, making something that is bound to become a mega blockbuster. She will dictate the terms of agreement. Few other artists, if any at all, would do that.
No “My Heart Will Go On”
It is also funny to think that if Enya had been like any other artist out there, more willing to make compromises and following direction, there would have been no “My Heart Will Go On”. Perhaps Enya would have made something worthy of an Oscar and record CD sales? We will never know. But Enya too did get her movie smash hit in the end (from the above WSJ interview):
“[…] But, then with “Lord of the Rings”, the final song, there was no collaboration with Howard Shore on the final song, written by myself, Nicky and Roma, Collaboration is not [something] that I’ve really felt I’ve missed out on. I suppose because I’ve worked so closely with two other people, I feel like we get a sense of that all of the time in the studio.”
So the story ends well after all.