Für Hildegard von Bingen

Album: Mala (2013)
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Songfacts®:

  • This brooding, electro-spliced tune finds Banhart musing over the German-born, 12th century abbess, mystic and composer Saint Hildegard von Bingen. The Venezuela-reared singer-songwriter celebrates not only her musical output but also her significance as a healer involving the application of tinctures, herbs, and precious stones and as a female rhetorician, transcending bans on women's social participation and interpretation of Scripture. Banhart explained to Spin magazine: "She's a fabulous composer but also she's a medieval feminist, when there weren't that many feminists around. For somebody to have the strength to say, 'Yes we are equal, and also, I'm a composer, a pedagogue, a herbalist.' These are revolutionary things even today, but imagine then. She's certainly somebody that deserves celebration, so this is a song for her."
  • In the song, Banhart casts a contemporary life for Hildegard by allowing her to escape the monastic lifestyle and arriving in the present day as a video jockey on television. "In my head there was this little movie, an alternative universe, I guess," he said, "Hildegard is sequestered in her cloister, and one day she gets a VHS cassette and it's the prime era of the MTV VJ, and she just goes wild. 'That's it for me,' she says. 'That's how I'm going to get my message across.' So she escapes the cloister... and becomes a VJ."

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