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Annie Lennox reveals environmental meaning behind ‘forgotten’ track

Annie Lennox (Ian West/PA)
Annie Lennox (Ian West/PA)

Annie Lennox has warned the world is on “the precipice of oblivion” and humanity must act quickly to even slow the onset of climate change.

The Scottish singer and activist, 65, has released a recording of Henry Purcell’s Dido’s Lament, which she says is for “the dying of our planet”.

The track, a 17th century aria about the tragic love story of Dido and Aeneas from The Aeneid, was recorded a decade ago during sessions for her album, A Christmas Cornucopia.

(Island/PA)

It is being released as part of a 10th anniversary edition of the record.

Lennox said president-elect Joe Biden’s success in the US election was a relief with regards to climate change, but she feared it was too late for him to make a difference.

Mr Biden has pledged to rejoin the Paris Agreement, the international pact designed to avoid global warming, after Donald Trump announced the US’s exit in 2017.

Former Eurythmics star Lennox told the PA news agency: “I have applied a certain interpretation to it now. I realise that Dido’s Lament in its pure form is part of an opera. It’s an aria and Dido herself is about to commit suicide. She has intention to die.

“This was a recording that I had totally forgotten about. It is so funny how things just comes about.

“Mike (Stevens) was looking through all his past recordings. He was sorting it out. He came across Dido’s Lament and listened to it and called me up. He said, ‘This is amazing, we have to do something with this. Maybe we could put it on an album?’

“And then I thought, ‘What is the connection, actually?’ If you are playing all these songs which are carols, what is the connection there? And then it hit me that it is a lament for the world.

“It is a lament for the dying of our planet. If you interpret it that way it has this most profound meaning. It was like, ‘That is what I am singing about, that we are on the precipice of oblivion’. I hate to say it but I must say it because the only thing we have left is to slow it down.”

Lennox, who lives in California, said global warning was “hitting everybody hard” in the state, referring to the number of wildfires this summer.

She expressed caution over voicing her political opinions about the US election result in the current climate, but admitted to feeling relieved Mr Biden had won.

She said: “For me, and this is personal, it is dangerous water going into politics nowadays, because if you express your feeling there is always another opposite view which will come back at you with very hard opinions. I understand that. I appreciate that.

US Election 2020
Joe Biden (Niall Carson/PA)

“For me it is a huge relief that Biden has won as opposed to Trump. For half the country it is a massive relief.

“However, these are really vulnerable times, and with the stoked-up animosity that has risen up. It’s been there under the surface apparently. Now they have been given permission to express their bigotry, their hatred, their racism, their willingness for really extraordinary behaviour.”

Asked whether she feared it was too late to repair the damage done to the environment, she said: “I am afraid it might well be. We have come to that point.

“I think Biden and Kamala Harris have inherited a terribly difficult task right now. Now this is a toxic situation. Very, very delicate and there is layer upon layer upon layer of challenge, and it is compounded by coronavirus.”

A Christmas Cornucopia was recorded by Lennox and co-producer Mike Stevens in his south-west London studio at the bottom of his garden in 2010.

They later worked with a 30-piece orchestra at Pinewood Studios and travelled to South Africa to record with the African Children’s Choir.

The album also features the original composition Universal Child, and all proceeds from the track will be paid to the Annie Lennox Foundation.

A Christmas Cornucopia is out now.

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