“For you, there’ll be no crying
For you, the sun will be shining.”
Eva Cassidy, Songbird
Not entirely sure how my day evolved from one of extreme productivity and socializing into sitting at my desk in a stuffy apartment with overheated cats binge listening to Eva Cassidy, but, here we are.
She’s pretty amazing, though at first the recorded setting felt somewhat dated to my overtuned ears. Then I became adjusted, found the performance embedded in the first blush, and was subsequently taken by her unique precision and flawless transitions and exquisite tonality. Live footage memorized further. Her legend is the stuff of a blessed and tragic life, as they so often are.
I went in looking for “Songbird,”
an all-time favorite from the luscious throat of Christine McVie. Her rendition is pure, and I never ever tire of these words, they will always sound like home to me for reasons I don’t dare pinpoint. From there, I wound up finding her “Fields of Gold” cover – a song I had not heard in ages that brought me back to times pre-dating that. Times of dancing in basements in old costumes and party dresses, my cousins and I playing choreographer and artistic director and corps performers. Then I knew this was a pretty song – most everyone does, one could easily argue it is the only true valid post-Police contribution Sting made to modern music. Then I saw a pretty scene of fields and words my mother sang. Now, so much older and lived, I hear it as much more of a sad song, maybe due in large part to Cassidy’s sincere, sustained delivery. Some research (or, um, Wikipedia) tells me this cover was one of two that sparked her success with British audiences that had her album charting posthumously.
“I never made promises lightly,
And there have been some that I’ve broken.
But I swear in the days still left,
We’ll walk in fields of gold.”
~Fields of Gold
Eva Cassidy, Songbird
The other song was her “Over the Rainbow” rendition. This is the live one I couldn’t stop watching. This song, the Tori Amos version
, was the most important contemporary solo I ever danced. I don’t think I ever placed higher than third in bad local competitions. My rehearsal slot was Thursday nights after the group, winding up at home by 9:30 or 10 or so. Jess screamed at me and my sickled feet, chided me for mouthing the words even though I had no idea that was a habit, and changed up the attitude turns when I couldn’t get the timing right and wound up overstepping before the next sequence. Not everyone gets a Tori solo, I knew, and I couldn’t mess it up. Years later, Jess would joke to me: “Yeah, and that was a cover.”
Cassidy’s version is nothing like Tori’s (guitar, not piano, for starters) but it is stunning in its own right. Her fingers are patient and her choices on when and where to change up the melody, weave in trills and pluck a few extra strings are unique and unexpected and altogether beautiful. Timeless in every way. This one she performed at Georgetown’s Blues Alley, a place I once visited with intense adoration and disguised wide-eyed glee:
“Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me”
~Over the Rainbow
Eva Cassidy, Blues Alley Supper Club, 1-3-96
I am grateful to have found these songs tonight. Perhaps I am sentimental of the highest possible order. Perhaps I am more than a little nostalgic and in awe of the moments that come and go with such meaning while we, so caught up, are none the wiser they are happening to us. Maybe I am just a little melancholy, no surprise there. But how interesting,to hear these three perfect songs that incite so many memories and feelings in a new way, a never before way, an of-the-moment way that leaves me grateful for the present and its joys and sorrows, and ever-moving toward those to come – because if all we know can someday, somehow, in some way sound new again, then aren’t we so lucky, to know what there is to look forward to.