Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Vale Eva Cassidy

Eva Cassidy

Most people can remember the first time something significant happened in their lives - your first kiss, your first concert, your first car. Occasionally people even remember the first time they heard a person sing or a band they particularly love and they remember the emotion and the impact it had on them. Eva Cassidy is one of those artists that has such a massive emotional impact on people the first time they hear her sing that it is rarely forgotten.

...although it wasn't for me. I heard a piece of hers on a recording of the late night ABC music program Rage in the late 1990s. She sang a solo, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar version of "Over The Rainbow". I was unmoved at the time. I thought it was pleasant enough, but not enough to stop me fast-forwarding through the clip.

A few years later (circa 2003), I had occasion to come across a CD by Eva, called "Songbird". I found it in my mother-in-law's collection and I thought it was an odd CD for her to own, given Eva's stature in the indie/alternative music world. I borrowed it and listened...

Context is everything and nothing all at once. I can still remember where I was, what I was doing, what the weather was like, what car I was driving, and what I had to do after I first put that "Songbird" CD in the Cd player in my car and heard her version of Sting's "Fields of Gold". The wave of emotions that I had contained during that turbulent period of my life came flooding out. I had to pull the car over to the side of the road and weep. The impact was cataclysmic. The emotional reaction I had was so strong that I couldn't contain it. I became a fan of Eva Cassidy that very day.

To this day I can't listen to Sting's version of "Fields of Gold". Yeah ok, he wrote it. But his recording feels like a publishing demo next to Eva's pure, siren-like delivery.

Eva's story is a sad one. She was a struggling independent musician, capable of performing many varied genres who never saw the success she clearly deserved in her lifetime. She died too young (age 33) of Melanoma, before the world at large had a chance to appreciate her beautiful music. Her music causes such a powerful emotional response from listeners that everyone who hears it for the first time can remember that profound experience.

Although my first time wasn't memorable, the second time was. The anniversary of Eva's passing occurs next week. I'm getting in early by sharing this with you: her sublime version of "Fields of Gold".

Vale, Eva.

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