Remembering Eva

I love music.   Not all music but a lot of it.  Being 76 years old, having lived through years of fads and new genres, gives me a lot of music to choose from, which is good because finding new music (not necessarily new to the world but new to me) has always been a a source of joy.  For me, perhaps the best time for finding new music was in the heyday of Border’s book stores.  Above the rows and rows of CDs were listening stations with headphones that allowed you to listen to new releases.  One of the most amazing Borders finds ever was Songbird by Eva Cassidy.   When I put on the headphones and fast forwarded through the tracks, what I heard was: a crystalline voice that brought a unique style to well known songs; as simple but beautiful guitar accompaniment; and a songs from every musical genre.  I also heard a lovely and poignant version of my mother’s favorite song, Autumn Leaves.

That was 1999.   I soon learned that Eva Cassidy had been dead for three years at the time of my discovery.   She was virtually unknown outside of Washington, DC when melanoma took her life at 33.   Songbird was assembled from her three previous (financially unsuccessful) recordings, but it languished in relative obscurity until 2000, when (according to Wikipedia) BBC’s Top of the Pops 2 aired a video of Cassidy performing Over the Rainbow, which resulted in Songbird climbing steadily up the UK charts over the next few week.  It reached number one in the UK and was eventually certified six times platinum in Europe.  In May 2001, ABC’s Nightline in the US broadcast a well-received short documentary about Cassidy, a labor of love from Nightline correspondent Dave Marash who was a fan of her music.  Over the weekend, all five of Cassidy’s albums occupied‘s best sellers list top spots.  Hers is perhaps the most successful posthumous careers in American Pop music.

I bring Eva up because Songbird turned up on my music player while I was walking this week.   It was like hearing her for the first time again.  I went home and downloaded The Best of Eva Cassidy from Amazon, which included 22 of her songs.   It is a simply remarkable collection, one that makes it very hard to pick a favorite to share.    But I like this one, Kathy’s Song, a Simon and Garfunkel tune from their album, Bridge Over Troubled Water.   Beautiful melody, great lyrics …

And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you

And what a voice.   Enjoy.

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