Eva Cassidy: Somewhere, still amazing.

It’s no secret that I love music. I have probably the most varied, if not eclectic, tastes in music. There’s more I like than I don’t like. And it seems that every day my eyes are opened to new artists making amazing new music.

But none have captured my heart in recent years like Eva Cassidy.

I was introduced to Eva Cassidy in 2000 by my former roommate. I was working at my computer and he was playing a CD that I had never heard before. I asked him who it was, and he told me about Eva Cassidy- a singer from the DC/Maryland area who died in 1996 of complications from Melanoma, and never enjoyed commercial success while she was alive. She performed mainly covers, but made them her own. And with that, he played her versions of “Over the Rainbow” and Sting’s “Fields of Gold” for me. I had never heard the songs interpreted so emotionally and beautifully. Between her story and her singing, I was hooked.

This was, of course, at the time when Napster was in its earliest incarnation– before the legislation that shut it down and made such downloading illegal. I promptly sat myself down and found as much of her music as I could, and in a few hours I had amassed a fairly large Eva library. I had to hear more of this chanteuse that had just touched my heart.

The more I learned about her, the more I became a fan. And as the years went on, the releases of new music kept coming. Eventually I replaced my “illegal” music with “legit” versions:  The Other Side (1992), an album she recorded with fellow local musician Chuck Brown; Live in Blues Alley (1996), which was released before her death; Eva By Heart (1997), the only true studio album she ever recorded; Songbird (1998), the compilation album (with some new material) that propelled Eva into the limelight around the world; Time After Time (2000), a second album of all-new material; Imagine (2002), featuring even more new material; and American Tune (2003), which was the last album of new material for five years.  After American Tune, another compilation album, Wonderful World (2004) was released, and it seemed the well had finally run dry.

Last week while browsing around iTunes, I happened to type in Eva Cassidy’s name. I surprised to find that she had another new album coming out, and that I hadn’t heard about it yet. I clicked on “Somewhere,” which was available as a pre-order and saw it was coming out in TWO days. I could hardly believe my good luck, and instantly purchased it. I downloaded it as soon as it was available, and I’m happy to report that the well has definitely not run dry.  “Somewhere,” the title tune, was co-authored by Eva Cassidy herself– one of two titles where she contributed lyrics.  This is the first time that Eva fans have been given the opportunity to see what really could have been, had she lived.  

It was somewhat melancholy to hear the song, which is quite powerful.  I only hope it can be the song that finally propells her into stardom in the US.  She’s had incredible success in the UK and in other countries, but in the US we just haven’t “got it” yet.  So I’m doing my part here, today, and encouraging you to experience her music for yourself.  Then tell your friends and get them to listen.

70

70.

Not a very special number when you really think about it.

But it does hold some interesting significance in history.

For instance, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told Peter to forgive people “Seventy times seven times.” I know this may not be a big deal, but it may help explain why the number seven has, for centuries, been considered a “lucky number.”

70 MPH is the common maximum speed limit for most American freeways. Except, of course, those in Illinois and Wisconsin. But I digress.

I was born in 1970. For me, this is especially significant.

And today, January 7, 2008, marks the day my father was born.

70 years ago.

It’s hard to believe he would have been 70. SEVENTY. That sounds so much older than it probably really is. But it really is rather old.

It seems like only yesterday that he turned 40. I remember it quite well. We had a big party and made a huge cake, and I can’t be 100% sure (or even 70% sure), but I think it was the first time we used those number-candles on a birthday cake. The number seemed so huge to me — 40. Of course, I’m only three years away from being 40 myself. Which makes me… 37. Again, that pesky 7 shows up.

Maybe Dad was lucky he didn’t live to see his 70th birthday. He was living a miserable life toward the end, so I can’t imagine it would have gotten much better in two more years.

Of course, that doesn’t make me miss him any less. And it doesn’t help my heart, which hurts when I think I can’t call him to wish him a “Happy Birthday” or buy him another bottle of “Smelly Stuff” for his bathroom cabinet.

But I do think he’s in a much better place now. And wherever he is, he’s looking down on us and smiling. He’s smiling because he has two granddaughters on the way. He’s smiling because we’re all healthy and living our lives the best way we know how. And he’s smiling because he’s no longer in pain.

So, Dad, wherever you are– above the clouds, or over the rainbow–

Happy Birthday.

Love, your champ.