Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Eva Cassidy territory

One of the more intriguing aspects of Sydney Australia
for all its positives and negatives
twos & fros
is that this sprawling city is permeated by multiple ‘feels’
more than any other city I’ve been to
it’s remarkably heterogenous
suburbs apart can feel like totally separate places
you don’t have to go far for it to feel ‘different’ to where you were 5 minutes ago
as an example…
the northern beaches
(including ‘Avalon’ for any Church / Heyday fans reading)
feel…well, not so much sub-tropical
as merely fitting into the warm temperate zone
these beaches, stretching from manly to palm beach
hunger for summer
and for surfboards
the topend of the ‘eastern suburbs’ beaches
ie bondi bronte clovelly & coogee
have their own temperate eastern seaboard feel
where bondi in all her jewel-like allure
remains Queen of the bays
yet south of coogee something happens
the next beach down, maroubra, suddenly vibes differently
it feels vaster, more southern ocean, cooler
and this is how the beaches feel from maroubra down
all the way through the south coast of nsw
that ‘feel’ is instantly recognisable to me
it’s recognisable in the music of Eva Cassidy
therefore I call a series of places south of Maroubra…
‘Eva Cassidy territory’

Sydney sits right in that crossover temperate zone
downtown is at 33°54’ south of the equator
yet the lower end of the greater city reaches to 34°
so sydney’s in that bit that’s not sure if it’s warm temperate or mild temperate
Cronulla beach in the southern suburbs
particularly at night
represents Eva Cassidy territory at its peak
so what is Eva Cassidy territory?
it’s where her music resonates to me in natural setting
palpably and viscerally
and its always at the sea – particularly south of Coogee onward
when I’m driving down brighton boulevard
along botany bay
at night
i start to hear it

in brain & being
wade in the water wade in the water
and as I hit Cronulla particularly on a cold winter night
and the moon lights the surf as it crashes to the bay
my head
and heart
are deafened by the music
i am a poor wayfaring stranger
while journeying through this world of woe

Eva herself lived in Maryland
on USA’s eastern seaboard
which is an equivalent to nsw south coast
she loved nature
and she loved the sea
her music transmutes this love to the listener
and it reflects back through that love
through nature
particularly through the sea

I first came across Eva Cassidy in april 2001
i read a 2-page spread about her in the weekend sydney morning herald
what was written about her instantly appealed to me
shy… non-projective
remarkably a singer who was able to move all sorts of people to tears
and who died of melanoma at the age of 33
in 1996
i don’t usually go for ‘singers’ as such
but the article read like a female version of nick drake
so I go to the CD shop
and purchased Eva by Heart & Live at Blues Alley
go home
listen to Eva by Heart
hmm I thought, a bit MOR perhaps
but I was intrigued….
another listen
some mood there that I really like
3rd listen on
I was hooked
big-time
by 2004
having collected all her posthumous releases
I was interested to play her music on the guitar
as she was a wonderful acoustic guitarist
…one of my very favourites actually…
in june 2004 I meet Brigette
and we do many of eva’s songs together
goddamn brig even resembles eva Cassidy
and she’s my dearest friend (one of)
some of those gigs I’ve done with Brigette
doing wayfaring stranger for eg
with the sound of my rock maple acoustic (now sold)
ringing through the p/a
were musical heaven
absolute musical heaven…
and in this ecstacy I was daunted
I felt I was channelling the spirit of eva
in songs such as wayfaring and over the rainbow
I felt her presence within me
but not to be personal as such
the vastness that she was
captured and expressed in this body
through sublime musical moments

Eva Cassidy passed away in 1996
1996 was a big year for me
a turning point as it were
there was much growth and opportunity available
8 jan 1996 I start a jobb at drama school
where i contentedly act the role to this day
march ‘96
paul keating’s federal labour government gets voted out
by a nation of toads
and toad-worshippers
on 8 july 1996 I took my first night trip to Cronulla
I won’t say who I was with
but on the bay there overlooking the sea
…I had a transcendental realisation
I was wondering what the perfect life would or could be
and something swept over me as I looked around and behind me
at the apartments
at the moonlit bay
the sea
the surf
the moon Herself
a sensation of ecstasy filled me
there were no thoughts
but energetic passion, a yearning and fulfilment
of what my life could be
potential perfectualised in spirit and body
next day I noticed something had clicked
the air sniffed differently
in hindsight I felt that the ballgame had shifted
that god picked me up in his big hand and moved me from the periphery
to the centre of the ballgame
suddenly
many circumstances criss-crossed
all of a sudden there were stark choices
I always felt I took the wrong one(s)
and that the years after were about staving off the after-effects
by November 1996 I was entrenched
eva Cassidy became noticeably sick in july 1996
and passed from her belovedness
her beautiful body and her Angelic gift
given to her by the almighty Love
on November 1996
…I’m not claiming much other than coincidence here
yet we are all connected
and connection is uniVersal
I have an affinity with eva
eva is loved primarily because of her singing
and with that her arrangements and guitar playing etc…
morever
it’s the energy behind the singing that matters much
eva was no fairy
there was an earthiness to her
an opaqueness
a vastness without words
she speaks to us of the beauty of the natural
the real earth
in her perfect music
in her personal life for example
eva worked in a nursery and drove the tractor
she often wore shorts and mens work shirts
she was physically attractive and possessed an earthy sensitive sophistication about her
and had blue dophin eyes that glistened like sunlit oceans
Eva was an immensely private person
she loved riding her bicycle through the woods on sundays
Chris Biondo was her boyfriend for a while
equally important he was a great supporter of her music
Chris was a studio-owner and producer
and a fine bass player
whose bass playing and producing
found its home comfortably in most of eva’s recorded work
eva’s recordings all sound sophisticated
and they are all well performed both by herself and band
yet because they were essentially private recordings
they don’t have that slick production value that can negate great musicmaking
so when you listen to eva
you listen to real music
absolutely true music
for eva was also an astoundingly gifted interpreter of song
the “covers” she sang and recorded sound like her own originals
gordon sumner’s fields of gold for example
over the rainbow
wade in the water & wayfaring stranger
songbird…
eva had some record company interest during her lifetime
yet the record co’s wanted her to stick to one genre
eva could sing anything
and she wanted to keep doing what she wanted to do
fame and ambition didn’t interest her in anyway whatsoever
we
are left with a rich and varied soundtrack by a fine artist and being
Eva Cassidy is one of my great heroes
possibly my one true intrinsic hero, or heroine
I love her very much

Eva Cassidy (1963-1996)
We love you
God bless you

Ross B

3 comments:

pam said...

What a sweet and touching post!

By the way, take a look at the "What's New?" portion of the
www.evacassidy.org website
maintained by her cousin, the July 1st post (today's) in particular.

ross b said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I do mean every word I say. Some of the beaches particularly at the south end of Sydney resonate strongly with Eva Cassidy's music. I'm a pisces, so I pick these things up! ;)
I checked today's post (2nd July) and am pleased to read a new album will be available soon!!

Kind regards, Ross

Anonymous said...

It's just beautiful, absolutely love it. Eva was, and is, such a remarkable person, because even though she's gone she's left such a legacy. I will never fathom the depth of her voice, a voice that I truly believe can cure illnesses, especially those of the heart and soul...

Knitting Songbird

Al-Anon

enjoying a bevvy Awakening to the ‘good’ in our lives and to the fulfilling sense of gratitude which follows often comes to us via ...