Eva Cassidy: “Time After Time”

Singer Eva Cassidy was born in Washington, D.C. on February 2, 1963. She began singing at an early age, and eventually garnered attention in her hometown.

Many came to admire her jazz and blues work.  But during Cassidy’s lifetime, her fame was largely limited to the DC area. While she was singing, she also worked at Behnke Nursery in Maryland doing greenhouse work between 1981 and 1995. In 1992, she released an album of duets with Chuck Brown, The Other Side. But on November 2, 1996, at the age of 33, Cassidy died from melanoma.

Several months before she died, she released a live album, Live at Blues Alley. The album provided Cassidy with more fans, and it began to receive wider attention after her death. Additional posthumous albums added to Cassidy’s legacy. Artists such as Paul McCartney became fans, and a 2001 Nightline episode about Cassidy became one of the most popular segments ever on the show.

Today, through the wonders of the Internet, many more music fans are familiar with Cassidy’s beautiful voice. Unfortunately, she never knew how much she would be appreciated. But fortunately for us, we have her music, as well as some camcorder video from a performance at Blues Alley in D.C. Check out Eva Cassidy singing Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.”

What is your favorite Eva Cassidy recording? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    What is that song in “A Ghost Story”?

    I finally got around to watching A Ghost Story (2017), an interesting and somewhat unusual film about loss, love, death, and time.  The movie also features a beautiful song that plays a prominent role.  Upon hearing the song, I had to track it down.

    First, a few comments about the movie.  Without going into an extensive review, I found it fascinating.  As others have noted, it is a little slow, but if you are in the right mood and patient, you might get a lot out of A Ghost Story.  I found myself slowly getting sucked into where the movie had a big emotional impact.

    A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck (as “C”) and Rooney Mara (as “M”) portraying a young couple living in a house when Affleck’s character is killed.  Without giving too much away, Affleck sort of rises from the dead as a ghost, returning to the house to haunt the house through time.  While one might expect the film to feature Affleck’s ghost interacting with his lover throughout the rest of the movie, the movie travels further through time, both forwards and backwards.

    Director David Lowery made an interesting choice to have Affleck portray the ghost underneath a sheet with two eyes.  Or so it appears at first, because the costume designed by Annell Brodeur is actually more complex.  But it is a simple, recognizable ghost image without distracting special effects, serving the simplicity of the story.

    There is little dialogue in A Ghost Story, as the ghost never makes any verbal sounds.  So, much of the movie plays like a silent film.  Again, some may find it boring, but if you are willing to invest in the movie, you might find it captivating.

    “I Get Overwhelmed”

    The movie also features a song that C plays for M when they are together.  And M later listens to the song after C has died.  Like the film, the song captivates you in a hypnotizing way.  The song is “I Get Overwhelmed” by Dark Rooms.

    Is your lover there?
    Is she wakin’ up?
    Did she die in the night?
    And leave you alone?

    Dark Rooms features Daniel Hart, a performer and composer from Dallas, Texas. Hart has created music for other films and TV too. Dark Rooms’ first album, which includes “I Get Overwhelmed” from A Ghost Story, is Distraction Sickness, released in September 2017. The band is working on another album in Los Angeles.

    Distraction Sickness is available from Dark Rooms’ Bandcamp website and at Amazon. A Ghost Story is now streaming on Amazon Prime. If you have already seen the movie and wonder how the song lyrics might play a bigger role in the movie, check out this discussion, which includes spoilers.

    What did you think of A Ghost Story? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Warren Zevon: The Wind

    Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon was born in Chicago on January 24, 1947. He was one-of-a kind, and could blend his dark humor, important themes, and music better than anyone else before or since.

    Throughout his career, he crossed paths with other legends in various ways. While he was starting out in the early 1970s, he toured with the Everly Brothers as a piano player and music coordinator. In the mid-1970s, he lived with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. And in 1976 Jackson Browne produced Zevon’s major-label debut album, entitled Warren Zevon.

    He continued to connect with other talented and legendary musicians and artists throughout his career. Later in his career, he became a regular guest and substitute bandleader on Late Show with David Letterman.

    His debut album included classics such as “Carmelita” and “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.” While he never received the success he deserved, he continued to record wonderful songs such as “Lawyers, Guns and Money” and “Werewolves of London.”

    Some of his most memorable work came on his final album, The Wind. Zevon created the album after doctors had diagnosed him with pleural mesothelioma. Zevon knew the cancer was killing him, but he wanted to create one last work of art. A number of musicians who admired Zevon’s work came to the studio to help out. Guests included Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam, Billy Bob Thornton, Emmylou Harris, and Tom Petty.

    The following documentary recounts the making of The Wind. The album was released on August 26, 2003. Zevon died at his home in Los Angeles on September 7, 2003 at the age of 56.

    The Wind, which featured songs such as “Keep Me In Your Heart,” went gold and won two Grammys.

    What is your favorite Warren Zevon song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    When Cotton Gets Rotten

    One ridiculous aspect about comments made by President Donald Trump regarding his preference for immigrants from Norway over immigrants from Haiti and some other African nations is the debate about his language.  Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Senator David Perdue of Georgia, who attended the Oval Office meeting, defend the president by using a bit of linguistic legerdemain.

    While reliable sources confirm that Trump referred to Haiti and other countries as “shithole countries,” Trump’s allies have raised an interesting defense.  Cotton and Perdue supported Trump by denying the president said the word.  But apparently the basis for their defense is that Trump actually said “shithouse countries.”

    Others may debate whether it is more or less racist to have used one term over the other.  But it is clear that politics is at a low level when you have elected Senators even making such an argument to suck up to this president.

    The incident, however, probably is not a new low for politics.  Just considering Cotton’s record, one sees a man whose loyalty to ideology often trumps traditional notions of national service.  For example, during his first year in the Senate in 2015, Cotton organized other Senators to undermine President Barack Obama’s nuclear negotiations with Iran through a letter to the government of a foreign country.

    Cotton also worked to prevent the confirmation of a highly qualified African-American woman to be the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas because she was friends with President Obama.  The nominee, Cassandra Butts, had a distinguished career when she was nominated for a position that needed to be filled.

    After a hearing about Butts’s nomination in May 2014, Cotton put a hold on her confirmation.  He later told her that he was doing it because he knew she had been friends with President Obama since law school.  And he wanted to hurt the president.  Butts spent the last 835 days of her life waiting for the confirmation before she died of acute leukemia.

    “Cotton Fields”

    For something nicer, when I think of rotten cotton, I go back to the classic song “Cotton Fields.”

    Oh, when them cotton bolls get rotten,
    You can’t pick very much cotton
    In them old cotton fields back home.

    Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, wrote “Cotton Fields.” He recorded it in 1940.

    A number of famous artists have covered the song, including Odetta, Harry Belafonte, the Beach Boys, and Johnny Cash. But my favorite cover version is the one by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

    The CCR version is the one I grew up listening to.  It appeared on their 1969 album Willy and the Poor Boys.

    “Cotton Fields” is a wonderful song that people still enjoy more than seventy-five years after it was first recorded. By contrast, seventy-five years from now, nobody will probably remember how a man named Cotton tried to ingratiate himself to a president based on a distinction between “shithole” and “shithouse.”

    Photo of cotton fields via Creative Commons and Kimberly Vardeman. What is your favorite version of “Cotton Fields”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Song of the Day: “Rock Salt and Nails” Sung by Tyler Childers

    Chimesfreedom previously wrote about Tyler Childers’ wonderful voice on his excellent debut album Purgatory (2017).  The Kentucky native is not only an outstanding songwriter, he is great at interpreting songs too.  And his interpretation skills show in his take on “Rock Salt and Nails,” which was written by Utah Phillips.

    As we noted in a previous post, the Phillips classic is a song about heartache and pain.  Then, it adds a touch of anger with the reference to filling a shotgun with rock salt and nails.

    “Rock Salt and Nails” has been covered by a number of artists, such as Joan Baez, Waylon Jennings, Bob Dylan, Steve Young, and Buddy and Julie Miller.  The version by Tyler Childers is a worthy interpretation that stands with the best.  And it is one of my new favorite covers.  Check it out.

    What is your favorite Tyler Childers song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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