A ‘new’ version of ‘Blue Skies’ by Eva Cassidy

Out of the blue a new version of ‘Blue Skies’ by Eva Cassidy appeared. The song could be heard earlier on the album Live at Blues Alley (1996) and later on the extended digitally polished ‘Live at Blues Alley’ edition Nightbird (2015). With this song Eva proved that she could sing jazz alongside all other genres she mastered. The recently released version was recorded at the King of France Tavern at the Maryland Inn in Annapolis a few months earlier (November 1995). Eva Cassidy was accompanied that night by guitarist Keith Grimes, bass player Chris Biondo (who made the recordings on a DAT recorder) and violinist Bruno Nasta.

Chris Biondo and Eva Cassidy

Chris Biondo and Eva Cassidy

In these Maryland Inn-sessions Eva sang more freely than on the Nightbird-recording, probably because she didn’t have to sing over the drums (the space was too small for a drum kit). A good example of ‘less is more’. Striking is the role of the groovy playing Biondo who gives Eva’s voice an extra push into the direction of real swing style. During this concert Chris Biondo also made the recordings of ‘Time After Time’ that ended up on the album of that name in 2002.

Maryland Inn, Annapolis

Maryland Inn, Annapolis

Eva loved to play at the small, homely and intimate Maryland Inn. It was built in 1772 on Drummer’s Lot where the town drummer would cry the daily news. The rules of the old inn are still prominently displayed, “No thieves, fakirs, rogues or tinkers. No skulking loafers or flea-bitten tramps. No slap an’ tickle o’ the wenches. No banging o’ tankards on the tables. No dogs allowed in the kitchen, no cockfighting. Flintlocks, cudgels, daggers and swords to be handed to the innkeeper for safe-keeping. Bed for the night 1 shilling. Stabling for the horse 4 pence.” Eva liked to play there because the audience really listened to her.

King of France Tavern

King of France Tavern

‘Blue Skies’ was written by Irving Berlin in 1926. The song was composed as a last-minute addition to the Rodgers and Hart musical Betsy. ‘Blue Skies’ was an instant succes. It was recorded many times: The Knickerbockers with vocals by Charles Kaley made it a hit, Al Jolson performed it in The Jazz Singer, Benny Goodman and his Orchestra, Count Basie, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in the film White Christmas. Willie Nelson’s ‘Blue Skies’ was a number one country music hit in 1978. Thelonious Monk’s 1947 composition ‘In Walked Bud’ is based on the chord changes to ‘Blue Skies.’ The song was featured in the film Star Trek several times. All these artists made Blue Skies a major western swing and country standard. The lyrics ‘bluebird of happiness’ are a symbol of cheer: ‘Bluebirds singing a song—Nothing but bluebirds all day long.’ The sunny optimism of the lyrics are undercut by the minor key giving the words an ironic feeling.

Blue Skies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgFspTEIUGo

 

2 responses to “A ‘new’ version of ‘Blue Skies’ by Eva Cassidy”

  1. Gene Johnson says:

    Just listened to this version of this song by the very special Eva. It is special as well. Hope there are more hidden gems locked away. Her music is just the best. We played Over The Rainbow at my father’s service to celebrate his life. The funeral people played it around 3 times. . Its very special to me and others that were there.

  2. Peter Eyles says:

    There are simply not enough superlatives to describe the beautiful music of Eva Cassidy!
    Her voice and vocal range were incredible and she was never driven by money which in itself made Eva a very special lady!
    Miss her badly!🎤🎸🎼🎵😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢

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