Merrill, London, and Cassidy

by Jess

It’s music time, boys and girls.  Get your ears ready.

My current obsession all started yesterday when I heard Helen Merrill’s sultry version of “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” on the radio, which prompted a YouTube search for more of her stuff, and which led in turn to the discovery of Julie London.  She does a version of the same song that could make you fall in love on the spot, and maybe others have done “Boy from Ipanema” better, but I heard it first from London, so she wins the game.  Her rendition of the melancholy tune “Black Coffee” makes me wish I owned a record player.  It goes like this:

I’m feelin’ mighty lonesome
Haven’t slept a wink
I walk the floor
And watch the door
And in between I drink
Black coffee
Love’s a hand-me-down brew
I’ll never know a Sunday
In this weekday room

I’m talking to the shadows
Of one o’clock before
And Lord how slow the months ago
When all I do is pour
Black coffee
Since the blues caught my eye
I’m hanging out on the move
My Sunday dreams to dry

We’re talking basic old school bluesy crooning, and a lot of these same songs have been done by every gal in the biz (from Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James to Christina Aguilera and Beyonce, et al), but each woman’s voice brings different tones and emotions to the music.  I love the warm brown-sugary voices the best.

Today I hit the payload with Eva Cassidy.  Thanks, Matt, for the name drop.  Seriously, I know you’re on the Internet, so open a new tab and YouTube Eva Cassidy.  Her “Autumn Leaves” and “Over the Rainbow” live at Blues Alley are simply jaw-dropping.  She can hold a note out so clear and crisp and sad, layered over the lovely finger-picked chords of her guitar.  She’s from the DC area and apparently was virtually unknown outside of the region when she died of melanoma in 1996 at the age of 33; by 2005, though, when Amazon.com released a list of its top 25 best-selling musicians, she came in at No. 5 behind The Beatles, U2, Norah Jones, and Diana Krall.  According to Wikipedia and a cryptic reference on IMDB, there’s a movie about her life in production.  For now, we’ve got her music.  Go listen.

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