My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song . . . ”
“That was one of the first songs we played with the band,” Chris Biondo recalls. “We tried to record it for THE OTHER SIDE, but it didn’t work as a duet, the two of them singing it back and forth didn’t sound good.” It didn’t quite work as a solo number with the band, either. Their arrangement was a distillation of the full Etta James version into a small group format, and Biondo admits, “There were so many chord changes, so much potential to make mistakes, we finally just started leaving it off the set list. I wasn’t sorry to see that one go.”
“Gonna start off with an old Etta James song,” Eva tells the audience, adjusting the cord that attaches her guitar to the amp. “She has a really good book out about her life, you should read it, it’s juicy!” Laughter from the audience. She plays a tentative chord, pushes up her sleeves, brushes her hair out of her face, and sings.
(from the article “Live at Blues Alley — You Are There” )
Instead, Eva worked up her own solo guitar arrangement of the song. Guitarist Keith Grimes comments, “Rather than using the Etta James arrangement, she just did a very stark, simple arrangement where she lopped off the introduction, she was substituting chords, which is something people do a lot of times to make things sound fancier, but she was taking a reductive approach. It worked out well.” Grimes adds, “Eva was a big Etta James fan. With the band, she also did a barn-burning Etta James tune called ‘Something’s Got a Hold On Me.'(See the yellow box, with Eva’s introduction to that “barn-burning” song the night the live album was recorded at Blues Alley.)
Eva recorded “At Last” very informally at Chris Biondo’s studio, either for self-critiquing or as a demo to send to club owners. That solo studio version is heard on the album TIME AFTER TIME.
Eva’s guitar arrangement of “At Last” is one of the songs featured in The Eva Cassidy Songbook for Guitar, published by Warner/Chappell Music in October of 2002.
“Oh yeah, you smiled
Oh, then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
For you are mine at last
For you are mine at last….”
Copyright 2002 – Laura Claire Bligh. Thanks as always to the members of the Eva Cassidy Band for helping me with this series of articles about Eva’s recordings.