Monday, September 19, 2016

Girl Singer

So she would have been 75 today. How one wishes she were...

If you're looking for a treat, or just need a little beauty, head out onto the YouTubes and spend some time listening to Cass Elliot. In a time that didn't particularly prize purity of tone, her voice was like the best cut crystal lost in a sea of dixie cups. This clip, I think, tells a little bit why: for all her game goes at being a hippie chick, an earth mother, a rock goddess, what Cass really wanted, in her heart of hearts, was to be Helen O'Connell, just a girl singing with the band. And she would have been dynamite.

It's a curious thing; on the few clips in which Cass sings standards, her voice really is as soaring and elegant as that of any big-band thrush. At times, singing her own hits, though, it can falter, make you wonder what kind of pre-digital wizardry created her studio sound. Search her out, though, singing live, and not singing under the pressure of sounding just like the girl on "Make Your Own Kind of Music" or "Dream a Little Dream," and you know that she really was all she wanted to be.

It's hard to believe that if things had gone just a little differently, she could still be singing - hell, at nearly a decade younger than Petula Clark (still trouping), and just about equal to la Streisand, she could still be a sensation. At least we have YouTube; at the very least, go check her out dabbling in a little heartbreak with John Denver. The song always makes me just a little weepy, but her other message could hardly be more timely...


  1. And what a catalogue. Too many to mention. What I love about her is that she's unafraid to step back into harmony as well - it's all about the song.

  2. What great talent she had. I've loved her and her work since since I was a child and she became known to me as a member of the Mamas and the Papas.

    Her song, "Different," from the Pufnstuf should be played for every child out there struggling to find his or her way in life.

    Bless her.

  3. Within the past month there was a documentary on PBS about the Mamas and the Papas. It motivated me to look into YouTube for clips of her on the Carson Show, Mike Douglas and her own TV specials. She was very much on the cutting edge of things like womens' rights. Seeing her mother in the audience I think she was very proud of her daughter. My mother said her grandparents lived in our old hometown, Edwardsville, PA. Can't say I knew them or her. I would have known her by her voice.

  4. A voice as distinctive as Karen carpenters