Back in March, I talked about Cathy Dennis, her evolution from singer/songwriter to being a songwriter behind some potent hits over the years, and why I’ve always enjoyed her. Last night, I discovered iTunes has added “Into the Skyline,” her second album, to their catalog. Despite owning two copies on CD, I just purchased it again (I’ve only done this for one other artist: Swing Out Sister, who I’ll be seeing next month on my birthday, and of whom a more full entry will eventually arrive).
At the time I wrote about her, I didn’t share a story about one of her songs and how I came to know her catalog more fully, a journey that’d never happen today thanks to the Internet, but probably adds a lot more meaning today, particularly for this album. There are certain artists whose songs or albums stick with me, pop up in odd places, and are songs I turn to in certain situations. “Into the Skyline” is one of those, particularly the track “Moments of Love.” As such, to mark the occasion of her finally getting her due on the digital marketplace, here’s how I came to be a major fan of hers.
It started in 1993, just before my family moved from Virginia to Connecticut. While listening to my stereo in my bedroom, a song came on that had the lyric:
“When/I look back/over time
all the million days in my life
I’ll remember the moments of love”
For some reason, that song, and in particular that lyric, stuck with me. I ended up hearing it a second time before the move, and somehow a good chunk of the lyrics and the song seared into my memory, enough so that a full year later, while visiting family in New Mexico, hearing the song while at a business, I nearly cried. There it was, as I remembered it. Yet I never heard announced who sang it, or what the title was, so it remained elusive.
A couple of years later, I got into watching “Beverly Hills, 90210” reruns. One of the more memorable episodes of the show is their senior prom, entitled “A Night to Remember.” Cathy Dennis, who was the entertainment for the prom, was heavily featured in the episode, doing a few of her songs. And lo and behold, there was the song again. Finally grabbing her name off the credits (a blank VCR tape being locked and loaded to record the end of the episode so I could freeze-frame it and finally identify the artist), I got excited – surely I would finally succeed!
Turns out, a three-year old episode, featuring a song that was on an album that was at that point four years old, would continue to be elusive. The album had been deleted due to lack of success, and stores, with finite space, had replaced it with other fare. I ended up finding her first album, “Move to This,” a full year after I saw the “Beverly Hills, 90210” episode. I certainly like the album, but I hadn’t quite gotten there.
The following year, at a Strawberries near the Massachusetts border, I finally hit the jackpot – a used copy of “Into the Skyline,” scratched but playable, was there. I finally owned a copy of the song, five years after I heard it. It wasn’t the radio version – that would finally come into my possession when I ordered a promo disc off of eBay a few years later – but I had it. When I found a second used copy a couple of years later, I bought that too, just in case the first copy eventually became unplayable. That was how much this CD meant to me.
Now, with an iTunes purchase, it’s kept in the cloud, hopefully for good, whether or not I have the discs, and can be downloaded to an iDevice later if it’s not on me. It’s one of the first instances where a song and artist had a heavy effect on me (although certainly not the last), and I’m glad that, 20 years later (this month, actually), it’s still with me.
The album version of the song is above; the radio edit is almost identical, with one important difference: The string outro was moved to the beginning. The song feels less abrupt, more beautiful, in that form, but it has a lot of meaning to me either way.
The year I got the first used copy was the year I got the Internet, leading me to fan sites and learning about her third album, never released here, called “Am I the Kinda Girl.” That one remains elusive on iTunes, but I ordered an import off of Amazon ages ago, so I’ve got a complete set. Since then, the past 15 years have been watching her and what she’s been up to, which has led to my support of artists she’s written for, largely because her songwriting style tends to lend itself to great pop tracks.
A final note: I mentioned Cathy is one of those artists that follows me around; for many years, even after Riverside Park was acquired by Six Flags and became Six Flags New England, an in-park song loop of early 90s-era songs remained on play in many areas, for whatever reason. A number of songs from “Into the Skyline” were on that loop, including “Irresistible” and “Change Will Come.” The songs were much more noticeable to me after I got the album, and it was like an inside thing between me and the park, which always made me smile.