September 2004: Hurricane Frances, Ivan, the peculiarly erratic Jeanne,
Lisa . . . It was another crazed storm season in South Florida, and
every single time Magda Hiller and I booked a vocal session for her to
come down to Fort Lauderdale and duet on Night on Earth we found
ourselves directly in the path of another monster. Mag's new baby Wyatt
made any thought of a trip impossible on each occasion. It began to look
as if this session just wasn't meant to be.
On the fourth attempt Mag finally made the gig, but my surprise she
showed up chauffeured by mom (I'm an old friend of the family) and with
a pronounced limp! She'd injured her back but said "I told my mom I
can't possibly cancel again!" Mag (pictured here at a 2005 house concert
she did with Diane Ward and Jack Shawde) did this session all-standing because
she simply couldn't sit down due to her back pain, and she was in
evident pain throughout the session. This was courage above and beyond,
yet the singing is vintage Magda with all her sly humour and unique
style. Whenever I'd sung the line "She laughed" I'd heard Mag in my
head, and I knew Maria needed to be gutsy and indestructible. Mag proved
herself to be just that.
The 28 players on this album together constitute my dream line-up, and
seven of the contributors are women. At times on this song when Lori's
piano smiles, Shasha's soaring violin swoops and dives and Magda's vocal
winks, Maria the waitress (a character provided by Leigh Johnson in a
lyric co-written as a paper-folding game of consequences) gets the
setting she deserves.