It’s got to come from the heart
August 2, 2012. No comments.
Jennifer Crook: A farewell to Jim Couza (posted in Spiral Earth 20/09/2009)
Jim Couza sadly died on the 2nd August this year after a long struggle with ill-health. An unforgettable, larger than life character, Jim was a big influence on me as a young adult. (It’s a little known fact that before I took up the harp I attended hammered dulcimer weekends!) but it wasn’t the instrument itself that really made an impact, it was the way Jim played and sang with such commitment and conviction – throwing himself into the music with such passion. I remember hearing him sing “Hard Love”, and something in me suddenly ‘got it’ – that music could really heal those broken places and give expression to our deepest feelings, and help us rise above it all.
Many of the songs he chose had a message, a spiritual element. He would often sing of faith – but never pretended to be more than completely human. And of course, there were the jokes – the good ones, and the really awful ones…
Hearing a recording of that powerful, soulful voice singing “Amazing Grace” in the church was hard. There were lots of tears that day. As we walked down the road behind the coffin past the pretty thatched cottages, a brave girl started singing “Swing Low”- not like the organist had played it in the service, but the way Jim used to sing it. And then we sang “Angel Band” – another song I recently realised that I first heard from Jim’s singing over 20 years ago, like many of the Old Timey and Irish tunes I am now so familiar with.
Later, sitting by the pond in a beautiful and sunny garden with my friend Linda we thought about the ripples we send out in life, how you never really know how far they travel, and how we are all so intrinsically connected. Everything effects everything else so much more than we can ever know…
We spent the afternoon making music. Playing old Cythara tunes that Jim wrote, or taught to us, and things I thought I’d have long forgotten. Maclaine Colston took up the role now left to him on Jim’s dulcimer – the only person in the world qualified to do a perfect impression of Jim’s playing! When we were young it was kind of an affectionate piss-take. Now it was the closest we could get.
It was a wonderful send off, I only wish Jim had been there too… Once again we are reminded that we must gather together those that mean a lot to us whenever we can.
I sang “Come From the Heart” that afternoon, and again at my Didmarton gig (to the surprise of my band!) and the audience sang along. I sang it for Jim, and for what he taught me.
So it’s back home and there’s more than a few mundane tasks to attend to, but I have promised myself not to forget the reason for it all. I might not have set out on this path at all were it not for the sound of one man singing it from the heart.