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Eagle Bytes: January, 2006 (Cynthia McQuillin 7/25/53-1/14/06)

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Hi, everyone --

If you haven't already heard the awful news, Cynthia McQuillin passed away Saturday morning at Kaiser Hospital in Hayward; she apparently died peacefully in her sleep.

If you don't already know her work, Cindy was one of the filk genre's creative crown jewels.

Her early songbooks were the best introduction to singing that any musical dilettante could have wished for. Most songs were satisfyingly playable upon learning just a few chords, employing simple melodies that even tone-deaf lackey like myself could manage. As a teenager, I originally learned how to play a guitar using Cindy's songs serving as teachers and mileposts. I have no doubt that countless others similarly grew from Cindy's music.

Any songwriter can crank out shallow, hackneyed 3-chord songs. Cindy's music, however, was nothing of the sort. Although singable by anyone, her songs offered a depth of imagery and emotional nuance upon which a deft performer or producer could build a haunting, unforgettable experience.

In my view, Cindy is one of the few filkers whose works surpassed aural fanfiction and truly ranked as professional works of musical storytelling. And it's no surprise that Cindy went on to publish numerous short fantasy and science-fiction stories, as she was ultimately a storyteller, with music as one medium. The stories Cindy wove into her songs were so compelling that they served as the foundation of these professional published stories.

And that's just Cindy as a songwriter; others more qualified and closer to her could tell stories about her multi-faceted life as a craftsperson, artist, author, activist, and friend.

I regret not being more assertive in encouraging Cindy to record further after Witch's Dance, to the extent that her health permitted. No matter how adroit Cindy was at taking care of herself, I should have at least volunteered to remove any malleable obstacles, like we did with Julia. Too late.

If you're on LiveJournal, Lynn Gold is collecting stories about Cindy at:


Eagle Bytes will return to its normal format next month when the Traveller CDs ship.