Liona Boyd portrait by Dean Marrantz for No Remedy For Love, the book and album
Liona Boyd portrait by Dean Marrantz for No Remedy For Love, the book and album

Liona Boyd Shares An Intimacy About Love

Finding the right partner presents a challenge at any age. My feeling is that often a partner works well for a certain chapter in one’s life, but not for another. Of course, those who find their soul mates early on and are able to maintain love through all the family years until their senior days … well, in some ways they are indeed fortunate. But on the other hand, they might look with envy upon a life such as mine, with its change and variety, and its lack of responsibility. For somebody such as myself, who has had such an intense career and many men who have loved me over the years, it has not been easy to find a partner who did not eventually become resentful of my career. I think that it is much less challenging for a male performer to find a supportive wife than it is for a successful woman to find a supportive husband.

I look at Sarah Brightman, Joan Baez, Carly Simon, and so many other female artists who have entered their sixties alone. In a life dominated by a career, it is not always that simple to find that last great love — unless you happen to be Barbra Streisand, who somehow seems to have defied the odds! Although I have been without a loving husband, I did have a wonderful musical soul mate in Peter Bond and a guitar partner in Michael Savona, who each made recording and touring so enjoyable.

More concerts in Canada were booked and promoted by my sister’s good friend and former partner, Jimmy Prevost, whom we consider to be part of our extended Boyd family. Playing once again in the familiar Ontario towns made me feel as if I were in a time warp; although, of course, the different nature of the concerts that I was now giving made everything seem fresh. Happily, our new repertoire of songs seemed to strike a chord with my audiences, many of whom I’m sure were surprised to see me singing as well as playing my guitar. I invited Michael to contribute a couple of solos, and we added my spoken poem “Oh Guitar” while he accompanied me with Albeniz’s “Zambra Granadina.”

In June of 2012, through my friend Shaun Pilot, Michael and I were booked at a concert in Anaheim, California, which provided me a great excuse to visit my former home again, have drinks with Jack and Maggy, see my beloved cat, Muffin, and catch up with several of my L.A. girlfriends. We stayed a couple of nights at the art-filled Hollywood home of my generous actress friend Mara New, where her husband serenaded us with Beethoven and Schumann on his grand piano, and then took us to hear a recital by a Russian virtuoso pianist he had discovered.

I did a test run of “We Are the Women of the World” while we were out in California and accompanied the colourful Agape church choir on my guitar. Rickie, the wife of charismatic New Age minister Dr. Michael Beckwith, was the soloist. What a thrill to hear everyone singing the words and melodies that Joanne and I had written two years previously.

That same month I flew down to Palm Beach to record with my girlfriend Olivia Newton-John, who had offered to sing harmony with me on “Canadian Summer Dreams.” This song would never have been written had not my sister, Vivien, expressed concern that so much of my new Canadian repertoire seemed to have been inspired by images of winter … from “Song of the Arctic” to “Aurora Borealis” to “Little Towns.”

“How about a summery cottage song to balance it out?” she had suggested.

I instantly visualized barbecues, marshmallows, biting bugs, and highway traffic jams. I shook my head, but within a few days “Canadian Summer Dreams” was born, a four-verse poetic song that I think captures the unique beauty of our Canadian summer cottage experiences.

"…. With family and friends we loved it all

Listening to the loons and the wild geese call

The beaver dam, the pond, the waterfall

In those sun-kissed summer days we had it all"

When I played it to Olivia, she told me she heard right away where her vocals would fit, and I was thrilled to pieces that her lovely voice would be immortalized in my song.

I had flown Peter down with me to record her and booked Echo Beach Studios in Jupiter so that it would be convenient. Before the recording session Olivia invited us both over to her house, where she made us one of her famous “cuppas” — strong British tea with milk and delicious Manuka honey. Waiting for the tea to brew, the two of us started singing the song together in her kitchen as Peter looked on smiling. How lucky I was to have such a talented girlfriend! Olivia only needed one or two takes for each section where she joined me in harmony, and when she decided to add improvised vamps to the end of the song, Peter and I had goosebumps listening to her sing it live in the studio. Her vocals were perfection!

Excerpted from No Remedy for Love by Liona Boyd. All rights reserved. Published by Dundurn Press

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