Hit makers: Duhamel, Radford have music world spinning
Canadian figure skaters have propelled haunting rendition of U2's 'With or Without You' up charts
By Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
April Meservy recorded her haunting cover of U2's "With or Without You" to help heal a broken heart.
The American singer/songwriter had opened up to her friend Aaron Edson one night, telling him her long-time on-again, off-again relationship was finally over. She broke down in tears, saying "I feel like I can't live with or without him."
"He turned to his keyboard and started playing the U2 cords," Meservy said.
That unexpected moment kick-started a thrilling and cathartic series of events that has the indie singer in Pyeongchang to cheer on Canada's two-time world pairs champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford — and her song climbing up the iTunes charts.
"I would never have dreamed of having something like this happen," Meservy said the morning after touching down in South Korea. "This happening is such a one-in-a-zillion, amazing thing. From beginning to end, it's been fairly miraculous."
Duhamel and Radford are due to skate to Meservy's version of U2's hit song in their short program Wednesday at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
Meservy and Edson recorded the song in Edson's tiny basement studio the same night she confided in him a couple of years ago. It took her one take. She scrolled through the lyrics on her phone while she sang. She hasn't sung the song since.
Edson added backup vocals, and later, a cello.
"I had just been in tears and I didn't feel exactly like doing a song, and I hadn't prepared for anything. But it was just in that moment when he played the chords . . . what was so interesting to me, and so painful but beautiful is that it allowed me to kind of grieve through the song," she said. "Every single line I felt like I could identify with. We got done, we did the one take, and we left it at that."
Meservy didn't release the song until this time last year. And it wasn't until Duhamel and Radford began skating to it this season that it really took off. The Canadians had considered skating to an instrumental version of U2's 1987 hit for several years, and then choreographer Julie Marcotte stumbled upon Meservy's version.
VIDEO | 5 things about Duhamel and Radford
"Her voice was raw, powerful and captivating, and Julie, Eric and I sat there in tears listening to it," Duhamel wrote on her blog. "There was no Plan B after that. This was it. It had to be it."
Duhamel and Radford tagged Meservy in a Facebook post last August, thanking her for "the beautiful music."
"I thought they're world champion incredible ice skaters, how on earth did they find this?" Meservy marvelled.
The song recently popped up on the iTunes chart, reaching the top 40 at one point.
"And it's been Shazamed . . . 19,572 times," she said, with a quick check of her phone. "Isn't that insane? I have other songs that have three Shazams. All of that is because they chose to use it."
Meservy's trip from her home in Provo, Utah, to Pyeongchang will be the second time she's seen the Canadians skate to her song live, thanks to an anonymous donor. Someone generously flew her and a friend to Vancouver and put them up in a hotel for the Canadian championships last month.
VIDEO | Duhamel and Radford unite athleticism and artistry
"It was so amazing," said Meservy, who performed in Salt Lake City's Olympic Square during the 2002 Winter Olympics. "They're so exceptional as people as well as skaters, and watching them skate to that, it brought up a lot of different emotions between feelings of hope, excitement, gratitude, a mixture of bringing me back to a feeling of the grief.
"But it felt swallowed up in this beautiful joyful artistic gift they had put out. In that way it felt like watching something that had been so painful for me become so life-giving and beautiful. I can't even believe it."
Meservy had planned to come to South Korea regardless, but the anonymous donor stepped up once again to pay for flights and tickets to Wednesday's short program, and no amount of digging would reveal their identity.
"I still have no idea who he or she or they are," said the grateful singer.
She's developed a love for figure skating along the way.
VIDEO | Duhamel, Radford win team pairs free skate
"I have never learned so much about figure skating in my life . . . like OK, that's what a triple Lutz is, that's what a death spiral is. I've become a huge fan, I think I always will be at this point," she said.
"And watching team Canada, I feel like I have two countries I love and root for now. I love U.S.A. and I love Canada. I have to say though for this, I'm definitely on team Canada."
A couple of weeks ago, Meservy released a new EP "The Good-Morrow," that she calls her "second chapter," and includes a cover of Coldplay's "Fix You."
And a love song "because I'm now in a relationship again and I'm feeling my heart open again in a way that it hasn't in quite some time."