VALE: CYNDI BOSTE (1961-2018)
Australian singer/songwriter Cyndi Boste died in April, after a long battle with cancer.
Cyndi grew up in the foothills of Melbourne’s Dandenong ranges, with “bush, cows, paddocks, bikes and Tarzan swings”.
From a young age, she loved music. “I was always buying records – every Friday, Mum and I would go down the street and buy four or five singles. It was a real passion. And I always had a trannie [transistor radio] under my pillow, listening to [radio station] 3XY!”
In her mid-teens, Cyndi began working professionally as a musician, including as a regular guest on Channel 0 television program, The Early Bird Show.
Cyndi started out as a covers performer. “I always dreamt about being a songwriter – but I didn’t think I was very good at it. I would throw the occasional original song in, but it wasn’t really a big part of my life. Around 1990, I recorded an acoustic tape of original songs. I try to forget about the tape – it’s pretty bad – although there are people out there who still really like it.”
In the 1990s, Cyndi joined her brother Rory in the band, Steve Boyd and the Preachers. “They were doing nothing but original music. And I discovered that I could write songs and that they were pretty good too. Maybe I just had to wait long enough to grow up inside or something. When I sat down to write my first album, Home Truths, those songs just came.”
Cyndi found that she wasn’t a prolific song writer. “I think that I’d write a lot more if I didn’t have to run the business…If I seriously think about whether I should walk away from music, because it feels too hard or it’s costing too much money, then the pain in my gut is so strong that I can’t think about it any more and I have to keep going. If I were to retire from the road just to write songs, then that would be retirement bliss. The touring is a grind, it really is, and it’s getting harder and harder in this country to tour successfully.”
For Cyndi, people requesting a song was a huge honour. “If people ask for a particular song, that’s the biggest payoff, the best thing in the world for me. It means that someone knows my work, knows it by name and has a connection to it.”
But she also said, “As a performer, it’s much easier to tell someone else’s story – you’re not so personally attached to it. My emotional vulnerability is far less when I’m singing someone else’s song than when I’m singing one of my own songs – for sure, FOR sure.”
With her song ‘I’m Outta Here’ (from Nowadays, 2013), which Cyndi wrote in memory of her friend Chris Green, she might have been writing her own obituary:
https://cyndiboste.bandcamp.com/track/im-outta- here-ballad- of-chris- green
Of Nowadays, Cyndi said, “For the most part, Nowadays is a positive reaffirmation of the journey thus far. Happy to be where I am these days, in many ways. Bit tougher than my other records, I think, but essentially country.”
In an interview a decade ago, Cyndi laughed when read a quote from a then recent novel which described artists as:
a mysterious combination of deep passion, volatile sensitivities, and uncommon vision…persons of rare fragility and unsurpassed emotional complexity
“I know that person — can you put those words on my tombstone!”
Sue had the privilege of interviewing Cyndi Boste several times, for several publications. And with winter coming to south-eastern Australia, she remembers Cyndi’s tips for keeping warm: “Lots of tea. Lots of slow cooking. Long walks. And plenty of wood!”
Cyndi Boste: Select Discography
Acoustic Tape (c. 1990)
Home Truths (1999)
Push Comes to Shove (2002)
Scrambled Eggs (2004)
Foothill Dandy (2006)