SALT LAKE CITY — When two-time figure skating world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford first heard April Meservy’s cover of U2’s “With Or Without You,” it brought them to tears.
The Canadian ice skating duo had been planning on skating to the U2 song since 2011, Duhamel wrote in a June blog post, and was initially going to perform to an instrumental version of the U2 original. Then, they heard a relatively unknown version of the song recorded by Provo musician April Meservy.
“Her voice was raw, powerful and captivating,” Duhamel wrote. “Eric and I sat there in tears listening to it. There was no Plan B after that. This was it. It had to be it.”
Duhamel and Radford added Meservy’s version of “With or Without You” to their routine and performed it at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Vancouver in January, where the skating partners qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Meservy told KSL.com Monday that the song was recorded in a moment of spontaneity and sadness. The Provo musician was in a recording studio waiting to work with a vocalist who was running late. As Meservy waited, she began talking to the sound engineer, whom she was friends with, about a serious relationship in her life that was reaching an end.
“I just started crying and said, ‘I just feel like I can’t live with or without him,’” Meservy said. “As soon as I said that, he (the sound engineer) turned over to his keyboard and started playing the chords to ‘With or Without You.’”
Meservy had grown up listening to the song, which originally appeared on U2’s acclaimed 1987 album “The Joshua Tree,” but said she read the lyrics in an entirely new way that day.
“I literally pulled up the words on my iPhone,” Meservy said, adding that the recording studio was a “makeshift booth” in the sound engineer’s house.
Meservy did not plan on originally releasing the recording, she said, and it was supposed to just be “something for me.” Over time, Meservy felt the song might speak to people who “feel torn.”
“So I just decided I would do it (release it), which was a little scary,” Meservy said, because she had never talked about her relationships in a public forum before.
Meservy, who is originally from Reno, said she has been singing her whole life. “I guess I’ve always been singing,” Meservy said. “My sister and I used to sing a lot when we were little. We used to make up songs, like little kids do.”
In high school, Meservy began writing music and getting involved in studio vocal work. She recalled an inspiring moment when one of her friends found a beat-up guitar in a dumpster. “He pulled it out, fixed it up a little bit and started using it to write,” Meservy said.
Finding out her song was being used by Duhamel and Radford was “totally unexpected,” Meservy said. In August 2017, the pair mentioned her in a Facebook post. When she clicked on the post and saw her song being skated to, she was shocked.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. Who are these amazing skaters and how did they find my song?’” Meservy said.
An anonymous donor bought Meservy a plane ticket to Vancouver, she said, and she was able to attend the Canadian Figure Skating Championship and see the duo skate to her song.
“It was really kind of an emotional experience, because it’s kind of a very personal song, at the end of the day,” Meservy said. “It was incredible.”
Meservy said she recently received another anonymous donation: a plane ticket to South Korea, as well as a ticket to an Olympic figure skating contest at the Gangneung Ice Arena, which will take place from Feb. 9 to Feb. 23.
Meservy never thought she’d be able to make it to the Olympics to see the pair skating to the song, she said. As a working full-time musician, it is “not like I have loads of cash,” Meservy said.
Meservy released a full-length album in 2010 and a four-track EP titled “The Good-Morrow” in January. She described the new release as “the next part” of her U2 cover, albeit a less sorrowful one. It includes a love song about a relationship Meservy is currently in, she said.
In her blog post, Duhamel noted that she and Radford discovered Meservy’s U2 cover at a “highly sensitive time” when Radford was recovering from an injury.
“It was an emotional roller coaster,” Duhamel said, “but listening to April’s version of ‘With or Without You’ gave us all hope. It gave us hope for the future, hope that we, as a team, would be back and hope that we really could evolve and grow our skating to a level it has never been.”
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