Sweet Judy Blue Eyes – My Life in Music, by Judy Collins
image via betterworldbooks.com
This book begins and ends with Stephen Stills, one of Collins' lovers during the `sixties; certainly a tryst that remains most vivid in her mind. And in between she tells us of her youth in Colorado, her family, including her talented, blind father, and her attraction to folk music. She also chronicles her ailments: polio, and a growing depression that resulted in an early attempt at suicide.
But mostly the book is about her life within the music business of the `sixties and `seventies, her evolution as a folk singer, which eventually expanded to include show tunes and various strains of pop music of that era. She began to write her own material during the `sixties, but she was mainly known then, as now, as an interpreter of other songwriters' music.
But there's much more here than simply her life in music - or rather the manner in which the music exposed her to more than the entertainment business. She experimented sexually, was involved in therapy for years, and eventually came to the forefront of the women's movement. During this time, she drank increasingly, until it began to affect her career, something she's since conquered.
Her writing here is casual, almost conversational, and she borders on gossip at times, certainly an easy thing to do when considering the peccadilloes of that era's musical luminaries. But she has clearly made an attempt to see her decades in music, and the people about her during those years, in an objective manner, and she writes about it all in a sweet manner. Still, it's a confessional that doesn't drag you into personal morass as much as present you with a from-years-later perspective on her life.
image via jmeshel.com
If you’ve read this far into this post, you’re probably as much a fan of Collins’ music as I, particularly that of her early career. So here’s something to whet your musical whistle: Following a recording session for her “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” album, on which Stills played, Stills stayed alone in the studio and recorded himself solo playing a number of his most well known tunes, including perhaps his most famous, one about Collins: “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” The tape has recently been released and you can find out more about it here. The collection is called “Just Roll Tape.” Keep clicking on Stills’ site until you find it.
My rating: 16 of 20 stars
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