Back in August, Carolyn and I were vacationing near Ogunquit, Maine, when we noticed a flyer announcing a Judy Collins concert in late September. We are both Judy Collins fans and Ogunquit is only about 2 hours away, so we decided to make a pilgrimage back to see her in person. The venue was a small supper club that seats no more than 300 people. Our table was just 20 feet from the stage.
Judy Collins has a voice like no other. It is as brilliant as a summer sun, light as a moon beam and as clear as a mountain stream at its source. At times that voice is tender and intimate, but then it crescendos and sweeps over you like an ocean wave breaking on the shore, leaving you breathless.
At the appointed hour, she appeared, accompanied only by her pianist and her trusty twelve string guitar. The show began with “Someday Soon”, one of our favorite tunes. Over the next 90 minutes, she treated us to about 20 more of her most famous songs.
Between songs, Judy entertained us with a running commentary of her musical career, from her roots in Denver, where she became a child prodigy at the piano, to the ferment of the 60’s and 70’s and to the cultural cross currents of today. She is witty and wise and a bit bawdy, often quoting Mae West, to the delight of the crowd.
Two of my favorite Judy Collins songs are “Send In The Clowns”, with its haunting, mournful melodies and “Farewell To Tarwathie”, a fabulous song about whale hunting that features sounds of whales singing to each in the background.
But there is one song of hers that just overwhelms me. It sends chills down my spine every time I hear it. I want it played at my funeral. It is the song she is best known for and it captures the essence of her incredible voice. Listen and see if you don’t agree.
Maybe someone reading this post may know someone who knows someone who knows Judy Collins. If so, please tell her how grateful I am for her talent. My life would have been poorer without her music in it.