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Men and Women: Together in Perfect Harmony?

 

I first heard “Suzanne” on Judy Collins’ 1972 compilation album, Colors of the Day. In my youth, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was especially captured by the beauty of the voices of some songstresses. I remember getting to Judy Collins’ Fifth Album by way of Bob Dylan, whose songs and, shall we say vocal stylings, I appreciated.

[Fair warning, we have a few great recordings to work through here, any one of which may lead you down a rabbit hole. No, hopefully not that one! So, if you are too busy midweek, bookmark this post for your end-of-week wind-down.]

It was in the later 1980s that I got to Leonard Cohen, by way of another songstress, Jennifer Warnes. She had a hit in 1977 with “The Right Time of the Night.” Then she did an album project that stepped completely away from pop, around the same time Linda Ronstadt, in What’s Newstarted exploring the Great American Songbook.

Famous Blue Raincoat was a tribute to Leonard Cohen, for whom Warnes had sung back up years before. Warnes was probably helping Cohen in 1986, given the ebbs and flows of the music business. I was into great guitar work, and Stevie Ray Vaughan helped propel the first cut, “First We Take Manhattan,” up the charts. “Ain’t No Cure for Love” also got good airplay.

So, I bought the CD and finally found that Leonard Cohen was a singer in his own right, as well as a brilliant songwriter. Listen to Cohen join Warnes on “Joan of Arc,” as the fire singing to Joan. Exploring his catalog led to his recording of “Suzanne,” as part of his 1967 debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen.

Since I grew up in a home without television, it took the Internet for me to discover the old television recordings of the two friends singing together. Here are Judy Collins and Leonard Cohen in 1976:

Judy Collins, at age 77, tells the story of how they met, then sings while accompanying herself on piano:

How does she do that? In a 9 April 2019 interview with Mark Davis, Judy Collins explained how she is still recording and performing:

I have to live like an athlete. I have to eat right, sleep right, practice, and, um you know, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t scream, and try to take care of yourself.

Good words to live long and prosper by. Oh, here is another good piece of advice: don’t put blind financial trust in one person. It is an old, familiar tale in the entertainment, but here is Leonard Cohen, singing to rebuild his finances at age 73, after Cohen had been swindled out of any retirement.

Well, everybody knows the deal is rotten …

Which, finally, brings us back around to Judy Collins and … Stephen Stills. They were an item until about the time he joined Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Even though he wrote “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” for the CSN first album, she wasn’t having him back. But, they have been friends and artists together over the decades, leading to their 2017 reunion on … Everybody Knows.

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Published in Group Writing
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There are 20 comments.

  1. Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    A little dance, a little song. What’cha got? I wonder if you picked up the musical tangent from the title, not invoked within the post?


    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the April 2019 Group Writing Theme: Men and Women. There are plenty of dates still available. Tell us about your favorite couple, witty or tragic observations between the sexes, or perhaps the battles and truces. Or do something entirely different. Maybe a musical or dance post! Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    May’s theme will be blossom midway through April’s showers.

    • #1
    • April 10, 2019 at 6:00 am
    • 1 like
  2. Contributor

    I can’t think of Judy Collins without thinking of this song. It always makes me so sad . . .

     

    • #2
    • April 10, 2019 at 6:42 am
    • 4 likes
  3. Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I can’t think of Judy Collins without thinking of this song. It always makes me so sad . . .

     

    And then there was:

    “For all of my holy Freedom,

    what have I got to show?

    I don’t know.”

    • #3
    • April 10, 2019 at 6:53 am
    • 3 likes
  4. Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I can’t think of Judy Collins without thinking of this song. It always makes me so sad . . .

     

    Add about 4 decades of living:

    • #4
    • April 10, 2019 at 7:09 am
    • 3 likes
  5. Contributor

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Add about 4 decades of living:

    Gave me chills . . .

    • #5
    • April 10, 2019 at 7:17 am
    • 2 likes
  6. Member

    Clifford A. Brown: [Fair warning, we have a few great recordings to work through here, any one of which may lead you down a rabbit hole. No, hopefully not that one! So, if you are too busy midweek, bookmark this post for your end-of-week wind-down.]

    Too funny. :-) Thank you. :)

    I have to work today, and I could listen to Judy Collins clips all day.

    I shall save this for when I am finished with my project. :-)

    In the meantime, I love this ballad and the story it tells that she wrote about Colorado, “The Blizzard.”

    • #6
    • April 10, 2019 at 7:29 am
    • 2 likes
  7. Coolidge

    Very nice, Clifford.

    “Suzanne” is one of my favorite all time songs. “Suzanne” made Leonard Cohen famous. Leonard Cohen was also responsible for the beautiful but now almost ubiquitous “Hallelujah” made popular by Jeff Buckley, made really, really popular by Pentatonix, sung by many American Idol/ Voice contestants and by people like Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, many a church group and many, many others.

    Leonard Cohen was an observant Jew who loved Jesus. 

    • #7
    • April 10, 2019 at 8:05 am
    • 4 likes
  8. Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    A little dance, a little song.

    Actually what that makes me think of is, “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmBK5GslDaQ

    • #8
    • April 10, 2019 at 8:33 am
    • 4 likes
  9. Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown: How does she do that? In a 9 May 2019 interview with Mark Davis, Judy Collins explained how she is still recording and performing:

    Any time travel here?

    • #9
    • April 10, 2019 at 9:21 am
    • 2 likes
  10. Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I can’t think of Judy Collins without thinking of this song. It always makes me so sad . . .

     

    And then there was:

    “For all of my holy Freedom,

    what have I got to show?

    I don’t know.”

     

    Everyone singing, I gotta be me….without you.

    • #10
    • April 10, 2019 at 1:32 pm
    • 3 likes
  11. Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: How does she do that? In a 9 May 2019 interview with Mark Davis, Judy Collins explained how she is still recording and performing:

    Any time travel here?

    • #11
    • April 10, 2019 at 7:48 pm
    • Like
  12. Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    unsk2 (View Comment):

    Very nice, Clifford.

    “Suzanne” is one of my favorite all time songs. “Suzanne” made Leonard Cohen famous. Leonard Cohen was also responsible for the beautiful but now almost ubiquitous “Hallelujah” made popular by Jeff Buckley, made really, really popular by Pentatonix, sung by many American Idol/ Voice contestants and by people like Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, many a church group and many, many others.

    Leonard Cohen was an observant Jew who loved Jesus.

    • #12
    • April 10, 2019 at 7:50 pm
    • 1 like
  13. Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I can’t think of Judy Collins without thinking of this song. It always makes me so sad . . .

     

    One of my first experiences in California was to attend what was then called the Paul Masson Jazz Festival and hear Sarah Vaughn sing Send in the Clowns. No one can top that performance. 

    • #13
    • April 10, 2019 at 11:14 pm
    • 3 likes
  14. Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I can’t think of Judy Collins without thinking of this song. It always makes me so sad . . .

     

    Thank you for this; one of the loveliest pieces of music ever; magnificent! 

    • #14
    • April 11, 2019 at 6:28 pm
    • 2 likes
  15. Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Add about 4 decades of living:

    Gave me chills . . .

    Me too, without the #! Jim

    • #15
    • April 11, 2019 at 6:35 pm
    • 2 likes
  16. Member

    One Judy Collins song that I like: Albatross.

    I started a thread to speculate about the meaning of these lyrics, here.

     

    • #16
    • April 11, 2019 at 6:54 pm
    • 2 likes
  17. Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author
    David Foster

     

    One Judy Collins song that I like: Albatross.

    I started a thread to speculate about the meaning of these lyrics, here.

    Thanks for recalling that one. It has been years since I listened to the whole album, I now recall Albatross to have been a favorite at the time, listening to the LP.

    • #17
    • April 12, 2019 at 3:07 pm
    • Like
  18. Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Leonard Cohen talks about meeting Judy Collins, and later singing “Suzanne” to her over the telephone. Judy Collins talks about the night she brought Leonard with her to sing at a concert at New York’s Town Hall.

    • #18
    • April 12, 2019 at 3:20 pm
    • Like
  19. Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Heading into the weekend, another pairing: “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.”

    Leonard Cohen -Original
    https://youtu.be/b-bJPmasXKs
    Judy Collins -on Wildflowers
    https://youtu.be/6clgGSUMTl8
    Lenny and Judy
    https://youtu.be/IVJImYNGqwk

    • #19
    • April 12, 2019 at 4:26 pm
    • 1 like
  20. Member

    Judy Collins was one of the artists I let myself go on when I was posting Saturday Night Classics. Rather than one song, I allowed myself 3 or 4.

    • #20
    • April 14, 2019 at 2:43 pm
    • 1 like