Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music

Posted by nliakos on June 19, 2014

by Judy Collins (Crown, 2011)

Judy Collins is one of my favorite singers, so I was looking forward to reading her memoir about growing up and being a part of the folksong and singer-songwriter movement in the sixties and seventies. It was interesting because I am familiar with most of the singers she mentions, but actually I was disappointed because the book is full of lists–lists of people she met, knew, slept with; lists of songs she learned or sang on this album or that–but it lacks affect. I never felt that she was really telling me anything about these people or songs other than that she knew them, or slept with them, or sang them, or wrote them. Was I expecting some kind of baring of the soul? Maybe. I didn’t find it.

She does write a lot about her alcoholism, which began when she was very young and continued for decades. It’s really amazing that she was able to produce such beautiful music when she consistently abused alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Before reading the book, I did not realize the extent of her addictions. The fact that she was able to perform and record during all those years is nothing short of amazing.

She describes her first marriage to Peter Taylor as quite idyllic, but it suddenly ended and she was separated from her son, Clark. She doesn’t really explain why the marriage ended or how it affected her. (Her involvement with the Sullivanians, who discouraged monogamous relationships, did not help.) She mentions a custody fight for Clark, which she lost; and then a few years later, Taylor and his new wife appear out of the blue and send Clark back to her. It’s never clear why they did this. There is a lot in this book that isn’t clear.

I think the editor could have done a better job, too. Sometimes the book wanders from one topic to another without any real focus (at times within a single paragraph).

Despite all my complaints, I finished the book, and it brought back many happy memories of listening to, learning, and singing a lot of wonderful songs, both traditional and composed. It made me want to download some of my favorite songs to listen to again!

One Response to “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music”

  1. Thanks like you big j Collins fan. Appreciate your clear headed review. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox.

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