Sunday, June 15, 2014

Judy Collins in Concert at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights

Last night, Judy Collins came out onto the stage at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, one of our nation’s most beautiful and intimate venues for singers, and belted out a fabulous version of Joni Mitchell’s song “Chelsea Morning.” That put to rest once and for all any worry about the 75-year-old singer’s vocal power. Her voice is strong, pure, and in tune, with all the subtleties any singer could ever want.

Judy Collins on stage at Cain Park (phone camera)

Here are some of the songs she sang during her hour and a half set:

  • “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”--a tribute to Pete Seeger.
  • “Born to the Breed” (for her late son Clark).
  • "Coal Tattoo," by Billy Edd Wheeler.
  • “Grandaddy,” one of my all-time favorite songs, and especially poignant to me now that I am a grandfather.
  • “My Father,” again, one of my favorites.
  • “John Riley,” an old song, from her earliest work.
  • “Where or When,” a Rogers and Hart song, beloved by her father.
  • Three Stephen Sondheim songs, including “Pretty Women” and “Send in the Clowns.”
  • “Norwegian Wood,” by Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
  • "Mountain Girl"--made us think about our daughter Carolan.
  • “New Moon Over the Hudson.”

Judy Collins ended the night with a sweet rendition of “Danny Boy.” In singing that song was she thinking of all the people she has been close to who have died? Most recently, Pete Seeger? And her son Clark? Was she thinking about herself? I hope this is not the last time I get to see her in concert. She is a national treasure (an international treasure, as they know in Ireland!).

Two themes that seemed to run through many of the songs: Fatherhood and parenthood; she seemed profoundly influenced by her own father and grandfather. And mortality--nothing lasts forever, where have all the flowers gone?

There are few singers and musicians who have brought meaning, passion, and beauty together like Judy Collins has--and she has done that over a 55-year career. Wow, what a treasure!

* * *

We started last evening by dining at Tommy's on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights. This is one of my favorite restaurants, with very healthy food, lots of vegetarian options, and it's located in one of Cleveland's most interesting and vital neighborhoods. It is a relic of the Hippie Era, and I love it. After eating at Tommy's we went next door to Cleveland's best little bookstore, Mac's Backs--Books on Coventry, and chatted a bit with Suzanne DeGaetano, the long-time store manager, the person who knows books and Cleveland literary events as well as anyone in town.

Here is a Youtube version of Judy Collins singing "Danny Boy" in Ireland:

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