Monday, August 30, 2010

Don't Bother, They're Here

Some of you are so young that you've never even heard of Judy Collins.

A little history, then.

Stephen Sondheim wrote a song in 1973 titled "Send In The Clowns." It was tremendously overwrought, but in the theatrical context it was written for (a musical), it worked brilliantly.

Folksinger/songwriter/social activist Judy Collins recorded the song in 1975. Incredibly, she managed to make it even more overwrought than the lyrics. It became a standard of the era, and the signature depression/self-pity song for women.

Have a listen: Send in the Clowns .

In case you're wondering, men had their own depression/self-pity song of that era--"Alone Again, Naturally" by Gilbert O'Sullivan. It was wistful and understated-- to an 18-year-old, at least. Believe it or not, it's still one of my favorite songs.

Have a listen: Alone Again, Naturally.

Thus concludes the background.

One of my friends told me on Friday that he had to go to a Judy Collins concert. "What is she, seventy?" I asked (seventy-one, actually).

He cringed. "I don't have a choice," he said."My wife is demanding that I go with her."

"Promise me one thing," I said. "If all the women join arms in a human chain and start singing 'Send In The Clowns" together, get me a picture."

I saw him today.

"How was the concert?" I asked.

"We were almost the youngest people there," he said (he's in his late fifties). "I saw old hippies using walkers."

"What about the human chain?" I asked.

"No luck," he said, "but there was a teenage couple sitting right in front of us. I think they were the only teenagers in the entire audience. At one point, I asked them why they had come, and they both looked embarrassed, then the guy slapped his forehead and said 'we had to bring our grandparents.' "

One trivia note that may be of interest to no one but me: Collins was the inspiration for the Stephen Stills song "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," which was a sensational song and huge hit for Crosby, Stills, and Nash. And since I'm linking all over this post, listen to this one as well: Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

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