Judy Collins

Rainbow Quest Pete Seeger #32

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Judy Collins, along with Donovan, was the most famous artist to appear on Pete Seeger's mid-'60s Rainbow Quest television program, and also the only one other than Donovan who could have been said to later become a pop star. She was, in fact, already making moves away from traditional folk and toward folk-rock by the time she appeared on this episode. Because it was a Seeger-hosted endeavor, after all, she perhaps tailored her tune selection here toward her more traditional roots, accompanied only by her acoustic guitar (and sometimes dueting with Seeger). She does some Dylan material, including "Daddy, You've Been on My Mind," and performs well; certainly no one could accuse her guitar skills of being merely functional after viewing this. There's a sense, though, that it's not as artistically adventurous as it could be. It only really catches fire at the very end, when Collins does Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!," which she had recorded on her third album in 1963. A good set nonetheless, it's marred by an overlong introductory section featuring Seeger alone, in which he tells several stories, punctuated by songs, where one tale alone would have been enough. Could there have been many people viewing this that hadn't heard that old chestnut about several blind men feeling different parts of an elephant? It's related in play-by-play detail nonetheless. In addition, there's another intrusive segment of footage of a guitar maker that Seeger visited in Mexico. Such footage did fit in with the overall purposes of Seeger's program, which delved into all aspects of the folk tradition. Looking at this many years later, though, you want to see more, or at least as much as possible, of Collins, as not that much vintage footage of her is in circulation.