Judy Collins

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Starting with 1967's Wildflowers, Judy Collins, previously known exclusively as an interpretive singer of the songs of others, began including compositions of her own on her albums, along with the traditional folk fare and the work of contemporary singer/songwriters. These songs tended to be piano ballads inspired by her classical training, with highly poetic, semi- (or entirely) autobiographical lyrics well suited to her ethereal vocal style. This CD is a collection of Collins' own compositions dating back to Wildflowers, re-recorded in her Manhattan apartment, with her singing while playing the piano on which she wrote most of the songs. It was released originally in 1995 in a package that contained both the sheet music and an 80-page booklet of autobiographical reminiscences; this reissue contains just the disc. Even without the booklet, the album has a personal slant, since Collins' songs are often about her life, particularly about her family, whether it's "My Father," "Weaver Song (Holly Ann)" (about her sister), "Secret Gardens" (about her grandmother), or "Born to the Breed" (about her son). (The booklet revealed that "Open the Door [Song for Judith]" is about her friend Judith Weston, while the largely impenetrable imagistic poetry of "Albatross" was inspired by a painter friend [or enemy] she declined to name, and "Houses" at least reminded her of her relationship with Stephen Stills.) Gathered together in one place for the first time, these songs make a case for Collins as a songwriter with an individual, highly personal style. The case for her as a singer has been made long since, and this album simply demonstrates that, in her mid-fifties, she still had it. (The title song, newly written at the time the album was first released, is a call to help the children of war-torn places around the world, an appropriate statement for the singer, a UNICEF spokesperson.)

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