In the 1960’s Stephen Stills of the folk-rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, after appearing in Buffalo Springfield, had a brief romantic affair with folk singer Judy Collins to whom he wrote the famous song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” for. Now 50 years later they are touring together.
Stephen is now 72 years old and has been married three times and has seven grown children. His current wife is 51. In a 1971 interview in Rolling Stone, the interviewer noted: “so many of your songs seem to be about Judy Collins.” Stills replied, “Well, there are three things men can do with women: love them, suffer for them, or turn them into literature. I’ve had my share of success and failure at all three.”
Judy is now 78 and has been married twice. She divorced her first husband many years ago and in April 1996, she married designer Louis Nelson, whom she had been seeing since 1979 who is now 81. They live in Manhattan in New York City. She had one son who committed suicide from drugs and depression and having suffered from depression and drugs herself mostly alcohol like her father in the past, Judy today is an activist for suicide prevention. She’s been clean since 1978. She’s known for her signature song “Both Sides Now,” “Someday Soon” ‘Send in the Clowns” and “Chelsea Morning” and has appeared and sung with every major folk singer such as the late Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Arlo Guthrie and the Byrds.
The last time I saw Stephen Stills was about 18 years ago when CSN&Y regrouped for a while. I have seen Judy about seven times over the last 20 years and she’s always a joy to see and listen to with her angelic voice that rings clear as a bell.
Friday night’s concert in Englewood, N.J was a joyous and entertaining one. Judy came out in her usual trademark black sequined pants suit and said, “As you know Stephen and I have known each other for a long, long time. This tour is like couple’s therapy for us” Backed by piano played by her longtime music arranger and drums and guitar they lit into several of their known songs as well as more obscure songs from their albums and Judy and Stephen’s new album together.
The songs ranged from Judy’s crystal clear, haunting melodic songs and voice to Stephan’s versatile rock and roll guitar solos. Stephen told of once being on tour in Minnesota in the middle of February, “You know you’re a failure when you’re on tour in Minnesota in February,” Stephen said, “It was like the opening scene in the movie ‘Fargo’. He then recalled seeing a sign for Hibbing, Minn. and knew that’s where Bob Dylan was from. He and Judy then went into a romantic duet version of Dylan’s song, “Girl From the North Country.”
Stephen said he and Judy had a brief affair in the 60’s and remained good friends ever since. He said the reason they have been in touch so long is because they married other people.
Judy then went into her signature song “Both Sides Now.” I’ve heard Judy do this every time I’ve seen her and this is one of the best versions I’ve heard her do it. She then told of meeting a woman named Marianne and she said she was Leonard Cohen’s wife who Leonard wrote ‘Suzanne” for. Judy then did “Suzanne” and her voice was so pure and sterling and haunting with just her in a spotlight that it sent shivers through you and you could hear a pin drop.
Judy then told how she met the Clintons in 1991 and they told her they named her daughter after her song “Chelsea Morning.” She thanked them and then said she later learned they told Joni Mitchell the same thing. Mitchell made Chelsea Morning into a hit also. She then did “Chelsea Morning.”
Stephen then roused the crowd up with a really rocking version of his hit from the Buffalo Springfield days “For What it’s Worth” which got everyone singing along.
The concert ended with them doing “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” but just an extended version of the chorus which got everyone up and dancing.
It was a joyous and uplifting concert. Be sure to check them out if they come to a city near you. They are scheduled for Nevada and Calif. from Oct.21 to Nov. 3rd.