Judy’s Melancholy Sondheim (Music Thoughts, A Love Letter To Sondheim, Judy Collins)

61p6urJ+11LJudy Collins is of course no stranger to Sondheim. Her version of ‘Send In The Clowns’ garnered Sondheim his first chart hit, although Sondheim once said if he had known that the song would be such a ‘hit,’ he would not have written it. But here we are years later, and Collins is finally releasing an all-Sondheim album. And it is truly one of the most wonderful things in the world right now. I have listened to it incessantly – early in the morning, while working, even while on the elliptical at the gym. I cannot get enough of it. The greatest thing about it? She knows how to interpret a Sondheim lyric. If you are going to sing his songs, then you better know what you are singing about. She knows the right pauses, the internal rhymes, the word imagery. And she sings with an inimitable personal style – a mix of knowing melancholy. There’s a fine strain of sadness there that is unique and just hers. My favorites: a guarded ‘Not While I’m Around,’ a misty ‘Not A Day Goes By,’ a character-driven ‘Liaison.’  Her ‘Move On’ has a determination I don’t think I have ever heard before. This is required listening not only for Sondheim or theater folks, but for everyone.

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