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One-sided romance and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes Print-ready version

by Ritchie Yorke
Toronto Globe and Mail
October 9, 1969
Original article: PDF

Lacy lilting lady, losing love lamenting,
Change my life, make it right,
Be my lady.

So goes the final verse of a currently popular song called Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The song was written and is sung by Stephen Stills, former member of the Buffalo Springfield.

Stills, a sensitive, quietly spoken young man from the South, is deeply in love with Judy Collins, to whom the Suite is dedicated. Trouble is that while Judy - who arrives in Toronto tomorrow for a concert at Massey Hall - reportedly shares in the affection, she isn't prepared to abandon her booming career to become his lady at that huge house he rents in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

It's rather a touching story, all the more so because romance is not common in pop. Lulu marrying Robin Gibb was probably the rockiest romance of 1969. Yet there is another love affair in the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young clan - Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash have quite a thing going.

And it was Joni who wrote Judy's biggest hit, Both Sides Now, an amazingly mature tale of the other side of love.

The song is probably more suited to being Judy's theme song, rather than just a song she got from another composer. Married at 18, Judy was divorced a few years later and lost custody of her son for five years. It left an indelible mark on her life and may account for her rejection of Stills.

Judy prefers not to talk about Stills these days, and predictably, devotes most of her interview time to her music, her writing, Joni Mitchell's songs and her concert program. Like other folk singers, she is eminently aware of the importance of good song material, which is usually harder to find than a golf ball in the rough.

"I have lots of new songs offered to me every week," she said. "I can generally tell by reading the lyrics once or twice whether it is worth exploring.

"I sing a lot of Joni Mitchell's songs because I like them immensely. There doesn't seem to be anybody quite as good. Her lyrics are exquisite."

She has nine albums on the market, and although they've done well, Judy is not in the sales heavyweight class of say, an Aretha Franklin. Most of her following comes from several years on the one-nighter circuit.

"Most of my stage repertoire is from the last two or three albums. There aren't many things I can still stand to do after three or four years. I don't play the older ones because they aren't enough a part of me. Suzanne is an exception, but there aren't many songs like that.

"Music means a great deal to me. It filled a gap that had to be filled. Music is secure. I know about it," she summed up.

Yet, as Stills so eloquently points out in Suite: Judy Blue Eyes:

I've got an answer,
I'm going to fly away.
What have I got to lose?
Will you come see me Thursdays and Saturdays?
What have you got to lose?

One thing is obvious about Johnny Winter, the albino blues guitarist: regardless of his virtuoso playing, he could have found fame on his charisma alone.

At Massey Hall last night (where he performed two shows to a total of more than 3,000 fans) you couldn't take your eyes off him. Decked out in a dapper black, crushed velvet frockcoat, black turtleneck, lilac velvet trousers, his foot-long ghost-like hair brushing a silver chain around his neck, he took the audience by storm.

He was greatly helped by his brother, Edgar, a short-haired albino, who came on late in the act but drew a standing ovation with his first number, Tobacco Road.

The combination of Johnny's stylish but pre-blues guitar picking and brother Edgar's versatility on electric piano, organ and sax (not to mention his fierce voice) was a memorable experience.

Most of Johnny's repertoire was from his first album (on Columbia) and his latest, Second Winter. The encore, Johnny B. Goode, was particularly good.

In the face of such opposition, the local groups on the bill had a tough task.

Nevertheless, Whiskey Howl offered a strong, well-planned set which went down well.

Humble Sponge, which opened the show, suffered from a lack of tightness essential to a blues band. Also, its drummer lacked imagination and its singer was in danger of losing his voice by rasping away his vocal cords.

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