Judy Collins Says Protesting "Often Leads to Dancing"
But what about the emotional circumstances? Was that difficult to deal with? Did you reopen old wounds?
I think when you go through it... If you're a writer like I am, it didn't happen if you don't write about it, and I've already written a lot about those issues. So journal keeping has kept a lot of that drama under some kind of control. They say you can't be a drunk if you can play a drunk onstage, and I think that's true for your writing too. I do think there's a certain amount of resolve in these issues as you go through life, so you're not reliving them, really, you're telling about them and storytelling is very different from living through them.
When you started writing original songs did you feel at all intimidated by the high bar that had been set by the material you had previously covered?
No, no, not at all. I never thought of doing it before but it wasn't intimidating because I wasn't going to put anything on a record that I didn't feel was up to the mark. Well, there was one song that wasn't up to the mark, and it did make it to the first record, but it didn't survive past that particular recording. (laughs) But no, you can't feel competitive about that sort of thing.
At this point, you're still performing 100 concerts a year. Given the emotional content of your material, can you still find that emotional connection in these songs during every show?
No, you can't do that. The actress Mary Pickford once said she could do a grocery list while she was acting a part in a movie because she's gone through it, she knows what it is, she's been there, she's emotionally taken that journey. So no, again, you can't play a drunk and actually be a drunk.
Do you see a connection between the folk scene of the '50s and '60s and the sort of folk music revival people like Ollabelle and Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsome are championing today? Or more specifically, the student protests of the '60s and populist uprisings like the Occupy movement of today?
Oh, yes. Social activism isn't just a revival of what happened in the '60s. It's been going on for decades. There have just been different spikes. One of the first spikes was the union movement and Woody and Pete wrote a lot of songs for that movement and they participated in it. It was a time of social upheaval that happened with us and the same thing's happening now. But it's a natural kind of outcome; there's nothing particularly mysterious about it. People are getting fired up about issues finally, as well as the particular issues that are going on now. They're gathering and protesting and speaking out, and that often leads to dancing. (Laughs) So it's not an unnatural thing at all.
Judy Collins performs at 7 p.m., on Sunday, April 13, at the Emerson Center, 1590 27th Ave., Vero Beach. Ticket prices range from $42.50 to $97.50 for VIP seats (which include an invitation to a private meet-and-greet). Call 772-778-5249.