Judy Collins and Stephens Stills briefly dated in the late 1960s, though their relationship has endured through song. Stills' "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" has become a staple of classic rock radio and one of his quintessential compositions. Though the two had bumped into each other occasionally, they'd never found time to do sustained work until 2017.
With Stills' regular gig in Crosby, Stills & Nash on indefinite hiatus (Crosby and Nash might insist that it's over for good), he and Collins began discussing collaborating both in the studio and on the stage.
They issued their debut album, Everybody Knows, last September and embarked on a successful concert tour late in the summer of 2017. The pair will perform at Wichita's Orpheum Theatre Friday, Sept. 21.
Collins recently spoke about her working relationship with Stills and much more.
Last year you started off doing a handful of dates. Now it's expanded into a new year. It must have been a pretty successful run and seemingly an enjoyable one.
We did 50 shows last year and we've done 29 so far this year. We'll end up with 50 more, so we'll have done 100 concerts in the first two years. That's pretty good.
That's something that, at a certain point, was maybe unthinkable for the two of you or something you hadn't considered.
The years went by, nobody brought it up, it wasn't an idea that was floating around. I think a couple of things happened: He was having fewer [Crosby, Stills & Nash] shows and I think they stopped doing that at the end of 2016. So his schedule opened up and mine was always inevitably geared toward doing concerts that I wanted to do. We just decided that it was time. The main thing we did was put together some of the songs for our album. I had recorded one song with him about five years ago.
I guess that told us that we could sing together still. Then, we began to try ideas back and forth through the Internet and figure out what kind of songs we might sing. We wound up with a pretty tidy group and then we started recording at the start of 2017. They sounded awfully good, so we figured, "Let's continue. Let's get this together." So those dates were easily organized by my agent and my manager. We think it's a good choice. Glad we made it!
On the record you made with Stephen last year you have the song, "River Of Gold" and that's a new one for you.
I sent it to him with no particular expectations because he's a great songwriter himself. I didn't know what he would say. He loved it and said, "Let's do it." So we're having fun doing it.
You also have "Everybody Knows," written by Leonard Cohen, and he was someone who encouraged your writing early on.
I'm so lucky that he asked me, after I first started recording his songs, he said, ‘I love it, you're making me famous but why aren't you writing your own songs?' I had no answer, so I went home and the first song I wrote was "Since You've Asked." From there, I started writing a lot. I write even more today than I did then.
That's an incredibly generous thing for him to have done, to say, ‘Come on and compete with me.'
Absolutely. He was a great man. No doubt. He was not only my friend and very inspiring in all the ways that he was through his writing and persona, he was also very generous. I don't think he ever gave an interview where he didn't talk about my having discovered him and recorded him. Most people will come in, play you a song, race out your door and then you'll never hear from them again. That was not Leonard.
You and Stephen have done this record and a number of dates with more on the way. Does this seem like something you hope to continue beyond the end of this year?
I think so. We're talking about really sitting down and doing some writing together, which I think would be fun. I think it's something we'll return to. It's very workable and it makes us both happy and we love it.