Judy Collins Talks About Bob Dylan And Leonard Cohen, Also Covers Joan Baez

Judy Collins on Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen

At the July 26, 2009 Folks on the Island concert on Governor’s Island, Judy Collins recalls some of her early experiences in the folk-singing community, including her first meetings with Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

Judy Collins Sings Diamonds and Rust

While most of the folk songs Collins performed at this concert were those with special connections to her, “Diamonds and Rust” is a Joan Baez song released in 1975 which deals with the romantic relationship between Baez and Bob Dylan.

The frame of  “Diamonds and Rust” is an unexpected phone call from the singer’s lover of 10 years ago. The lyrics of the second verse include these lines:

My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

And the final verse reads,

Now you’re telling me
You’re not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because I need some of that vagueness now
It’s all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid

For her 1995 performance of the song as a duet with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Baez changed the end lines,

And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid


And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
Well, I’ll take the diamonds1

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Videos: Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins On His Singing Debut & Suzanne

judylenHow Judy Collins Helped Leonard Cohen Start His Singer-Songwriter Career

Judy Collins – Interviewed By Bill Moyers About Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne”

Judy Collins praises Cohen’s lyricism and outlines the religious inflections of his work.  She also sings “Suzanne.”

Leonard Cohen Interviewed About Judy Collins and “Suzanne”

In this video Cohen reports on the reason for his “mad decision” to “rectify [his] economic situation” by  shifting from writing poems and novels to writing and singing songs, his first meeting with Judy Collins, and his anxiety about being a singer rather than focusing exclusively on songwriting:

I remember saying to my lawyer who was accompanying me there [NYC]. In a state of panic, I said ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here; I can’t sing,’ and he said, ‘None of you guys can sing. When I want to hear singers, I go the Metropolitan Opera.’

And I think that’s more or less the position I had anyway. I never thought we were singers. I certainly never had any musical standards to tyrannize me. I thought it was something to do with the truth, that if you told your story, that’s what the song was about.

The video also includes the account by Judy Collins on Cohen’s near-catastrophic public singing debut at New York’s Town Hall and Cohen singing “Suzanne.”

Leonard Cohen photo from York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, Photographer: John Sharp, Identifiers: ASC01707. Judy Collins photo by ABC Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain via Wikipedia Commons

Note: Originally posted July 10, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Classic Video: Leonard Cohen & Judy Collins Perform Suzanne – 1976

lc-jcollins-suzanneAnd you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind

Leonard Cohen & Judy Collins – Suzanne
1976 Soundstage TV Broadcast: Chicago
Video by Beta Hi-Fi Archive

Note: Originally posted Feb 17, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Judy Collins Performs Suzanne At Grammys Premiere In Honor Of Leonard Cohen

Judy Collins, whose early recordings of Leonard Cohen’s music first introduced the Canadian singer-songwriter to a wide audience, paid tribute to her fellow worker in song at the 59th GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony on Feb. 12, 2017 with a gorgeous cover of Suzanne that earned a standing ovation.

Video: Judy Collins Talks About Meeting Leonard Cohen & His Walking Off The Stage At His First Performance

judtcJudy Collins to Leonard Cohen after hearing him play Suzanne:

You can play the guitar very well … I’ve heard worse. You can sing very nicely; I’ve heard much worse … And that [Suzanne] is a song – and I’m recording it tomorrow.

Originally broadcast on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (CBC TV)

Note: Originally posted December 12, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric