“I love you,” Judy Collins, a vision in white from mane to silvery toe, shouted out to Clive Davis, and to everyone present at the Café Carlyle for opening night of her enchanting show. She calls the evening “A Love Letter to Sondheim,” but her range of feeling, and vocals, encompasses all, even in her finale, “Send in the Clowns,” which she introduces with a most subtle political jab, “we know where the clowns really are.”
Her own composition, “Maria,” a nod to West Side Story, reminds her, “This land was made by dreamers.” Of course her career spans lots of political moments, as she knew Dylan, Stephen Stills, and Leonard Cohen. When she sings his “Suzanne,” her crystalline voice fills the room, and out pour memories of his coming to her with material because he knew she could sell a song: “What can I tell you about Leonard Cohen?” Her friend brought him to her, saying, “His poetry is obscure. He’s never going to go anywhere.” But, says Judy, he was the smartest one. He died the morning of the election.
We were all humming Sondheim at show’s end. “Isn’t it rich?” Indeed it is.