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The Night I Saw Judy Collins' Hair


Judy Collins, probably in California, on, no it's not a bike it's a Ducati

Judy Collins performing at the Empire Theatre in Belleville, Ontario, December 9, 2008


(It's getting to the point)

So it was one of those days when I should have bought a lottery ticket, things were going swimingly all day.

(you are mine, I am yours, you are what you are)

Yesterday my mother had pointed out that Judy Collins was playing in Belleville at the Empire Theater. The only song I can play on the Guitar is Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.

Well that's not actually true, my involvement with guitar is transitory. I bought one when I moved to LA in 1979, and a few songbooks, played for 2 years then never touched it. I gave that guitar to my sons. In 2005 I picked it up again on a friends borrowed guitar, played for about a year, learned a few new songs, then never touched it again. Picked it up again in 2007 with a new guitar, you get the picture. But one day 6 mos before the event described herein I looked at the chords to my favorite song of all time, the one I fell in love with from Woodstock (The movie. I was 12.) reinforced by the sound of 3 people in my High School doing an impromptu and flawless rendition of it one day in 1975. The chords looked scary but I tried it anyway. And it sorta worked. So I kept playing it over and over again, for 6 months solid non-stop.

That she was in town at this time was kinda freaky. I thought she was dead or something, that she was touring was news. That she was in this backwater burg even more so.

I decided she was going to sign my guitar. I set out on the errands I had to so and ended up picking up my daughter Caitlin at around 9:20 or so. We were supposed to get hot chocolate and groceries.

Now at this point you need to consider the fact that Judy Collins was my mums favorite singer, pretty much ever, and one of Cait's favorite songs of all time is her "Both sides now". My mothers father was a miner and he actually did say they'd live in France. So that song in that so rare voice has a very special meaning in this family.

So, I pick Cait up and as we're walking to the car I say "Judy Collins is playing at the Empire, we're gonna hang out at the back stage entrance and get her to sign my guitar. Cait exploded and began running to the car, as did I.

We drive around a bit till I actually find the backstage entrance to the Empire.

There was a white limo waiting there. The back door opens. I get out of my car and start walking toward the door.

Cait is following me. Judy Collins walks the 3 feet from the Theatre back door to the limo. We see her hair and part of her nose. I yell out "Judy!" and she looks at me.

Her eyes are not normal and frozen in that instant staring at those unbelievably blue and alien looking eyes time just stops. She quickly turns away and gets in her car kinda smiling, reassured she still has deranged admirers.

(I've got an answer...)

The guy by the door says "You can't talk to her" and I said that's ok and just look at her in the back of the car. She tried not to look at me about as hard as I tried not to stare at a woman I've been secretly in love with since I was 12. The prototypical hippie chick and she's all mine for a femtosecond on a dark and rainy night in a Belleville back alley. Crosby, Stills and Nash are nowhere around. They're busy I guess; I'm not.

Cait was 6' away, too nervous, I called her closer gleefully and pointed saying "it's her, it's her" and Cait kinda giggled and waved to her in the limo while Ms. Collins tried to look noplussed but I saw the look of recognition in each others faces are they realized they were as looking in a mirror. The resemblance is uncanny and everybody there got that.

(I'm going to fly away...)

The car slowly pulled away and we just stood there two fingers up in a peace sign in a shaggy full length sheepskin coat in the rain as if to say "I remember woodstock, peace, light and love"

And then she was gone.

(What have you got to lose?)

I don't think Cait or I will ever forget the night we saw Judy Collins' hair.

Richard Sexton, Empire Theatre,
Belleville Ontario, Dec 9 2008


Cait, circa 2006