Whether platonic or romantic, long-lasting relationships can enrich a life. We should all be so lucky as to have one. But sometimes, the very stuff that makes them beautiful can also make them insufferable. On the plus side, the person knows you better than anyone else, and on the down side, the person knows you better than anyone else.
Folk-singer Judy Collins first met musician Stephen Stills in the late ’60s. After a tumultuous love affair —the fall-out of which begat one of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s biggest hits, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” — the Laurel Canyon legends remained close. “We were great friends,” Collins tells me over the phone. “We liked each other’s music, even then.”
Over the years, the pair dabbled with playing music together. “We once recorded a song of Tom Paxton’s together,” Collins says. But it took until 2017 for the friends to release their first full-length collaboration, Everybody Knows. The album features cover versions of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan classics, as well as original compositions from Collins and Stills. Live onstage, the duo share stories while playing familiar favorites as well as some new tunes, such as “Judy” and “River of Maria.”
I ask Collins, who is now 78, if there’s any downside to working creatively with a friend of over five decades. “It’s very easy,” she says. “All of the good sides of knowing each other have shown up, none of the downsides. Musically, we know each other well — well enough to get each other’s jokes.” ■