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Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  926 ratings  ·  161 reviews
A vivid, highly evocative memoir of one of the reigning icons of folk music, highlighting the decade of the ’60s, when hits like “Both Sides Now” catapulted her to international fame.
Sweet Judy Blue Eyes is the deeply personal, honest, and revealing memoir of folk legend and relentlessly creative spirit Judy Collins. In it, she talks about her alcoholism, her lasting lo/>Sweet
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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 ·  926 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Bob Mustin
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book begins and ends with Stephen Stills, one of Collins' lovers during the `sixties; certainly a tryst that remains most vivid in her mind. And in between she tells us of her youth in Colorado, her family, including her talented, blind father, and her attraction to folk music. She chronicles her ailments: polio, and a growing depression that resulted in an early attempt at suicide.

But mostly the book is about her life within the music business of the `sixties and `seventies, he
Julie Christine
The opening notes are unmistakable. The sweet chords in E pour forth from Stephen Stills's guitar, sounding like early morning California sunshine feels: warm and flirtatious, dancing on an ocean breeze as it kisses you awake. It has always been one of my favorite songs. It never fails to transport me to a time I never knew, a place that now fades into American mythology: California, late 1960's. It is "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", first performed by Crosby, Stills and Nash on August 18, 1969 at Yasg ...more
Sylvia Stocker
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
When I was a kid I loved Judy Collins... probably I still would today, but I haven't listened to her music in a while. I credit my own ability to sing to listening to Collins and singing along with her records. I learned a lot that way.

This book is mostly a tour of who she met when, where she performed, what drugs people were using and who slept with whom, including her own long list of lovers. That part really didn't interest me. Actually it made me feel grateful, yet again, that I
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Incredible insight into the musicians she has known and her music.
martha Boyle
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was excellent-IF you love the folk music scene and love to read about the greats of the 1960s and 70s, as I do. Judy Collins knew everyone from Phil Ochs to (of course) Stephen Stills to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, all the while struggling with her personal demons of alcoholism and bulimia and her son's drug addiction. I’d like to add for those who felt she didn’t delve deep enough into her interior life and her son’s suicide, this is not her first or only book. Yes, she writes many stories he ...more
Jenny Brown
Apr 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Like so many others Judy Collins' music became the soundtrack to important moments in my young life. Her taste was superb and she introduced me to the work of other talented songwriters whose songs I performed years later during my own singing and songwriting career.

I honored her honesty in describing her life, knowing that there would be small-minded people who would read her story and judge, without having any clue what it was like to live and perform back in those days.

I remember
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, memoir
Listened to this driving around Ontario and back down to Maryland this week. Read by the author, whose voice was part of the soundtrack of my childhood. I was frustrated for the first few chapters that she was reading lyrics instead of singing them. around the seventh chapter she started singing snippets, which made me happy. and I hadn't read the box, so I didn't expect it when it turned out there were five songs at the end, all of which played important parts.
The book itself was well told. Sh
Bruce Hatton
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
In the first chapter there is an account of a Paul Williams gig at the Troubador in April 1968 where Judy Collins is sharing a table with Janis Joplin. Although the two women had only met once before and their musical styles and public personae could hardly be more different, they seemed to instinctively bond that night. At one stage Janis leans over and confides to Judy “One of us in going to make it. And it's not going to be me.” Chillingly prophetic. Of course, Janis only “made it” for anothe ...more
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
First I would like to say that this was a book I won via the Goodreads First Reads program - thank you to all involved.

I agree with several other reviewers who seemed to feel, at times, like I was reading a list of songs, songwriters and singers.

This is an honest account of a life spent, as most of us do, making decisions, mistakes and living the highs and lows of life. The book is written in an easy style, the reader will feel joy and sadness through out the book.
Oct 16, 2015 rated it liked it
There was a time when I listened to Judy Collins' records incessantly. Back before reality TV, YouTube and Wikipedia, my favorite artists' lives and loves and addictions were a mystery to me. I had no idea that the girl with the haunting voice was struggling with alcoholism and other problems. I enjoyed this chronicle of the folk era and the 60s & 70s. I still remember the first time I heard Both Sides Now and Suite Judy Blue Eyes.
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Eloquent autobiography by the great folk singer Judy Collins. What was so enjoyable about this book was being ale to use my iPhone to look up and listen to the array of folk, blues, jazz, and rock musicians with whom Judy sang with. Many of them were entirely unknown to me, like Barbara Dane. I have created a playlist that includes these singers, as well as some Judy songs I didn't own.

What was heart breaking was to me were the demons that haunted Judy for most of her young life; the main one b
Dec 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
1/3/12: I feel like Judy Collins' music is in my bones; her songs were the backdrop to my youth, and I can still sing every word of some of her weirdest pieces (Marat/Sade, anyone?). Her amazing voice and her poignant lyrics have endured for me, too; about three years ago, Mike and I heard her sing at the Carlyle in New York, and she hadn't sung but one line before I was crying--which I continued to do throughout her entire set. (Mike says I was sobbing audibly; I like to think I was a bit quiet ...more
Sally Wessely
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have always been fascinated by Judy Collins. She is a Colorado girl. When she broke on the music scene in my youth, it was during the heyday of folk music, and I loved folk music. While reading the book, sometimes, I got bogged down with the countless stories about the many musicians that were a part of her life and career. I found myself googling many of those with whom she worked. I then would watch them on YouTube. I even listened to her songs on YouTube while I read the book. I guess you c ...more
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
A birthday gift from my wife. I follow Judy Collins on Facebook. Her autobiography has been on my personal to-read list for months. I found the book on the shelf at a high-priced local bookstore in Taos, New Mexico in April, showed it to my wife, and she remembered. She searched two Barnes and Nobles bookstores in Skokie, IL the last week of April; not in stock. Finally, she ordered it on

Read the first few pages, and then skip to the Acknowledgements near the back of the b
Jan C
Mar 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, 2016
Grew up listening to Judy Collins, among others. Maybe one of the reasons I took up guitar as a youth. But, then, when I was a youth everyone took up guitar. Probably dreaming of lives as musicians like Judy Collins, Dylan, Phil Ochs or, finally, the Beatles.

She tells of her many loves, especially Stephen Stills, Stacy Keach, and finally her husband, Louis. Her many years in psychiatry, mostly with what I thought were closer analysts who were mainly interested in separating her from
Lucille DeRogatis
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon, autobiography
I learned a lot about the dark side of Judy Collins- the alcoholism, drugs, one night stands, etc. Some of the stuff I already knew, like her love affair with Stephen Stills and Suite Judy Blue eyes. I enjoyed reading about her early days in the Village, hanging out with Dylan, Pete Seeger, and all the other young folks trying to become Dylan and Pete Seeger. Also, her appearances at the Newport Folk Festival. I attended the festival back in the mid to late sixties and can attest to the vibe tha ...more
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I know she's written a couple biographies, but this one focuses on the music in her life. It was fascinating to hear how the albums came together, albums I have memorized listening to them so many times even though most of my favorites were all recorded before I was born. It's amazing she recorded many of them snockered...and it's amazing how--um, free she was with her favours.

It was fantastic to hear her read it & the songs included at the end made me cry after hearing the
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
A certain lack of balance kept me from loving this one. I wish Judy Collins had spent less time on Stephen Stills. I think her husband of 30 years got about two paragraphs while Stills is featured throughout, perhaps a decision to please fans. Notations like "Around this time I became bulimic and it took me 10 years to overcome that" along with descriptions throughout of her alcoholic life, drinks of choice, etc. The best parts of the book by far were her impressions of Dylan, Baez, and other gr ...more
Francie J
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

That's the book in a nutshell: she reveals herself, and with great self-awareness. This book took me longer to read than almost any other; I had to stop and Google songs and people -- some long forgotten and some never known. I'm 67, so it brought back so many moments of my life. I honestly think that even if you have absolutely no idea who Judy Collins is, you will enjoy meeting her, and seeing how a generation (well, 1/2 -- there was the 'other side') lived and made the choices they d
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Liked the first few chapters, but it's getting boring going from club to club, concert to concert. I'm amazed at how easy it was for her to give up her baby to go on the road. I'll get back to this book again, eventually, but have walked away for more compelling reads.

Finally finished it and all I can say is, I liked her better when I knew less about her. I applaud her honesty and courage (finally!) when facing her demons, but she's not someone I would choose to work with or invite to my book c
Kurt Reighley
Oct 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I read an advance of this in preparation for an interview with Ms. Collins. I've not read her other autobiographies and memoirs, so I'm not sure how this one compares (or if there is significant overlap), but as a mouth-breathing music geek I appreciated how much context she created, discussing the contributions and music of her many, many peers (from Phil Ochs to the Staple Singers) throughout this quick and piquant read.
Tabitha Vohn
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: being-nosy
Heartbreaking and Inspirational.

I love Judy Collins music. Seriously, I have the vinyls, and they soothe my soul. What a surprise them to discover she's lived such a turbulent life, but ultimately, a triumphant one.

As with all memoirs from this time period, I enjoy snooping into the lives of these iconic musicians who revolutionized the industry and the country. Collins recollects it with whimsical beauty and sincerity.

Well worth the read!
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
Hmm, another alcoholic music star memoir. Vaguely interesting as a history of the 60's though how she can possibly recall all she does after all the booze she consumed is questionable. I love her singing, the book? Not so much.
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-book
She writes songs better than a novel, but she lead an interesting life.

I love that it was easier for her to mention that she had NOT slept with someone than include all of her lovers.
Feb 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
couldn't finish it. poorly written. it could be so interesting and instead it was boring and blah-blah-blah
Jul 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
This was poorly organized, more chronological than memoir, with too much information and unimportant details crammed in.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have already read some autobiographical work by Judy Collins. Somewhere in my books collection is her first volume "Trust Your Heart" and I even might have "Singing Lessons" which didn't stop me from reading this title. Not that it brings anything radically different - her life story is now firmly established as a part of public consciousness, part of our collective memory, perhaps even part of the history (in a sense that every piece of puzzle is of great importance to a complete picture) - b ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies
As a baby boomer I enjoyed reading about the music scene of the 60's, taking a walk down memory lane. I enjoyed hearing about the musicians, the writers, and so many behind-the-scenes people that made the music happen. I found myself pulling up youtube clips of the music and thinking that maybe I'd like to finally make a playlist, for me.

Judy gives a glimpse into her family life-- her celebrity father who lost his sight at an early age growing up in rural Idaho, her marriages and rom
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fifty years ago in 1968 I saved babysitting money and walked uptown to F.W. Woolworths to buy a 45 record of Judy Collins 'Both Sides Now.' For 50 years the legendary Judy Collins continues to amaze me with her pitch-perfect voice and collections of timeless folk songs.

In 'Sweet Judy Blue Eyes', Ms. Collins tells us "There are no accidents in memory for memory has its own reason and its own logic. What I remember is what happened to me as I best recall it."

Much of her recollection w
Monsieur Rick Blaine
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
At the time I lived her music I now have such fond recollections of those songs and was thrilled to see her own memoir detailing those times. And detail it did! Particularly her times with Stephen Stills (of Crosby Stills Nash and Young & earlier Buffalo Springfield). After all, the song Suite: Judy Blue Eyes was written for her by Stephen.

After some 6 months the reading and details are pretty foggy for me now. But I made it through the book with no problem and would recommend it
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Reading Along Wit...: Judy Collins: "Sweet Judy Blue Eyes" 1 3 Dec 25, 2015 06:32AM  

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Judith Marjorie Collins is an American folk and standards singer and songwriter, known for the stunning purity of her soprano; for her eclectic tastes in the material she records (which has included folk, showtunes, pop, and rock and roll); and for her social activism.