And here’s a repost that was originally written May 13, 2017. It appears as/is.
I have loved Judy Collins’ beautiful music since I was about 18 years old. She’s recorded so many beautiful songs over the years and inspired others as well. Although I knew she’d had trouble with alcohol and eating disorders, I didn’t know the extent of her problems until I picked up her latest book, Cravings: How I Conquered Food.
Published on February 28, 2017, Cravings offers readers insight into what may have caused Judy Collins’ issues with booze and food. Collins’ theories may also be helpful to other readers. The book is also about Judy Collins’ life, so if you read it, it helps to also be interested in her life story. I suspect a lot of younger people may not be fans of Judy Collins’ music, although I think they should be. I should also mention that this is the first book I’ve read by Judy Collins, so I wasn’t perturbed to read about her life. Others who have read her earlier memoirs might feel like parts of this book are reruns.
Collins writes that when she was growing up, she loved all things made of flour, sugar, wheat, and corn. She was addicted to sugar and would eat sweet things constantly. That sugar obsession later turned to unsightly pounds and a neverending compulsion to eat more. She eventually went on to become bulimic and would binge and purge to the point of developing a vocal cord hemangioma. It almost destroyed her voice.
As she got older, Collins took up drinking and smoking. She became an alcoholic and, for many years, would even drink heavily before and after taking the stage. Although she indulged in self-destructive behavior, Collins somehow knew that what she was doing was dangerous. She sought help from doctors, most of whom told her she didn’t have a problem.
Eventually, Collins realized that there was a link between her cravings for sugar, flour, wheat, and corn and her addiction to alcohol. She eliminated the problem foods from her diet and adopted what looks to me to be a paleo diet. She says now her weight is stable and she know longer has such intense cravings for unhealthy foods or booze. She also credits spending time in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and employing the Grey Sheet Diet Plan for helping her to stop the insanity.
Aside from explaining her secrets to eating and drinking success, Collins writes about her son, Clark Taylor, who sadly died after committing suicide. Collins herself attempted suicide, although she doesn’t delve too much into her experiences with suicidal ideation. Before he passed, Clark fathered Judy Collins’ only grandchild, Hollis, who is now herself a mother. I enjoyed reading about Judy’s family and can tell that she loves them very much. She writes that not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about and miss her son.
I also enjoyed reading about Collins’ musical training. Originally, she was trained as a pianist and she studied great and challenging classical works. I never knew Judy Collins was once being groomed for the classical music world. As she became a teenager, she was lured into folk music. She picked up a guitar, learned how to play, and began to sing. I was astonished to read that she once had a very limited vocal range. Work with an excellent voice teacher eventually stretched her range to about three octaves, quite respectable for a singer. I have always liked her voice for its ethereal quality. I think my own style is kind of like hers.
Anyway… I thought Cravings was well-written and engaging. It didn’t take forever to finish. Because I haven’t read Collins’ other books, the material and new for me. It’s also relevant for me personally on many levels. I liked that she drew in interesting examples from history to backup her theories about diet, drinking, and health. I learned something new in those passages. And, given that Judy was born in 1939 and is still making albums and writing books, I figure she must be doing something right. I recommend her book to those who are thinking about reading it.
As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.
Today is Bill’s birthday. I already gave him some of his presents on Monday and Tuesday, because they came from Amazon and I have no birthday themed wrapping paper. Monday, I presented him with a book about the art of Carl Jung. Bill loves art, and he’s fascinated by Jung, so I figured it would be perfect.
But then I noticed that Jung’s seven volume set called The Black Books were also for sale. I had already given Bill a copy of Jung’s Red Book on request about eleven years ago. TheRed Book was basically a refined and condensed version of The Black Books. It’s just one large volume. He left that book in storage because it’s so big, and we had precious little room for extra stuff when we moved to Germany. Bill’s first company only gave him enough money to ship 5000 pounds. Good thing we don’t have kids.
When Bill saw the Jung books, he got all teary. He came upstairs to my office and thanked me. I turned around and he was wiping tears from his eyes, holding the funny t-shirt I also got for him. This was obviously a good gift… especially since he’s also been undergoing Jungian analysis with an American who lives in Berlin and is being trained in Switzerland.
I’ve been bugging Bill to see a therapist for years, not just because he has a lot of trauma to unpack, but because I know from personal experience that undergoing psychotherapy can be a wonderful healing process. It helped me immensely and changed me in so many positive ways. I came to view it as something I did for myself– a form of personal care– like some people get manicures, massages, or have their hair professionally coifed. I thought Bill would see it the same way. Fortunately, he does. Every week, he tells me about new things he’s discovered about himself through dream analysis and art therapy. He and the therapist have a good rapport. It really helps that Bill knows about Jung, since the therapist specializes in the Jungian approach. I’m sure a lot of the therapist’s clients are just looking for someone to talk to. He’s told Bill that he appreciates having a client who understands the Jungian approach. I think they both get a lot out of the work they’re doing.
I wish people wouldn’t think of therapy as a negative thing for “crazy” people or people who are troubled. It’s useful for anyone. Bill is a very functional person who keeps things together very well. But I know that talking to someone other than me is helpful for him. He’s gaining a lot of personal insight that I think will make him a better person… certainly a happier person. He deserves that, as most of us do. I think he appreciates the support, too. On another note, I love that Bill is so smart, and so interested in topics like Carl Jung. He teaches me so much… and every time he talks about art and Jung and other deep subjects, I thank God I married him, instead of some guy who just wants to drink cheap beer and watch football. Not that there’s anything wrong with cheap beer and football– more that a guy like Bill is more my speed.
As a joke, I was also going to give Bill the above pictured baseball cap with Mister Rogers giving the finger. I did order it, but I think when that hat comes in, I’ll just keep it for myself. I doubt Bill would want to wear it, even though he’d think it was funny. He’s getting one more book, which is arriving tomorrow. It’s not about Jung or bartending. We’ll probably also make a cherry cheese pie or Bill’s favorite chocolate blackout cake, which I’ve made for him many times over the years. The cake is fantastic, but it takes us forever to eat it, and it’s probably better for the cooler months.
The tears continued after the gift exchange. This time, they came from someone other than Bill.
Yesterday, I was invited to an online memorial service for my old Peace Corps friend, Matt, who died in New York City in May. Some readers might remember that I wrote about Matt when he was killed. Since I live in Germany and, until yesterday, wasn’t in the club, I missed Matt’s first memorial service. Now they’re doing another one for his many friends worldwide. I was asked to sing a song at the event. That doesn’t surprise me, since I was well known for singing in the Peace Corps. I sent a couple of videos to the person who is arranging the event, asking him which song he thought would be most appropriate for the memorial.
The songs I chose were “In My Life” (in the style of Judy Collins) and “Imagine” (as done by Eva Cassidy). I started with “In My Life”, since it’s not known as an atheist anthem and is very accessible to a lot of people. I remember Matt had once told me he was raised Lutheran, but I didn’t know if the religion stuck, although I doubt it did. I also don’t know if any of his relatives are religious. But then I sent “Imagine”, since I do that one well, and it’s popular and very Peace Corps friendly. The guy arranging the event said “Imagine” made him cry, and expressed preference for that one. He says he’ll check with Matt’s cousin to see if he thinks it’s appropriate. If the cousin likes it, that’s the one I’ll probably do… and hope I don’t cry, either.
Once we started talking about it, it occurred to me that Eva Cassidy also died too young… and became famous after her death. I feel like that kind of happened to Matt, too. He was in the news after his death, because he was so beloved by his community and because the accident he suffered was so incredibly senseless and tragic. Eva also died in 1996, when we were in Armenia. Also, my sister knew Eva because they worked in a restaurant together in the early 90s. My sister waited tables and Eva played there. Or, at least that’s what my sister claims. I think it’s possible she’s telling the truth. She’s lived in the DC area for years, and often made extra money waiting tables, even though she had a regular “day job”.
And now that I think more about it, John Lennon also died much too young. He also died in New York City, as Matt also did. So while “Imagine” might seem a little too “Godless” for some people, I think it might be perfect for Matt. I don’t think he was really that into religion, although I really don’t know how he felt about God. My guess is that someone who exclaims “Christ on the cross!” in annoyance is not too worried about blasphemy. 😉 I’m not being critical about it, either, because I’m not all that religious myself. “Imagine” is a song written by a man who was a bright, shining star. He gave the world so much in his 40 years. And it was “reborn” by another bright shining star, who also gave so much before she died too young. It seems perfect for Matt, who was a shining star and inspiration to so many people– especially the many young people he taught.
Then this morning, I got an email from a complete stranger who found a video I made several years ago of the song, “On Heaven’s Bright Shore.” I couldn’t find accompaniment for that song, but I really wanted to try it. So I decided to sing it acapella. I coupled the acapella singing with pictures of clouds, mostly taken from airplanes. A lot of people have played it– or, a lot for my channel, at least. I would like to redo it with guitar, once I get better at playing. I make progress every day, but I’m still not quite ready for prime time.
The person who emailed me wrote that his son had just died and he wanted to play an acapella version of “On Heaven’s Bright Shore” at his memorial. He said my version seemed to be the best. So he was kindly asking for permission to play my version, and wondering if I required payment. Of course I wrote back that he’s welcome to use the video, free of charge. I thanked him for asking me and expressed condolences for the loss of his son. It’s quite an honor that someone would want to play my version of that song at a memorial service, and it was so kind of the guy to ask me if I minded.
I was pretty surprised to get that email. I have some videos that have as few as four views! I don’t really promote my videos much. They’re mostly just songs I want to try. I get better recording results on YouTube than I do SingSnap, so that’s why I make the videos. But I don’t really have a rhyme or reason as to when I do the songs. I mainly just make videos when I need to for a blog post or when I’m inspired to try something. I have also done a couple by request. Not all of the videos are musical. Some are raw footage from travels– memories I want to preserve– or they’re videos featuring my dogs. I admire people who make successful YouTube channels, but I’m not very comfortable on camera, and I don’t want to deal with hostile comments. So I mostly just stick to blogging.
Bill and I were talking over breakfast and I was laughing about how I have such a raunchy sense of humor, tendency for depression, appreciation for profanity, and great love for obnoxiousness, yet somehow I wound up with this very sweet singing voice. The other day, I was practicing guitar and I asked Bill if he noticed I was getting better at barre chords. He said he didn’t know which chords I was playing, which I would not have expected. But then he said, “You were singing along, too.” And I said, “No, baby, that was Linda Ronstadt. But thank you very much for the compliment.” I’m not quite ready to sing and play at the same time. That’s like walking and chewing gum.
Anyway… I’m hoping the song goes off well. I have a feeling the memorial will be moving and fun. Matt was a special person, and I’m sure there are a lot of stories to be told, as well as songs to be sung. He had a lot of friends around the world and I think a lot of them will come together for this.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.