Singing Lessons: A Memoir of Love, Loss, Hope and Healing

Singing Lessons: A Memoir of Love, Loss, Hope and Healing

For the millions who know Judy Collins' unforgettable music, this remarkable memoir will come as no surprise. A moving account of growth and healing, memory and rebirth, dreams and meditations, this is Judy's heart statement, imbued with the introspection we love in her songs. From coping with every mother's greatest sorrow -- the loss of a child -- to the shock of seeing her companion of fifteen years nearly die, hers is a ballad of transformation in which some of life's worst tragedies lead to the discovery of a deeper love.

"Before I suffered a major catastrophe, I had no way of understanding the depth to which the soul is shaken, the exterior shattered, the interior made vulnerable and raw. Perhaps this is the way the wound works, to open us up so that we can feel and experience the depths, and having gone there, climb to heights we could never imagine...." It was the suicide of her son Clark in 1992 that signaled the slow dismantling of Judy's life, "the end of the world." But in its wake came a choice: to become another victim of the tragedy or to emerge victorious. Judy chose victory, freeing her heart to appreciate every precious moment of life, and see the gift of memory for the miracle it is.

With quiet grace and uncommon candor, Singing Lessons reveals some of those miracles -- Judy's memories of places, people, triumphs, and tragedies. From meeting Gloria Steinem and John F. Kennedy to dining with Bill and Hillary Clinton and spending an extraordinary night in the Lincoln bedroom; from recalling the lessons of her beloved music teacher of thirty-two years, Max Margulis, to reflecting on her marriage to Louis Nelson, lover and soulmate for twenty years; and from her fierce battles with her own demons to heartfelt remembrances of her son, Judy shares herself, in the sweet, clear voice that is as true as her music, with the insight her fans have come to know from her lyrics.

More than an intimate memoir, Singing Lessons is the triumph of a keenly observant, brilliantly gifted artist -- a deeply affecting and eloquently written journal of a woman determined to keep her heart open, her spirit intact, and all the elements of her life in harmony. It is the heart and soul of Judy Collins.
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  • Gallery Books | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416587736 | 
  • November 2007
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Nightfall

When I heard the news of my son's death, I was standing in the foyer of my apartment in New York among the paintings and the flowers and the photographs of my family, in the beautiful space I have called home for twenty-eight years. Louis was in Washington, D.C., making a presentation for the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall. He had called at six that evening, saying he would take the noon shuttle and be home by two the following day. Meanwhile I waited for my son to call me back from St. Paul. I had left a number of messages for him. I worked for a while longer and ate a solitary dinner around eight. I was alone... see more

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