I sail my memories of home, like boats across the Seine

Making her grand debut in Seattle in 1939, her mother claimed that she was born singing. And while Judith Marjorie Collins’ mother ensured that her music lessons began at the age of four (indeed, she proved to be a piano prodigy) it was her father who was her greatest influence.

Blind since early childhood, but interminably optimistic about pursuing his goals, Charles Collins was a radio pioneer whose distinctive baritone voice was regularly heard over the Seattle airwaves. He was also a second generation Irish-American who maintained a love for all things from the Emerald Isle (so much so that he named his firstborn son, Michael Collins).  In fact many of his daughter’s first recordings were rich with Irish standards, drawn from the repertoire of ditties that he would sing around the house.

Long considered a premier folk and “art” song singer (Jacques Brel was alive and well with Judy Collins), she truly gained international acclaim after having hits with a series of Joni Mitchell and Sandy Deny songs.  But it took a a while longer to acquire the confidence needed to become a songwriter.  Featured on her eighth studio album, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” in 1968, this was only the third one that she ever wrote.

Partially autobiographical, she completed it in about 40 minutes, and knowing that her father was sick, she had planned to sing it to him after a three-week engagement in England. Sadly, Charles Collins died while she was away and never got to hear this song, dedicated to “My Father”.

 LISTEN TO THIS SELECTION – Tuesday 22 January

My Father

 My father always promised us

That we would live in France

We’d go boating on the Seine

And I would learn to dance

We lived in Ohio then

He worked in the mines

On his dreams like boats

We knew we would sail in time

All my sisters soon were gone

To Denver and Cheyenne

Marrying their grownup dreams

The lilacs and the man

 I stayed behind the youngest still

Only danced alone

The colors of my father’s dreams

Faded without a sound

 And I live in Paris now

My children dance and dream

Hearing the ways of a miner’s life

In words they’ve never seen

I sail my memories of home

Like boats across the Seine

And watch the Paris sun

Set in my father’s eyes again

 My father always promised us

That we would live in France

We’d go boating on the Seine

And I would learn to dance

 I sail my memories of home

Like boats across the Seine

And watch the Paris sun

Set in my father’s eyes again

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