In the liner notes to Judy Collins Sings Leonard Cohen: Democracy Judy Collins relates how Leonard Cohen first performed…with her assistance. Cohen was painfully shy and struggled with singing before a crowd. Collins not only helped Cohen over this hurtle, she started recording some of his songs like “Suzanne.”

Listening to these songs from the Sixties and early Seventies brought back how much I loved this music when I first heard it. Are you a Leonard Cohen fan? Do you like Judy Collins? GRADE: A


  1. “Democracy” – 6:55 (new recording)
  2. Suzanne” – 4:23 (from In My Life, 1966)
  3. “A Thousand Kisses Deep” – 5:42 (new recording)
  4. Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” – 3:34 (from Wildflowers, 1967)
  5. “Dress Rehearsal Rag” – 5:23 (from In My Life, 1966)
  6. “Priests” – 4:58 (from Wildflowers, 1967)
  7. “Night Comes On” – 4:03 (new recording)
  8. “Sisters of Mercy – 2:34 (from Wildflowers, 1967)
  9. “Story of Isaac” – 3:33 (from Who Knows Where the Time Goes, 1968)
  10. Bird on a Wire” – 4:40 (from Who Knows Where the Time Goes, 1968)
  11. Famous Blue Raincoat” – 5:37 (from Living, 1971)
  12. Joan of Arc” – 5:57 (from Living, 1971)
  13. “Take This Longing” – 5:26 (from Bread and Roses, 1976)
  14. Song of Bernadette” – 4:13 (previously unreleased live recording from 1999)


  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    I am a big Leonard Cohen fan. Judy Collins, not so much. I saw Cohen once in Ann Arbor. It was the late 80’s and at the Michigan Theater. He was very good. Not quite so stiff like in this clip. Like many artists with limited voices (Lou Reed, Neil Young, Dylan) I still prefer their versions.
    I first got exposed to his music when I saw McCabe and Mrs. Miller which used his songs on the soundtrack.

  2. Jerry House

    I was a big Judy Collins fan from the get-go and was completely blown away when I first heard her do “Suzanne.” Both have been a big part of our listening for fvie decades.

    1. george Post author

      Jerry, like you I became a Judy Collins fan early on. I think it was “Clouds” that first brought me under her spell. I also think the Judy Collins version of “Send in the Clowns” is brilliant!

  3. Deb

    Yes—love them both! (I also recommend Cohen’s two very-1960s novels, THE FAVORITE GAME and, especially, THE BEAUTIFUL LOSERS.) My favorite song on the Collins album is “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.” About 30 years ago, Jennifer Warnes recorded an album of Cohen covers, “Famous Blue Raincoat” (although Cohen’s suggested title, “Jenny Sings Lenny” has a nice ring to it). My favorite song on that album was “First We Take Manhattan.”

    1. Jeff Meyerson

      The late Ed Gorman wrote a short story (and later used the title for a collection) called “Famous Blue Raincoat.” Not a huge fan of either, to be honest, though we have seen Collins in concert – I think in Central Park, in the ’70s or ’80s.

    2. george Post author

      Deb, you are so right about FAMOUS BLUE RAINCOAT! I’ll have to find my copy of it and re-listen to it. Love JENNY SINGS LENNY! I hadn’t heard that story before.

  4. wolf

    Me too!
    When I heard “Suzanne” as a student I was totally smitten and immediately went to buy the LP “Songs of …). That version by/with Judy Collins I heard much later and of course also enjoyed it very much.
    My favourite songs are “First We Take Manhattan” and of course “Bird on a wire” – my friends often looked strangely when they heard them – they were more into Rock.
    Well, Bird on a wire is my top song!
    When I heard Joe Cocker performing it in the late 60s I felt like crazy.
    A bit OT:
    And around 12 years ago I took my new girlfriend to an open air concert near Stuttgart to hear Steve Winwood, another one of my absolute favourites. When we arrived we heard that Joe Bonamassa (whose name I had never heard before) would perform as an opener.
    Very nice Blues Rock, he immediately became another favourite of hours and later we went to several of his concerts in Germany.
    And then suddenly he started to play something on his guitar, riffs which sounded familiar somehow – and played and sang Bird on a wire!
    In German: Ich war total von den Socken! I was gobsmacked ..
    Another great experience – fond memories.
    For me it is always a wonderful sign when someone else performs an original hit written by someone else – and you can’t really decide which version you like best.

  5. Patti Abbott

    Love them both. Saturday night PBS is airing a concert, not seen since 1965, with all of greatest US groups of that time. Murray K hosted it. Can’t wait.

    1. Jeff Meyerson

      1963 – went to Murray the K’s show at the Brooklyn Fox Theater downtown. James Brown, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Little Stevie Wonder, Lesley Gore, several others.

      Good times.

  6. Michael Padgett

    I first heard “Suzanne” on a car radio and almost drove off the road. I’d barely heard of Collins at the time and wasn’t aware of Cohen at all. I was never a big fan of either of them. One thing you can say for Collins: thousands of artists have sung and/or written great songs, but Collins was the subject of one-Stephen Stills’ “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”.

    1. Jeff Smith

      There’s a YouTube video from the 2019 Newport Folk Festival which has three guys from different bands getting together to perform “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” and Judy comes out and joins in on the do do do do dos.

    2. george Post author

      Michael, Stephen Stills was smitten with Judy Collins. Here’s the story:

      Stills developed a crush on popular folkie Judy Collins after seeing her perform in Greenwich Village in the early ’60s, writes Peter Doggett in “CSNY: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young” (Atria Books). Through his band Buffalo Springfield, he released a song about her, “Bluebird,” before he even met her.

      That came the following year when Collins saw Stills at a party.

      She later wrote that he was “possibly the most attractive man I had ever seen.” Soon, the two were “making music all day and making love all night,” Collins once said, according to Doggett.

      Later, Stills penned his song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” describing their intimacies. His famous line “Thursdays and Saturdays” even refers to the days of Collins’ regular therapy appointments, writes David Browne in “Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock’s Greatest Supergroup” (Da Capo Press).

      But by then the pair had flamed out, and Collins was ready to move on.

      So Stills used his song to try and woo her back.

      “Visiting her Holiday Inn hotel room, Stills, still lovestruck, gifted her with a Martin guitar and sang and played ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ for her in its entirety,” writes Browne.

      “Collins, who hadn’t yet heard the song, was stunned and touched, recognizing the subtle reference to her therapy appointments in the lyrics. ‘He must have been reading my diaries,’ she says wryly. She told him it was a wonderful song but that it wouldn’t win her back.”

      1. Deb

        Collins wrote a book, SWEET JUDY BLUE EYES (yes, SWEET not SUITE) which covers her relationship with Stills, Collins’s struggles with alcohol, and the lingering effects of that song on both her and popular culture. Collins acknowledges that she was not really in the right place to have a relationship then (she was drinking heavily and, iirc, had several other lovers whom she continued to see during the time she was with Stills). According to the book, Collins stopped drinking in 1995, long after her relationship with Stills had flamed out.

      2. george Post author

        Deb, I haven’t read SWEET JUDY BLUE EYES, but I have heard about many of the problems Judy Collins had with alcohol. Collins managed to keep releasing albums in the 1970s and 1980s despite her addictions.

  7. Jeff Smith

    Okay, this cd is currently $126 on Amazon.

    I’m a fan of both Collins and Cohen. Never saw him, saw her just a couple years ago.

    Two Cohen recommendations. A YouTube video of Cohen with the great jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins doing “Who by Fire.” Absolutely stunning.

    My favorite artist is Matisse. Took me a while to appreciate his style, but when it clicked, it really clicked. There’s a book that takes Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” and illustrates each line with one of Matisse’s works. I love this, and never tire of looking at it.

  8. Steve Oerkfitz

    I’m surprised so many people heard Suzanne by Judy Collins first and not by Noel Harrison who had a hit record with it.
    Never saw a Murray the K show but I don’t remember than ever coming to Detroit. Saw one on tv and the dreadful Lesley Gore was the only one lip syncing since she couldn’t sing very well live.

    1. Jeff Meyerson

      What I remember most from the concert was the great choreography of The Temptations and Little Anthony & the Imperials. There was definitely a Motown girl group too, either Martha & the Vandellas or the Marvelettes.

      1. george Post author

        Jeff, I loved the choreography of the Motown groups. When Diane and I saw AIN’T TOO PROUD on Broadway, I was thrilled that the producers of the musical captured the great dance moves of the original Temptations!

    2. Michael Padgett

      Steve, it may be worse than you think. Not only had I never heard him sing “Suzanne” (or anything else for that matter), I’d never heard of him at all until today.

      1. Steve Oerkfitz

        You have never heard Hallelujah. Probably the most covered song of the last 30 years-K.D. Lang, John Cale, Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright. It was sang at Biden’s inauguration. I don’t know why. It’s about losing a lover.

      2. Deb

        He was Rex Harrison’s son—and on “The Girl from UNCLE” if I remember correctly. Didn’t know he had a hit with “Suzanne” though.

  9. Rick Robinson

    I like some of both, esp. her “Send In the Clowns”, but this album probably has more than I’d want.

  10. Todd Mason

    Oddly enough, I first heard two cited Cohen songs (“Suzanne” and “Bird on a Wire”) as covered by Fairport Convention…pretty damned sweet, there, too, with Judy Dyble taking lead on one and Sandy Denny on the other.

    Always liked rather than loved Collins, and while her voice is a bit rougher these years than the crystalline pure thing it once was, she still sounds good.

    1. george Post author

      Todd, you’re right about the purity of Judy Collins’ voice back in the Sixties and early Seventies. Then, things went downhill for her.


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