In December, I attended a concert (a concert!) at my local arts and culture center, a theater founded by the late Katharine Hepburn, our Connecticut town’s most famous resident. It was an intimate setting in which to treat my mom to a performance by the one and only Judy Collins, eyes still luminous, voice still buttery rich at her elevated age of 82.
We made a memory that night. Neither of us had ever seen her perform, although both of us have loved her so long—my mom since the 1960s, who in turn introduced me to Collins via some well-loved vinyl records in the mid 1980s. Back then my own (comparatively inferior, obviously) soprano was starting to present itself, and I found incredible teachers in Judy (and Joni and Joan).
My mother and I both drew in breaths when Collins opened her set with “Both Sides Now,” her rhinestone guitar strap catching the light, and we both teared up thinking about the passage of time and some important people we have loved and lost along the way.
Early on in the performance came “In the Twilight,” a recent song she’d composed about her late mother when she grieved her imminent death at her bedside. It is a character study, a lyrical poem, and a eulogy set to music.
Here she is singing it on YouTube.
A line stood out to me, one that served as a kind of refrain…
Chardonnay in a crystal glass/Amethysts on her fingers
I have to think any jewelry lover would respond to these words; I imagined something like the rings below.
Collins had many gifts for us that night. The final—and most spectacular—one was a devastating delivery of her famous cover of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” made even more poignant given the fact that the composer had passed away just a few weeks before.
This, the evening’s encore number, undid me on many levels, but there was another Sondheim moment from earlier on in the set that I’m still thinking about. The song seems apropos for my first All That Glitters post of 2022 because the lyrics contain beautifully articulated advice for any jewelry designer contemplating their agenda for the new year.
It’s called “Move On,” from Sunday in the Park With George, Sondheim’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 1985 musical about the stormy, conflicted French pointillist painter Georges Seurat.
When Collins sings it, it has a motherly quality, consoling and reassuring, and its words will surely resonate with artists across all mediums, struggling and otherwise. I wanted to share some of the words here as a kind of benediction when the possibilities seem equally hopeful and daunting:
Stop worrying if your vision is new
Let others make that decision
They usually do
You keep moving on
Just keep moving on
Anything you do
Let it come from you
Then it will be new
Give us more to see
“Move On” is not a toe tapper, but I think it will illuminate whatever clarity you are seeking at this precise moment.
And to those of you who say there ought to be clowns? Well, maybe next year…
Top: “Stop worrying where you’re going. Move on.” —Stephen Sondheim. Purple Passion ring in 18k gold with iolite, amethysts, rhodolites, blue and lavender sapphires, and diamonds, $27,000; Misahara
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