Folk singer Judy Collins just celebrated her 79th birthday. But don’t suggest, like one reviewer did, she’s in the sunset of her career.
“That’s not true, I start each day with new ideas,” Collins told The Item. “There’s no reason someone can’t keep doing what they’re doing until they fall over. If you’re a painter you have to paint, if you’re a singer you have to sing. I love it and hopefully I’m getting better.”
Collins and Stephen Stills, her former boyfriend of Crosby, Stills & Nash who penned “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” in 1969 about their failed romance, will perform at Lynn Auditorium on Thursday.
On why the two paired up for the 42-city tour, Collins said despite their breakup, they are friends. A decade ago they shared the stage at an AARP convention, had a good time, and discussed making music together, she recalled.
“After knowing each other for 50 years, we decided to go for it,” she said. “What could be more exciting than being in a rock and roll band at my age? How great is that?”
The idea to tour became a reality three years ago, Collins said when they emailed each other possible song lists, and narrowed it to 18 tunes.
“We said to each other ‘Why aren’t we doing this? We’re not chopped liver,’ ” she said. “I love it because I don’t have to carry the whole show. I do my part and get to play with a band. We have a great time. It’s got everything.”
Asked what fans can expect at the Lynn show, Collins said they will hear several Joni Mitchell compositions including “Chelsea Morning.”
“But really, “it’s a couple of old tigers on stage,” she said with a laugh.
One song she won’t play is “I’ll Never Say Goodbye,” whose lyrics, she said, make her cry. It’s the theme from the 1979 movie, “The Promise.” The song, written by David Shire, and Alan and Marilyn Bergman starts,
Why I can barely say goodnight.
The thought would never cross my mind
I’m not afraid to say I love you
And I promise you, I’ll never say goodbye.”
Collins, who is not only still hurting from the suicide of her only child, Clark, in 1992 at age 33, has lost a number of friends in recent years.
“I just couldn’t sing it without tears,” she said. “It’s hard, it’s terrible, loss is just something we have to live with. Life is all about losing everything.”
Last fall, Collins and Stills released “Everybody Knows.” The CD offers their take of classic tunes by fellow folk icons Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, plus a few of their own compositions. AllMusic.com described it as “a clean and crisp production, so much so that its transparency reveals the disparity between Collins‘ sweet voice and Stills‘ scraggly singing, a pairing that can sound as smooth as sandpaper. But there’s an inherent warmth to the record. Stills and Collins have a gentle, easy chemistry and the studio-slick supporting performances provide a nice bed for a project that is less nostalgia than a reassuring reminder of the comfort of growing old together.”
Collins began her music career at 13 as a piano prodigy. But she was lured by the folk revival music movement and artists such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.
She is perhaps best known for her rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” from her landmark 1967 album, “Wildflowers.” Her dreamy version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” is another fan favorite.
Collins, who has memories of playing Boston as far back as the 1960s, said she’s performed at Symphony Hall and before that at the Unicorn.
The small venue, which was located on Boylston Street near the Prudential Center until it closed in the 1970s, featured many artists who became giant pop stars.
In addition to Collins, the performers it showcased included Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, and before they became TV stars, the Monkees, according to the Music Museum of New England.
“I have a big, devoted audience in Boston,” she said. “And I am very grateful.”