“True Stories and Other Dreams” by Judy Collins (1973)
Release Date: January 1973
Produced by Mark Abramson and Judy Collins
Chart Positions: #27 (US)
Singles: “Cook With Honey” (US #32), “Secret Gardens” (US #122)
“True Stories and Other Dreams” was Judy Collins’ ninth studio album. For the first half-dozen albums of her career, Judy Collins sang only traditional folk tunes and material by other songwriters. Even when she began to write songs in the late 1960s, her compositions were outnumbered by tunes from other sources on the records she issued during the next five years or so. The 1973 LP True Stories and Other Dreams, however, marked the first album on which her own songs comprised the majority of the material. As usual, though, the record also featured astutely selected tunes from a variety of other contemporary singer-songwriters, some of who had also been recording since the early days of the folk revival, and some of who were newcomers to the music scene.
True Stories and Other Dreams also marked the first occasion on which she received a producer's credit, shared with Mark Abramson, who'd produced her recordings since the mid-1960s. As Judy elaborates, however, throughout their association, "we produced together, truly. I would never have denied him his production credit. But it was also my choices, my thinking, my determination, and then Mark backing me up, helping me get what I wanted to get done. And we knew all these wonderful people, of course." On True Stories and Other Dreams, that support cast included her longtime friend Eric Weissberg on acoustic guitar, banjo, and upright bass; Bill Keith, whose pedal steel lent an occasional country flavor; and even Latin jazzman Ray Barretto on congos and bongos.
The songs on the album showcased Judy’s varied musical interests. The single “Cook With Honey” was alight flavored pop song that reached #32 on the US singles chart. The protest song, “The Hostage” brought us back to Judy’s folk roots. “Secret Gardens,” the second single from the album is a beautiful orchestral ballad about her family. The song bubbled under the US singles chart making it to #122. Opening with Judy’s tender keyboard playing, the wistful “Holly Ann” is about Judy’s sister. Of course there are the fantastic story songs like “Fisherman Song,” where Judy excels. Judy recalls, "I took a little time off in 1972 and went out to Long Island just to do some songwriting," remembers Judy today. "At that point, I wrote 'Fishermen Song.' I was on the beach there and these fishermen sing; they bring in the fish, and they would hand me a fresh bluefish or something for me to cook. So 'Fishermen Song' is really about that experience of watching them fish."
"Song For Martin"
“Song For Martin” is a poignant album highlight about Martin Hoffman, a school teacher, who composed the music for a poem written by Woody Guthrie titled “Deportee.” Hoffman and Judy became friends in the 1960s. Collins remembers, "He was the first person I ever heard sing 'This Land Is Your Land,' up at Lookout Mountain in Colorado," says Judy. "He was a wonderful man, just a sweet man." Hoffman committed suicide prior to the recording of “True Stories and Other Dreams.”
The album closes with the dramatic politically charged “Che.” In an entirely different vein, the seven-and-a-half-minute "Ché"–inspired, of course, by the famous revolutionary Ché Guevara – is one of the most ambitious compositions Collins ever put on disc. She'd been thinking about "the people who betrayed him, and how they might feel, because they were probably Catholics, they were probably poor, they were probably peasants in South America," she reflects. "And I thought, I want to see if I can paint that picture of him. Because all these people get told by leaders what they should do, and how they should live, and it must get to be a burden."
Judy Collins (1973)