Judy Collins took a little longer than her usual one year between album releases before delivering True Stories and Other Dreams while Elektra Records filled the gap with a greatest-hits LP, Colors of the Day: The Best of Judy Collins. When Collins was ready with the new disc in January 1973 (it was actually her first studio album in more than two years, although the live Living of 1971 had contained mostly newly recorded songs), it became apparent what had required the extra time: five of the nine tracks were original songs penned by Collins herself. She had placed her own songs on previous LPs dating back to 1967's Wildflowers, but never so many. Nor were these, as earlier compositions tended to be, restricted in subject matter to personal reflections. Many of them did conform to that description, with "Secret Gardens" being a reverie about family, beginning with her grandmother, and "Holly Ann" a depiction of her baby sister. But "Fishermen Song" was a catchy, folkie tune about fishermen, naturally. "Song for Martin," while personal, was an elegy to a friend who had committed suicide. And the seven-and-a-half-minute closer, "Ché," was an ambitious recitative about the death of Ché Guevara and the hopes for freedom in South America. Always a master of varying moods, Collins had begun the album with the lilting "Cook with Honey" from the pen of Valerie Carter, and included the lovelorn "So Begins the Task," written by ex-beau Stephen Stills. But the tone of the album turned gradually darker. "Secret Gardens" and "Holly Ann" gave way to a percussion-filled cover of Tom Paxton's "The Hostage," an account of the then-recent Attica State Prison riot as told from beyond the grave by a slain prison guard who ended up blaming Governor Nelson Rockefeller for having police storm the prison, not the prisoners who held him. With that harrowing account followed by "Song for Martin" and "Ché," the album thus ended with three songs about violent death. That made True Stories and Other Dreams a downbeat collection, but it was in the mood of the times of the early '70s, presenting a hangover of '60s idealism that had given way to personal and political disillusionment.
|Label:||Elektra / Wea|
Performance CreditsJudy Collins Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals
Bill Keith Steel Guitar
Ray Barretto Conga
Bucky Pizzarelli Acoustic Guitar
Eric Weissberg Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Bass
Louis Killen Concertina
Don Brooks Amplified Harmonica
Bob Daugherty Bass
Russell George Bass
Steve Mandell Acoustic Guitar
Larry Packer Fiddle
Paul Prestopino Harp
Allan Schwartzberg Percussion,Drums
Jerry Mathews Electric Guitar
Technical CreditsJudy Collins Producer
Ray Barretto Contributor
Mark Abramson Producer
Steve Mandell Contributor
Jay Messina Engineer
Shelly Yakus Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
True Stories & Other Dreams based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
I'm not sure why this album is passed over by some in stead for the typical choices of COLORS OF THE DAY, WILDFLOWERS, and JUDITH (not that they aren't great in their own right!), yet until people listen to TRUE STORIES, one really can't judge her on her songwriting because it appeared too infrequently in her earlier recordings. In regards to her songwriting, it ranges from gentle and simple-minded fare (''Cook With Honey'') to highly serious political and historical songs (''The Hostage,'' and ''Che''). Throught the course of this, Collins has also written songs of utter beauty that do nothing but reveal her true musical genius, including ''Fishermen Song,'' ''Secret Gardens,'' and ''Holly Ann.'' It is sort of a surprise that this album wasn't more successful than it was because it did contain one of Collins' only top 40 hits in ''Cook With Honey.'' If that song got radio airplay, than why did the album in turn not get more exposure? I believe if people are going to profess how Judy is their favorite singer/songwriter yet haven't listened to TRUE STORIES AND OTHER DREAMS, than they will be happily surprised how this album may truly solidify that fact for them!!!!
What truly distinguishes this 1973 work by Collins , aside from her legendary crystalline voice , is her remarkable songwriting ability ; although True Stories and Other Dreams boasts fine songs by Stephen Stills and Tom Paxton (his song "The Hostage" , about the Attica prison riot gets a powerful rendition by Collins) , the major highlights of this album are Collins's original songs. Her " Fisherman Song" is an irresistable little ditty that has a wonderful music track featuring a concertina , fiddle and Evelyn Beers's dancing dolls ; "Holly Ann" is a lovingly melodic tribute to Collins's younger sister ; the very sad "Song For Martin", a touching rumination for a friend who commited suicide ; the epic-sized "Che" , a biographical tribute to Che Guevera that slowly builds in intensity. The song that dominates this album, however, is Collin's heart-wrenchingly beautiful memory piece , "Secret Gardens of the Heart" , a mind's eye visit to her grandmother's house , a much loved place that in the present day doesn't exist anymore. This song is a masterpiece that ranks easily with Paul Dresser's great "On The Banks Of The Wabash" - both songs are musical memorials to days gone by and love letters to the dead. I suspect that years from now Judy Collins will get the praise she truly deserves for her contribution to American songwriting. Although her style is deceptively simple and her songs tend to focus on the autobiographical , they are powerful works of art. Judy Collins is a National Treasure.