If you were a songwriter in 1968, the singer that you wanted to cover your songs was Judy Collins. Not only did her beautiful voice compliment any song, you could also be sure that her rendition of your song would be respectful, and artistic.
Who Knows Where the Time Goes was Judy Collins’ seventh studio album in a career that began with her 1961 release A Maid of Constant Sorrow. The album was recorded at Elektra’s studio in L.A., and produced by David Anderle, who was known for his work with Kris Kristofferson, Delaney & Bonnie, and numerous other popular acts of the day. Anderle pulled together a cast of remarkable musicians for the occasion, including Stephen Stills on guitar and bass, pedal steel player Buddy Emmons, guitarist James Burton, bass player Chris Ethridge, keyboard player Van Dyke Parks, and drummer Jim Gordon.
The result of their efforts was a stunning set of interpretations by Collins. The songs are by writers who were, for the most part, either already well-known, or would be at some point. My favorite song on the album however is a ravishing Collins original called “My Father,” in which she recounts her childhood memories and dreams for the future. The album’s title song is the definitive version of Sandy Denny’s wistful classic. There is also Collins’ version of Ian Tyson’s tale of rodeo riders and the people who love them, “Someday Soon,” which remains a song that is often associated with Collins.
Leonard Cohen was not yet a household name in 1968, but Collins helped to make him one by choosing two of his songs, “Story of Isaac,” and “Bird On the Wire,” for the album. Bob Dylan is represented with “Poor Immigrant,” and Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band contributed the beautiful “First Boy I Loved.” The album opens with Rolf Kempf’s “Hello, Hooray,” which oddly enough was chosen by none other than Alice Cooper to open his 1973 album Billion Dollar Babies, and closes with a transcendent take on the folk chestnut “Pretty Polly.”
Who Knows Where the Time Goes was released on Elektra Records in November, 1968, and reached #29 on the Billboard Pop Album chart. It was a slice of serenity in the midst of one of the most turbulent years in American history. The quest for greater meaning that was so much a part of that time is clearly evident in this music. The album seemed to shine like a diamond during some very dark days. It’s shining still.