Judy Collins, a legendary singer-songwriter and author, was looking out of her hotel window in Park City, Utah, when she did this interview by phone a couple of weeks ago.
“I’m looking at the mountains,” she said. “And I’m going out to sing pretty soon, a solo show at the Egypt Theatre.”
On Nov. 8, she and Stephen Stills will perform at the Schaefer Center in Boone. The two had a famous romance in the late 1960s that resulted in one of the greatest breakup songs of all time, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” by Stills’ band, Crosby, Stills and Nash.
In 2017, they went into the studio together for the first time in decades and made an album, “Everybody Knows.” The title song is an ironic love song by the late Leonard Cohen.
Other songs on the album include Bob Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country,” Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” and Tim Hardin’s “Reason To Believe.” A recent set list shows them singing Collins’ “Houses” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” as encores.
Although their romantic relationship lasted only two years, they kept in touch.
“We started talking about this about four years ago,” Collins said. “We did a show for AARP in Orlando (Fla.). I was singing on my own, and Richie Havens was there. It was a fabulous show. We realized after that that we had to do this thing, and we just put ourselves together and did it.
“It was an effort of love and conviction and kind of a dream come true really.”
Collins is constantly writing songs and poetry, recording and performing. By the end of December, she will have done about 110 shows this year, some with Stills and some solo.
She has made more than 50 albums, and has written seven books, including last year’s “Cravings: How I Conquered Food.” She has spoken freely about her alcoholism, which was treated in 1978, and her lifelong struggle with bulimia.
At 79, her voice is still clear and crystalline. She takes care of it by vocalizing and exercising daily and eating healthy. She takes her own food with her on the road, and buys groceries if she runs out of healthy food.
“I have three meals a day, nothing in between, and I’ve maintained my same weight for decades,” she said. “I don’t drink or smoke or scream or stay up all night. You have to get enough rest; you have to take care of yourself.
“I admit that once in a while I stay up all night watching something on PBS, like ‘Unforgotten.’”
She is particularly excited about her most recent single, “Dreamers.”
“It’s about those people whose lives are at risk,” Collins said. “Who either are immigrants or refugees. We have a real responsibility to them — more than anybody in the world — because we are all immigrants.
“We have a different kind of responsibility than people in most parts of the world. We’ve been dealing with immigration for hundreds of years, and we still can’t come up with a plan that’s not brutality. That’s not civilized. That’s primitive and disgraceful.”
Q: What’s the last thing you learned — song or life lesson?
Answer: I’m performing some songs that I have always wanted to do. “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,’ a song by Jimmy Webb about Paul Gauguin. I’ve always wanted to do “The Highwayman,” and I’m doing it in the Stills tours. It’s based on a poem and famously performed by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. I thought, why not me, and it’s being well-received.
Q: How does your art help you deal with losses?
Answer: Art is the way that we deal with losses. I mean, how are you going to get through life without art? I can’t imagine. That’s how we process. Everything that we do as singers or songwriters or dancers — we accomplish things that we can’t accomplish through language alone.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
Answer: Every day is a challenge. (Laughs.) Every day you’re happy to wake up. You’re not in jail.
Q: What does your art do for you?
Answer: It keeps me young. It keeps my skills sharp.
Q: What advice do you have for other artists?
Answer: Stay healthy. Practice your art every day. Be grateful that whatever brought you into this universe had something good in mind for you.