Judy Collins, “Send In The Clowns”

As many showstopping ballads as there have been in the history of Broadway, very few have ever worked their way into the pop music world like “Send In The Clowns.” Although both Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand took a shot at Stephen Sondheim’s sublimely sad tale from the musical A Little Night Music, it was Judy Collins, with her vocals somehow both soothing and devastating all at once, who pushed it into the Top 40 after recording it on her 1975 album Judith. It’s not for nothing that Collins is one of the finest interpreters of song in hers or any other generation, and, with “Send In The Clowns,” she had crackerjack material. On the stage, it was a lament by the heroine Desiree about finally realizing that the man who had wanted her for many years was indeed the one for her, only to find that he had moved on with somebody else. You don’t need any exposition to understand the song’s emotional content, however, not with Collins’ understated delivery and the French horn and trumpet empathizing with her. Instead of ranting and raving about fate, the narrator simply shrugs at the ironies of the scenario, asking her former flame…

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