Judy Garland was my roommate in college.
I played this iconic album so often in college, that the grooves wore down.
My first week of school at Syracuse University in the fall of 1973 was overwhelming.
Nerves and insecurities were kicking into high gear as we unpacked our familiar belongings in this new unfamiliar place. As Pioneer stereos systems were being set up in dorm rooms, the recognizable sounds of “Smoke on the Water” and “Shambala” could be heard blaring through the dorm halls day and night, bonding the students.
My new roommate poked through my meager record collection disappointed at not finding at least one Allman Brothers album.
While other kids my age were unpacking their albums that invariably included Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Deep Purple’s Who Do We Think We Are, my collection of vinyl consisted of The Best of Barbara Streisand, a comedy album entitled The Next to Last Joan Rivers Album, and Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall.
My roommate eyed me warily. ( Was she rooming with a gay man?)
As other kids grooved to Grand Funk Rail Road, I was mesmerized by this live recording of Judy’s electric Carnegie Hall performance on April 23, 1961.
It’s been called “the greatest night in show business history,” and the live recording would go on to win five Grammys, becoming Garland’s bestselling record.
What stood out on the album was the recorded applause, which is both loud and lengthy demonstrating the intense connection between Garland and her fans. While the crowd pleaded for encores and even interrupted with cheers, Judy reassured them, “I know. I’ll sing them all, and we’ll stay all night.”
And I would. Stay up all up all night, night after night listening to this electric performance. Her phrasing, her emotions, and her sheer vulnerability will never be surpassed.
Happy 100th birthday Judy Garland. I hope you have found peace somewhere over the rainbow.
100 years. How is it possible? It’s like she’s never stopped.
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It seems unimaginable. Yet my own father would be 100 too!