08/17/2010 04:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Judy Collins Goes Over the Rainbow

Note to self: If you are ever again allotted 15 minutes for an interview with Judy Collins, be sure to have on hand a machine that bends time.

Note to self: You heard right. She did say, "Our problems are all crafted to help us individually."

Note to self: You can believe someone is actually as positive as this person sounds.

Sitting trying to transcribe the hastily scribbled notes from the telephone interview with Judy Collins, a writer can feel herself slide down the rabbit hole into another dimension -- one where a woman sounding like an angel can speak in perfect clarity at double speed, speak of working constantly and achieving a balance in the process, and counsel viewing the Robert Klein television special as a way to spiritual peace.

But of course, it is not down the rabbit hole where one has traveled. It is Over The Rainbow.

Over The Rainbow is a gorgeous children"s book just published by Imagine! Publishing, a Peter Yarrow imprint (yes, the Peter of Peter, Paul and Mary).

The book comes with a CD soundtrack sung by Ms. Collins, and it is possible to believe one is actually being transported to another dimension when listening to it. (That voice that is part bell, part clear mountain stream!) Turning the pages of this volume, stunningly illustrated by renowned French painter Eric Puybaret, you recall the farm in Kansas where you first heard of the longing to go where the clouds were far behind you, and revise that first vision into a more metaphysical one -- no, actually a more mature one.

We are more mature now and so is Judy Collins, though she is quick to point out that she is (as the book credit describes her) still a dreamer. When asked what dreams she still holds, she doesn't lose a beat before replying: "I dream of writing a Broadway musical. I dream of writing another novel. I want to write more and more and more of my own songs. I want to keep on singing ... on and on and on and to never, ever retire."

Later she confesses to larger ambitions. "I want to win the Pulitzer, the Booker! I think big . . . you have to." In that, the listener doesn't hear ego, or hubris, but enthusiasm, inspiration, a missionary spirit -- a preacher believing in that place Over The Rainbow. So the conversation returns to the book, and problems, and Judy Collins reminds you that one of the magical things here is that you read this verse first:

When all the world is a hopeless jumble

and the raindrops tumble all around.

Heaven opens a magic lane.

When all the clouds darken up the skyway

there's a rainbow highway to be found. Leading from your window pane

to a place behind the sun,

Just a step beyond the rain.

So, while "Over The Rainbow" has always seemed like a song about longing, it starts out as a song about promise. And Judy Collins seems to have made herself a promise about this song, and a couple of other ones as well.

To read the rest, including video, click here.