I am a little ashamed to admit that 35 years after her death, I am only now discovering Sandy Denny…

My husband, Bill, has been out of town all week. When he goes out of town, I try to find more things to keep me busy. That keeps me from wallowing too much in self-pity. I hate it when he goes away on business because I end up feeling pretty lonely. This week, I ended up making a number of new recordings and a tentative deal with a fellow music enthusiast who plays guitar. My YouTube friend from Scotland proposed that he play a track for me on guitar, which I would then add vocals to. As we were trying to come up with an appropriate song, he suggested “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”, which was written by British singer and songwriter Sandy Denny.

Sandy Denny sings “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” with Fairport Convention.

I knew the song. The person I first heard sing it was not Sandy Denny, though. It was Judy Collins. I own a copy of her greatest hits album, Colors of the Day, which I used to listen to all the time when I was in college twenty years ago. That album includes Judy Collins’ take on Sandy Denny’s beautiful song. For some reason, I never bothered to find out who had penned it, even though I so enjoyed the lyrics and melody.

Judy Collins’ version of “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”.

Years later, the late Eva Cassidy covered “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” and my YouTube friend proposed that we should try to do the song in Eva’s style. Honestly, I am not all that familiar with Eva Cassidy’s music, either. Sure, I have heard some of her better-known covers like “Fields of Gold” and “Songbird”, but I haven’t yet sat down with one of her albums and given it a proper listen, even though I think Eva Cassidy’s voice was beautiful.

Eva Cassidy’s version of “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”.

As I listen to these three women’s interpretations of the same lyrics, I am struck by how beautiful and ethereal they are in their own way. Sandy Denny’s vocals are simple and pure, while Judy Collins gives the song sort of a luminous quality. Eva Cassidy’s take is more soulful and emotional. All three versions are timeless and would have been as much at home in the 60s as they are in 2013.

Sandy Denny, like Eva Cassidy, died young. She was just 31 years old and a new mother when, in March 1978, she fell down some stairs and hit her head on concrete. Denny abused drugs and alcohol and in the wake of her accident, she visited a doctor who prescribed Distalgesic, a drug that does not mix with alcohol. On April 17, 1978 Denny collapsed and fell into a coma. She died four days later, officially of a traumatic mid-brain hemorrhage after blunt force trauma.

Though Sandy Denny had a devoted cult following, she never quite made it to mainstream success. That’s why I’m learning about her now. Oddly enough, I was actually living in England when Sandy Denny died. Granted, I was only five years old at the time, but I was already a music lover.

Anyway, I did try my hand at this song, though not with help from my YouTube friend, and I think it turned out pretty decently. But I think I need to spend more time discovering Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention.

My version of “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”.