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My Signature Song: 'No Time At All'


Judy Cohen of New York City has a signature song from 1972, a melody she just can't get out of her head even on a city bus on the way to our studios.

JUDY COHEN: Traveling up here, I was singing to myself - maybe even a little louder than just to myself because, I mean, who knows anyway? Most people are talking on their cellphones or texting, you know?


ANDREA MARTIN: (As Berthe) One, two, three, four.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS #1: (As characters, singing) Oh, it's time to start living, time to take a little from the world we're given. Time to take time, for spring will turn to fall in just no time at all.

SIMON: This is "No Time At All" from the musical "Pippin," a standout among the many Broadway tunes that she's heard over the years.

COHEN: My parents took us just about every year to see the oldies but goodies. You know, there was "Oklahoma."


GORDON MACRAE: (As Curly McLain, singing) Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.

COHEN: "Carousel."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS #2: (As characters, singing) Blow high, blow low. Away then we will go.

COHEN: "Funny Girl."


BARBRA STREISAND: (As Fanny Brice, singing) Don't tell me not to live, just sit and putter.

COHEN: "South Pacific."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS #3: (As characters, singing) Bloody Mary is the girl I love.

SIMON: The song that worked its way into Judy Cohen's mind came from a show that she first saw in her 30s, "Pippin." It's the story of a wayward Prince who's caught up in a quest for power and the meaning of life. Then his grandmother steps in to tell the young prince to slow down, appreciate each day.


MARTIN: (As Berthe, singing) I've never wondered if I was afraid when there was a challenge to take. And I never thought about how much I weighed when there was still one piece of cake.

COHEN: When I heard it, I felt like Granny was singing to me because there were many times when, you know, I'd be teaching. And I'd come home. And then I'd change clothes. And I'd go out again. It sort of like made me stop and think about and count the moments and the days as being very special because you ain't going to be there again.

SIMON: Judy Cohen says the song taught her how to age with intention and humor. And as the years and birthdays have added up, Judy Cohen no longer saw herself in the character of Pippin but in Pippin's grandmother. She performed the song with a community choir in hospitals, churches and senior citizen centers.

COHEN: We'd walk in, and most of the people there were in wheelchairs. And they would be, you know, completely oblivious and heads down and whatever. And as soon as we started singing, music just cut through everything. And they would remember. Their heads would pop up. And when I sang "No Time At All," I would first say, if I would be telling younger people, this is the message that I would give to them. And then I would break out into the song. (Singing) When your best days are yester, the rest are twice as dear.

SIMON: Judy Cohen is now 78 and says "No Time At All" still gives her guidance and comfort.


MARTIN: (As Berthe, singing) What good is a field on a fine summer night if you sit all alone with the weeds?

COHEN: It just makes me feel young again and that no matter how bad I'm feeling - if I have an ache here or pain here or I'm depressed or something - you know, it just brings back a lot of memories. And there's almost like an immediate smile on my face again.

SIMON: Judy Cohen of New York City, sharing her signature song "No Time At All" from the Steven Schwartz musical "Pippin."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS #1: (As characters, singing) In just no time at all. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.