Unleashing the Spotlight on Extraordinary Talents.
The Ultimate Judee Sill Primer

The Ultimate Judee Sill Primer

This was perhaps her most famous song, and almost certainly her most covered. Interviews in “Lost Angel” confirm that Sill wrote this tune about her “unhappy romance” with the singer-songwriter and future Eagles collaborator J.D. Souther. As Sill tells a live audience in one clip, “One morning I woke up and realized ‘he’s a bandit and a heartbreaker’ rhymes with ‘but Jesus was a cross maker.’ And I knew that even that wretched bastard was not beyond redemption.”

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Early in her career, Sill wrote several songs for the pop-rock band the Turtles, including this melancholic folk tune that she would record herself a few years later on her debut album. Sill plays guitar and bass on this recording, and she also composed and conducted the orchestral parts.

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Here’s another highlight from her self-titled record. What begins as a simple folk song becomes, in its final minute, something impressively sublime thanks to a layered, unexpectedly dense arrangement that foreshadows the more sophisticated fugue form with which Sill would experiment on her next album.

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Another shoulda-been-hit, this upbeat, piano-driven number coins the perfect phrase to describe Sill’s mystic warrior outlook on life: “Soldier of the heart, how’d you get so strong?”

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This cowboy ballad — featuring percussion that approximates a horse’s clomp — sketches out an archetype often found in Sill’s music: the romantic loner. “Bless the ridge rider, the ridge he’s riding is mighty thin,” she sings. “I guess the ridge rider forgets he’s traveling with a friend.” In a humorous moment in the documentary, three different men claim that they were the inspiration for this song.

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“I can’t decide if this is a romantic song or a holy song,” Sill said when introducing this tune to a live audience shortly after she wrote it. Her best songs are a little bit of both. The version of “The Kiss” that appears on “Heart Food” is magnificent, but I also love this solo demo version released on the rarities collection “Songs of Rapture and Redemption,” which shows the purity of Sill’s talent.

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