Mojo (UK)

SILL: In Love With You

“May you savour each word like a raspberry,” the linernotes of 1971’s Judee Sill concluded. Here are five songs to get you started.

- Grayson Haver Currin

The Kiss

(from Heart Food, Asylum, 1973/Live In London: The BBC Recordings, 1972–1973, Troubadour, 2015)

Sill was flummoxed this was a single, rightly worried its pizzicato waltz and French horns were too extravagan­t for early-’70s dials. Still, this song about the hopeful power of connection in a challengin­g universe is spellbindi­ng – whether in lush Heart Food form or on the BBC disc’s solo piano recording.

The Phoenix

(from Heart Food, Asylum, 1973)

“I never saw him losin’ a race,” Sill sings of the Devil in the second verse, “but I think he must.” Her entire life and tragic end live inside this line, the crux of a twilit ditty with a guitar line so supple it always comforts. She briefly staved off her demons, then slowly yielded to them.


(from Judee Sill, Asylum, 1971)

Male critics often painted Sill as haughty and homely, an unlikely bisexual fit for the female singersong­writer archetype that, Graham Nash notes, Joni Mitchell defined. But Lady-O – a love song of sapphic surrender – says fuck ’em, albeit tenderly, accepting joy and titillatio­n wherever your “just heart rolled and flowed.” Lopin’ Along Thru The Cosmos

(from Judee Sill, Asylum, 1971)

The greatest self-help song ever? Sill’s anthem of selfaccept­ance summarises familiar travails, especially the tendency to covet results rather than revelling in the road toward them. “I’ll tell you a secret I’ve never revealed,” she offers twice. “However we are is OK.” Both times, it feels like a long, warm hug.

The Last Resort

(Dreams Come True, Water, 2005)

Sill didn’t only write slow songs. Bent by music industry woes and nearly broken by car crashes, she gathered her friends for her last stand, epitomised by this Pentecosta­l romp about deliveranc­e, friendship, and how following intuition can offer “great revelation.”

Where next?

Aside from Sill’s three primary LPs and a slew of posthumous compilatio­ns, check Tommy Peltier’s Chariot Of Astral

Light (Black Beauty, 2005) and its Pocket-Socket, their collaborat­ion about their first night together. Sill sounds splendid providing harmonies for David Bearden on Bee Gees, Gene Clark, and gospel tunes at davidbeard­ And on 2009 tribute LP Crayon

Angel, Beth Orton perfectly embodies Sill’s struggle for redemption on Reach For The Sky, while Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen adds apt cascades of harmony to Waterfall, one of Sill’s most guileless love songs.

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