Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kyrie Eleison

Even more obscure than poor Dory Previn, a beloved singer-songwriter from the 1970s has been calling out to me recently. Dead for nearly three decades now, Judee Sill is an ultimate test for pop snobs and freaks. On one level she's the most annoyingly sweet voiced, long-haired hippie chick that makes Joni Mitchell look like someone as crass and shallow as that Madonna creature or Cher. But she was also bisexual, a heroin addict, Jesus freak and wrote a tune covered by Cass Elliott, "Jesus Was a Cross Maker". Hers was a tale of struggle, addiction, prostitution, near death, redemption, creative flourish, a long path of sobriety, fame lurking on the horizon, and sudden tragic fall by overdose.

Hers is not the usual three act tale of VH1 Behind the Music that ends with peace and redemption, and thus not very well known. The underlying sadness in her tunes foretold her fate. Yet there is also something healing in her music at certain moments and her "The Donor" of "The Kiss" (below) call out to me with their eerie Baroque pop grandeur and simplicity in the wee hours of the night. They are the "Angel Eyes" of the granola era. I recall them calling out to me during my very early teens from a tinny table top radio in my grandmother's kitchen tuned in to an obscure campus station, the likes of which were long gone by the time of the Ford Administration. I hope I am not alone in remembering her. Rest in peace Judee as you bring me peace tonight.

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6 Comments:

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous The Angry Young Man said...

Voice reminescent of Karen Carpenter, face like Margaret Hamilton, could her life have been anything but tragic? I like the Hollies' cover of "Jesus Was A Cross Maker." Nice faux Keane child album cover art work, btw.

 
At 6:06 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Angry - Spot on observations, Angry One. And those zits are a bit spooky too. I'm overdue for my Keane-style portrait holding my kitty.

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

I'm so surprised I have never heard of her, unless I had but my aged memory of her is non-existent. dory previn was a fave of mine but then you did say judee was more obscure, but according to wiki, she was part of the 'laurel canyon' sound which I favored then (and still do)...

speaking of wiki also found this which you may enjoy:

"Scottish Celtic-Soul singer Jackie Leven's 2006 album Oh What A Blow That Phantom Dealt Me! contains a song entitled "The Silver In Her Crucifix (Homage To Judee Sill)", which includes the lines: "and Judee Sill just stood there/with a gold key in her heart/and the silver in her crucifix/kept warring worlds apart/that's why I love Judee Sill.../and I know I always will."

 
At 10:46 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Mouse - If you've not already checked the link to her tune "The Donor", I think you might enjoy it. I feel the tune really holds up well. On the same lines as reference to Judee by Leven, the band Camera Obscura has a song called "Dory Previn" around 2006. Then there is Janis Ian who is still out there recording.

 
At 5:01 PM, Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

thanks for the heads up on camera obscura - the youtube live version of the song is a bit noisy for my taste - but does sound like a bank worthy of checking out more...the fact they are from scotland of course endears them to me.... and you know youtube one thing leads to another and I've wasted much too much time...ah the youtube tube!

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Mouse - I know the clip your talking about. I don't think there's a good version of the song on YouTube, so you'd have to actually PAY to hear it on iTunes. They're a fun little band

 

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