"WHERE would you like me to start? Past, present or future?" exclaimed the cat-like figure that swooped in and instantly slid on to the sofa.
"Well, gosh - let's start at the beginning and work forward", I suggested, taking note of her confident purr. "OK", she began, "here it is"... and the singer/songwriter who sprang from nowhere in what seems like weeks, issued the biographical essentials of her 27 years in a quarter of an hour. With flair and gusto...
"When I was three years old, I played the piano in my father's bar and I lived under the pinball machine. I became interested in learning harmony and I found you could harmonise with notes on the piano in two, three and even four part harmonies."
"At nine, I took up the ukelele and the guitar at fourteen. My parents were both alcoholics, so I had a lot of time to myself. I wanted to be a movie star - something exciting, because I always had a BIG appetite for thrills."
"I got married at 17 for the first time, but my husband was killed going over the Kern River rapids on LSD. The second one is still going over the rapids. While married to the first one, I became an armed robber. I saw a lot of terrible injustice all around me, so I fell in with a bunch of hoodlums to express myself poetically."
"I thought it would be a good memory for later - but I was caught at 18. I went to reform school and became the church organist, where I learnt all my gospel licks."
"When I got out, I went back to college to study music, but I quit after two days. That's where I met my second husband."
"I became a bass player when I moved in with a boyfriend who played it. When I moved out - I was out - playing the guys, because I had a good feeling for bass lines. However, one note soon became boring."
"I married my second husband then, hocked the bass and became a junkie. My habit was running into 150 dollars a day, so I had to do some forgery. I OD'd, but I lived to be arrested for forging cheques."
"It was about then I decided I'd better channel myself toward one goal and put it right at the top so I'd have to reach very hard for it."
"I've had music in my ears since I was born and I wanted to put my efforts into something positive. Music that uplifts the listener. I took all those insatiable hungers and made them pull me forward."
"I learnt how to be subtle in lyrics and started working my way up. I did my first LP in eight days and the Turtles recorded my song, 'Lady-O'. I had an offer from Atlantic, but I decided to wait until Asylum go t under way, rather than be lost on a big label. While I waited for that, I went on the road to get some practice."
"I just want to make great strides now. I've always been dissatisfied with things in the past, but now I'm working toward something as a songwriter. I'm getting a divorce, I haven't plans for any further marriages and Im not political, for there are too many ideas in music to be distracted by these things."
"I still live in Mill Valley, San Francisco and I keep my door shut. The only people I was really influenced by were Bach and Pythagoras."
There you have it and there I got it - the Judee Sill story. She claims to have left the juicy parts out - but might write her memoirs later.
Sound easy? It wasn't. This singer of songs and lady of myriad delights went through the mill to gain the experience she now falls back on for musical inspiration. You have to admit she's crammed a lot of it into her life so far and come a long way with the help of CSN&Y, to name one. You know the story - now dig the album on the Asylum label. Doesn't your life seem just a bit tedious now?
©Lon Goddard, Record Mirror, 8th April 1972
Thanks to David Jennings for sending me the article.