segunda-feira, 13 de janeiro de 2014

Judee Still - Abracadabra


Judee Sill - Abracadabra


 Após sua morte, na mais completa obscuridade,  ganhou em sua biografia a seguinte qualificação:  "a former prostitute and reformed junkie" (ex-prostituta e viciada)  e há quem considere que deveria ser acrescentado: "drug dealer" (traficante). Sendo assim, acrecente-se também: ex-presidiária.

 Cantora de voz angelical admiradora de J.S.Bach, em quem se inspirava, profundamente mística, acompanhava-se geralmente, apenas por sua guitarra acústica, Sill usava sua música como forma de elevação transcendental no despertar da consciência Crística.

01. Crayon Angels
02. The Phantom Cowboy
03. The Archetypal Man
04. The Lamb Ran Away with The Crown
05. Lady-O
06. Jesus was a Crossmaker
07. Ridge Rider
08. My Man on Love
09. Lopin’ Thru The Cosmos
10. Enchanted Sky Machines
11. Abracadabra  

         Leia matéria completa sobre Judee Still   

Judee Sill (1944 – 1979) was one of the most interesting American singer-songwriters of the 1970s, though she released only two albums and then disappeared from the music scene. She was a very talented, spiritual woman with a tragic life. A junkie and hooker, Sill wrote gentle, divine songs inspired musically by J. S. Bach and lyrically by mystic literature, especially by the idea of Jesus as a longed-for lover. Often accompanying her clear voice with just her acoustic guitar, Sill made music that seemed more suited to a small chapel than onstage at a club. As Jim O'Rourke put it: "Her songs were simultaneously personal and incredibly grand. If people sang this stuff in church a lot of us might still be there."
On the day after Thanksgiving 1979, Judee Sill, a 35-year-old singer-songwriter, deeply depressed and physically broken, took an overdose of opiates and cocaine in her North Hollywood apartment. The Los Angeles coroner ruled Sill's death a suicide, but those who knew her better have contended that the "note" found near her body -- a meditation on rapture, the hereafter and the innate mystery of life -- may just have been part of a diary entry or, perhaps, another one of her haunted, haunting songs beginning to take shape.
When Sill died, both of her albums for Asylum Records -- Judee Sill (1971) and Heart Food (1973) -- were long out of print; eight tracks recorded in 1974 for a third album had never been finished. Such was the obscurity to which Sill had fallen in 1979 that no obituary was published, and a number of her friends never knew what happened to her until many years had passed. Tom King's The Operator, a 650-page biography of David Geffen, who founded Asylum and signed Sill as the first artist to record on his new label, devotes only one sentence to her, calling her "a former prostitute and reformed junkie."
King might have added "stick-up artist," "drug dealer" and "street hustler" to his capsule biography, for Sill led a troubled and unsettled life. And yet, as a two-CD reissue from Rhino Records U.K., titled Abracadabra: The Asylum Years, makes clear, she was also an artist of extraordinary gifts, one whose best songs are suffused with a radiant, prayerful and excruciatingly tender innocence, all the more affecting because it must have been so hard-won.
The immediate temptation is to classify her with some of her more famous contemporaries -- Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Carole King -- and, indeed, the similarities are there. Yet Sill's body of work is both more limited and more perfect. Virtually all of her songs are intensely devotional; along with J.S. Bach and Mahalia Jackson (two of her acknowledged influences), Sill believed that the purpose of music was the glorification of God. Instead of sharply etched social vignettes or cosmopolitan evocations of modern life and love, she wrote her own sort of hymns -- guileless, urgent, naked, absolutely personal.
Sill's lyrics might be described as high hippie Christian, cries of "Kyrie eleison!" ("Lord, have mercy") melding with references to angels and astral planes. According to Michele Kort, the author of Rhino's excellent liner notes, Sill insisted she wrote "country-cult-baroque -- country for the pedal-steel guitar, clip-clop Western beats and the twang in her voice; cult for the esoteric nature of her concerns and her small-but-fervent audience; and baroque for the Bach-like melodies she favored."
She was born on October 7, 1944, in Studio City, California, which is in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. When she was still very young, the family moved to Oakland, where her father owned and operated a tavern called Bud's Bar. "That's where I started playing piano and found out I could harmonize with myself," Sill told Rolling Stone in 1972. "But even back then I knew something was wrong, that I was missing out on having a normal life. It was so seedy in the bar, you know -- people were always fighting and puking, there was illegal gambling, and my parents drank a lot."
Her father was also an importer of rare animals, mainly reptiles. Judee remembered him as a dashing, "Indiana Jones" kind of guy. He took his family on extended collecting expeditions into Mexico and South America. Judee adored him. When she was about 9 years old he suddenly died of a heart attack. Her mother soon remarried, this time to Kenneth Muse, an award-winning animator for Tom & Jerry, so the family moved back to LA. Judee saw her mother as a traitor and hated Muse from the start: she called him "mean, dumb, narrow-minded -- he used to beat dogs."
In high school Judee was part of a clique of wealthy, rebellious teens, who thought of themselves as "hip and cool". At 15 she succumbed to the charms of an older man who happened to be 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." Together this Bonnie and Clyde of the Valley held up gas stations and liquor stores, stick-ups that got him a jail sentence and Sill nine months in a girls' reform school where she learnt to play the church organ.
Enrolling in 1963 at San Fernando Valley Junior College, where she majored in art, Sill played piano in the orchestra, but after the summer of 1964 she flunked out of college. Orphaned when Oneta Muse died of cancer in the early winter of 1965, she was now alone in the world -- her only brother was killed in a car crash soon after her father's death. She began to dabble with heroin, which she called "the black peace" as opposed to "the white peace", cocaine, in the company of keyboard player and her future husband and producer Bob Harris.
Arrested for forging cheques, Sill spent some time in jail. While there, she began writing songs, one of which -- "Dead Time Bummer Blues" -- was recorded by LA garage band The Leaves.
At the end of the '60s, Sill was performing herself in local dives while studiously writing songs. When Jim Pons left The Leaves and joined The Turtles, he continued to champion Sill: their final single in 1969 was a wondrous version of her "Lady-O", on which she played guitar. At that point, Geffen -- who was already managing Nyro, Mitchell, Jackson Browne and Crosby, Stills and Nash -- spotted her playing sets at various Hollywood clubs and offered Sill the chance to make her own album on his newly founded Asylum Records, the label that would epitomize mellow West Coast rock.
Judee Sill, an album of 11 original songs, was issued in 1971. Its immediate impact came from the purity of her voice, oblique lyricism and bewitching, hymn-like songs. Well-received, the album still wound up marginalized, despite the Graham Nash-produced "Jesus Was a Cross Maker" being heavily promoted.
Heart Food, which appeared two years later, had the same lyrical deviance but more stunning musicality, swathed in expansive Bach-like arrangements and exquisite vocal harmonies. Closing song "The Donor" grew into an epic choral requiem intoning "Kyrie Eleison". It's as if Sill was writing her own epitaph.
Heart Food suffered poor sales and diminished critical response. Sill's lyrics, displaying a deep philosophical core that reflected her fascination with theosophy (she had a complete collection of Blavatsky works), alchemy and obscure literature, failed to engage people. She wasn't kidding, telling NME in 1971 that her influences were "Bach, Pythagoras and Ray Charles."
On the sleeve of her first album Judee wrote "David Geffen, I love you", but by the release of Heart Food her feelings towards him had changed. By now, Sill was feuding with the mogul, who dropped her from his label after her second album sold wretchedly. (Some say her career ended due to a falling out with Geffen over her alleged outing of him.) The eight further songs she worked on recording during 1974 were never finished and would be released only in 2005 on a two CD compilation Dreams Come True, mixed by the versatile musician-composer-producer and long-time Sill's aficionado Jim O'Rourke.
Sill was a complex poet and person. The minute she started singing she was transported into a heavenly world, but in mundane life she could be selfish, arrogant, sometimes wicked and full of vile jokes. Like her kindred spirit on Asylum, Laura Nyro, Sill was bisexual. She had a few female lovers, but she professed to disdain them: "I just have her around to clean my house" was a mocking comment. In fact, she had an emotional need for women, which became the dominant direction of her bisexuality as she entered her middle thirties.
By that time, a series of automobile accidents had destroyed her back. Surgery made things worse, and she spent her last years in chronic pain. Because she was a convicted drug user, doctors were reluctant to prescribe medication strong enough to ease her suffering, and so she scored again on the street. And then she took an overdose.
In 2006, Rhino U.K. released the definitive two-CD collection of Judee Sill’s two Asylum albums Judee Sill and Heart Food complete with outtakes and several live performances plus some previously unreleased recordings. Judee Sill features 10 additional tracks. These include "The Pearl" and "The Phoenix" which were left off the album to make way for the late addition recording of a new song, "Jesus Was a Cross Maker". The remaining seven tracks were recorded live at Boston Music Hall on October 3, 1971. They were recorded at the same time as recording the headline act of David Crosby and Graham Nash. Heart Food adds the previously unreleased outtake, "The Desperado", along with eight solo demos for the album itself.

"A Brief Life, an Enduring Musical Impression", by Tim Page, The Washington Post, December 2006
"The Lost Child", by Barney Hoskyns, The Observer, December 2004
"Spirited Away", by Mick Houghton, Uncut, April 2005

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