Down Where The Valleys Are Low: Another Otherworld For Judee
Judee Sill's eponymous 1972 debut was the first released on David Geffen's Asylum Records. She was championed early on by J.D. Souther and Graham Nash. She cited, as her major influences, Pythagoras, Bach, and Ray Charles, and her stated ambition was to "become the world's greatest songwriter." A second album followed in 1973, but she fell out of favor with Geffen, was dropped from the label, drifted into obscurity, and died at 35 from a drug overdose.
Judee Sill never really fit in to the hip SoCal music scene. She came up hard, suffered abuse from her mother and stepfather, fell in with petty criminals, robbed liquor stores and gas stations, was arrested and sent to a reformatory, became a junkie and prostituted herself to support her habit. But she also developed her own religious philosophy and believed that, "Out of the mud a lotus grows." That lotus was her music - she composed, arranged, played, and sang with a celestial elegance.
For Wolff, the original pristine Sill recordings didn't seem to be the right platform to support the demons and gods that dueled in her head. Judee's music was strong enough to withstand a rougher, darker treatment. It seemed to him that it was almost asking for it. Wolff has used Sill's words and melodies as parts of a portrait illuminating the angry, cruel, beautiful, complicated, dangerous woman that she was.
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