Judee Sill: Five Best Songs

Judee Sill was a 1970s singer and songwriter from California. Her gentle songs, inspired musically by Bach and laced with religious imagery, were at odds with her tumultuous lifestyle. She spent time in prison for armed robbery and learnt music while serving as Church organist at reform school.

I’ve recently covered Sill’s discography – here are five of my favourite songs from her two studio albums.

#5 – Crayon Angels
from Judee Sill (1971)

Crayon Angel songs are slightly out of tune
But I’m sure I’m not to blame

#4 – The Lamb Ran Away With The Crown
from Judee Sill (1971)

So I drew my sword and got ready
but the lamb ran away with the crown

#3 – The Kiss
from Heart Food (1973)

Holy breath touching me, like a wind song
Sweet communion of a kiss

#2 – Jesus Was A Cross Maker
from Judee Sill (1971)

Produced by Graham Nash, ‘Jesus Was A Cross Maker’ is more commercially produced than Sill’s other work, with a crisp rhythm section adding dynamism to Sill’s lilting melody. The song was inspired by Sill’s relationship with Eagles associate JD Souther.

Sweet silver angels over the sea
Please come down flyin’ low for me

#1 – The Donor

Based on the traditional Church piece ‘Kyrie Eleison ‘, ‘The Donor’ is eight intense minutes of multi-tracked Sills in choral arrangements.

Now songs from so deep
While I’m sleepin’ 

Are you a Judee Sill fan? Do you have a favourite?


  1. Judee Sill’s work is extremely stately, but dark and mysterious. Even on simple folk songs like on the “Heart Food” opener “There’s A Rugged Road”, she sings with a melodic, mysterious tone.

  2. Someone who’s music I’ve yet to get to and Heart Food has been on my list a while. This stuff here is really quite something…

  3. A strange person, for sure, but maybe that contributed to her brilliance. I saw her at the Royal Albert Hall in London, supporting Roy Harper, in 1973. I had her first album on vinyl, then forgot about her for 30 years before suddenly getting back into her. Among her very distinguished peers (Jackson Brown, J. D. Souther et al) she is regarded as the best of them all.
    As for the religious aspect in many of her songs, I think she was close to being a Christian but couldn’t quite take the final step. She liked the imagery, the way some non-believer couples like to be married in church-like places (university chapels etc.) but want no mention of God. Best not to even try to analyse her lyrics.
    Favourite song: The Lamb Ran Away With The Crown.

    • Roy Harper and Judee Sill seems like a pretty cool double bill. It’s not entirely surprising she went off the rails at times, given her background – but it’s definitely a fascinating juxtaposition of beautiful songs filled with religious imagery with a troubled life.

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