But I am getting ahead of myself here. I have been working on a biopic script of Sills life. The casting I have pitched so far includes Warren Ellis and Seth Rogan as Flo and Eddie (for "Lady-O" era Turtles) and James Franco as David Geffen. Ricky has decided I will play Graham Nash based upon my current resemblance to "Wild Tales" era Nash and my propensity to collect and take photographs. The role of Sills is the tricky proposition. I do know that whoever plays Sills will likely score Oscar gold. The story has such a tragic element to it and for me personally, the locales are all so familiar: the San Fernando Valley, bank robbing arrogant junkies, reform school musicians, prostitution, the Association and the Turtles, Encino, Echo Park, the Trobadour, Souther, Geffen, Mama Cass, Nash, Crosby and a pit stop at the Source. Think "Cisco Pike" meets "Dusty and Sweets McGee" with a sideswipe at Jacques Deray's "Un Homme est mort" (the Outside Man).
Speaking of “The Outside Man/Un homme est mort,” the Jesus freaks of Hollywood Boulevard in the early 1970’s were real and slipped into popular culture worldwide via the then current music and films. "The Outside Man" has some of the best footage of 1971 Los Angeles outside of "Cisco Pike" and "Dusty and Sweets McGee." Starring Ann-Margret, Roy Scheider, Jackie Earle Haley, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Angie Dickinson, the film goes from downtown to LAX, Beverly Hills to Hollywood Boulevard, Santa Monica to Ventura Boulevard. The still below, right there at Hollywood and Vine, shows Jean-Louis Trintignant unknowingly picking up a cartoonish, Jesus freak hitchhiker clad in all denim not long for this life.
How prevalent were these folks on Hollywood Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd and the Sunset Strip? So prevalent that Bernie Taupin after EJ’s Troubadour run latched onto it with the lyrical turn that you couldn’t keep off the radio in 1971: “Jesus freaks out in the street/handing tickets out for God/ Turning back she just laughs, the boulevard is not that bad." Of course, you won’t admit knowing those lines (though Alice Bag might), but they are from “Tiny Dancer" from “Madman Across the Water." Did Geffen think that Sill could clean up with a whole lp of similar lyrics for the jesus and junk crowd?
By chance I recently read a fascinating and wide-ranging 1973 interview with David Geffen and Elliot Roberts in Hit Parader, the sister publication of Rock Scene, and was struck by the image above of Judee Sill, which I don’t think I have seen reproduced since. Seeing that image in the barn archive is what inspired the whole post really. The photo of Sill above is captioned as a Geffen signing for Asylum with no mention of her in the article at all though Geffen in the interview has some harsh words for Grand Funk Railroad and already has dollar signs in his eyes for Frey and Henley who were finished with work on their sophmore lp. GFR deserves their own post for "owning" the rock and roll world along with the Coop circa 1972-73 but are also written out of the history books or derided as mere cartoon rock. Here is a gratuitous scan of my euro 45 from the barn archive:
Then I finally finished Fred Goodman's "The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce," which is highly recommended for an insight into those artists and at other times a nauseating mash note to some of the Boss' handlers. Great Dylan anectdotes and a fuller picture of Landau, John Sinclair and “Back in the USA.” I kept asking myself where the hell was Judee Sill. She's not even mentioned at all in connection with Asylum or Geffen-Roberts management which only merits mention of Young, Henley, Frey, Souther, Jackson Browne and Ned Doheney. While Goodman's tome is highly recommended for those interested in how we get from Albert Grossman to Geffen to the producer credits on "Avatar," the book by now is already totally outdated by the developments in the record industry (a footnote even discusses the profits of the consolidated dinosaur industry where the suggested retail price was $15.98 for a cd - where was Tom Petty when that price was laid on us!) Sill captured the zeitgeist of that time like few others ("Raw Power" among others). She meant it man and she lived it. The records didn’t sell, and as Goodman recounts without mentioning Sill, Geffen was mostly into personally marketing his pretty boy Eagles and Browne, rebuffed her personally as we know and the downward slide to 1979 began. Sill is also absent in the semi-recent "definitive" tome on Laurel Canyon. Where the hell is Judee Sill? Everyone pays homage to her now but she is erased until the recent reissues.
For Sill completeists here is a leftfield source. A&M recording artist and flautist Tim Weisberg is not someone I thought I would give any spotlight to on this page, but nevertheless, he had Sill and Mr. Tommy Pelteir appear on Weisberg 4. Watch how these records disappear from the 25 cents bins. What a beatific glow off that hair and backlighting!!
Not looking unlike the Jesus freaks out of The Outside Man," these folks allowed Sill onto their record. The results clearly speak for Sill as auteur. She owns these tracks and they sound like instrumental interludes off "Heart Food." Enjoy:
Just a couple of extras. Sill on the OGWT 1973:
Two covers of "Jesus Was a Crossmaker." I guess Graham still had some pull with the Hollies on the "Romany" lp and then there is Mama Cass:
As soon as I can rip a version off the Hollies lp I will post it here as it is the superior cover version.
* Mullen's account has been removed from the net in recent years. Hoskyns quoted from it in his 2007 Sill profile in the Guardian. Another individual who links the Masque and the LA introspective singer-songwriter is Beck Hansen. His own work and his grandfather naming the Masque and witnessing his dad record the likes of the Screamers and the Controllers will be the subject of our future interview with Beck .