Judee Sill – The Kiss

“The Kiss” is a song by Judee Sill, second track on her second album Heart Food released in 1973. I heard it on a BBC Radio 4 programme dedicated to the singer and songwriter, whose work was influenced by her difficult youth and her drug habits, as well as Bach, gospel and country music. After two albums, she slid into heroine addiction and died at the age of 35 in 1979. I think that in The Kiss, the words combine to perfection with her music, and her delivery is just beautiful, the long sung notes gradually expanding with her brilliant, understated vocal technique. The harmonies are unusual – the orchestration is hers as well – and take a surprising route to their logical conclusion. I found the track perfect to accompany one of my hang gliding videos – sun, sifting through the grey… like a wind song… sun, sifting through the grey, enter in, reach me with a ray, silently swooping down… while you show me how to fly:

Here are the lyrics from the song:

Love rising from the mists
Promise me this and only this
Holy breath touching me
Like a wind song
Sweet communion of a kiss

Sun, sifting through the grey
Enter in, reach me with a ray
Silently swooping down
Just to show me
How to give my heart away

And once a crystal choir
Appeared while I was sleeping, and called my name
And when they came down nearer
Saying, “Dying is done”
Then a new song was sung
Until somewhere we breathed as one
And still I hear their whisper…

Stars, bursting in the sky
Hear the sad nova’s dying cry
Shimmering memory
Come and hold me
While you show me how to fly

Sun, sifting through the grey
Enter in, reach me with a ray
Silently swooping down
Just to show me
How to give my heart away

And lately sparkling hosts
Come fill my dreams descending on fiery beams
I’ve seen them come clear down
Where our poor bodies lay
Soothe us gently and say
“Gonna wipe all your tears away”
And still I hear their whispering…

Love rising from the mists
Promise me this and only this
Holy breath touching me
Like a wind song
Sweet communion of a kiss