Nyro Redux

I first heard a Laura Nyro (1947–1997) song without knowing it was hers. That was Stoned Soul Picnic performed by The Fifth Dimension – then When I Die by Blood Sweat & Tears. These were songs that stood out from the other work by these groups. In Cape Breton her lps weren’t easy find as she had no hits beyond these cover versions. I think my first lps of hers was Smile & Nested – amazing comforting music not as melodramatic as her earlier works.

I have either as mp3 or strand alone: The First Songs 1967, Eli & The 13th Confession 1968, New York Tendaberry 1969, Christmas & The Beads of Sweat 1970, Gonna Take A Miracle 1971, Smile 1976, Season of Lights live 1977, Nested 1978, Mother’s Spiritual 1984, Angel in the Dark 94-95, Essential 2000, Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro 2014.

She started as a powerhouse hits writer, but by her 1970 she was running out of stream & also wanted to move her music is more introspective direction. So there was five year break where she retrench, married, had children, divorced, moved out of New York city & returned to the studio for two of my favourites Smile & Nested – sweet gentle warm music that didn’t sell well. She lost interest in the music business. Settled down with the love of her life, another woman. I’ve blogged about Laura before & she was a music genius the music business couldn’t dictate to & like some others from the them (Janis Ian) she followed her own muse. The Essentials is a great place to start – or get the Fifth Dimensions Hit 🙂

The mp 3 collection also contains: Burl Ives: 20th Century Masters including – Ghost Riders In The Sky – a favourite of my Dad’s which I had to have. A couple by Ian & Sylvia: Nashville – Ballad of an Ugly Man, Full Circle – Women’s World. I loved these when I had them at vinyl. Two of the best Canadian lps you’ll ever have.

More Canadiana with Gordon Lightfoot’s first that included Ribbon of Darkness. Just for fun Donovan: The EP Collection. The Ep format was very popular in Europe – 4 to 6 songs on a small sized 33.3 – some never released on lips & some with different mixes. Finally Myke Mazzei’s Live At Amsterdam Bicycle Club, includes Nobody’s Saviour. This goes back some 10 years ago & it a sweet set by a talented Toronto singer/songwriter. 

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Randy Newman

Randy Newman’s Sail Away was one of my favourite ‘adult’ pop lps from the 70’s. I say adult, as it wasn’t aimed at the same market as Grand Funk Railroad or even Don McLean. The songs were political ‘In America’ or adult sexy ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’ with pointed lyrics & more than two chords. I also have his ‘Little Criminals’- more for he with a more pop sound but still rather dark lyrics. 

His songs were covered by everyone at one time – much as Laura Nyro was – Three Dog Night, Nilsson, even Barbra Streisand had a go at them. His populist leanings lead him to film music, so he has received twenty-two Academy Award nominations in the Best Original Score and Best Original Song categories and has won twice.

This mp3 cd collection also includes: Harry Nilsson’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, Nilsson Sings Newman (1970 – all Newman covers & Pussy Cats (with John Lennon). Cats is a fun mess. More about Nilsson when I get to Ni. The lp of Newman covers is excellent if a bit too respectful.

I am not what you would call a Barbra Streisand fan, but I do like her 1971 Stoney End which includes songs by Newman, Nilsson & Nyro. It was considered a flop by her Broadway fan base but has since been ‘reappraised.’ Her choice of material is impeccable & the arrangements are not saturated with strings but allow the music to stand on its own. None of her over-singing for emotive milking makes this worth hunting down. 

Van Dyke Parks’ Song Cycle is a legendary lp from 1967 which I finally download from iTunes in 2017. Till then I had never heard it but read it referred so often I took a chance. It is not psychedelic or even rock. After all Parks co-wrote one of Sinatra’s biggest hits. There’s also a Newman song in the set, so it fits in here. Sweet, comforting music.

Andrew Gold is one of those almost stars who produced some amazing lps but never quite caught the fame wave. His ‘Thank You For Being A Friend’ was the theme for Golden Girls – he had songs on hit lps by Linda Ronstadt ‘You’re No Good’ but never broke big himself. On this mp3 I have his What’s Wrong With This Picture. Lonely Boy is an amazing song that captures some of my own growing up fears & emotions.

Mojo: Sgt Pepper Knew My Father – is a 1988 tribute to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the original release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on 1 June 1967. A track-by-track cover by bands like Wet Wet Wet, Sonic Youth etc. Great fun. I used to buy Mojo for these special editions cds. I was so keen to being up on on the music back in the day. Today I don’t care 🙂 I can’t remember that last time I bought a music magazine & you know, I don’t miss them. But I do miss the Beatles.

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We Insist!

A link to a YouTube video of We Insist! an amazing 1961 jazz lp by Max Roach that featured wife Abbey Lincoln lead me to download that lp along with a couple of other lps by Abbey: That’s Him; Golden Lady. We Insist! is a powerful black rights statement backed with dynamic music & vocals. When I think of 60’s protest music sweet folk songs like Blowin’ In The Wind comes to mind but We Insist! is not folk music – the sense of struggle & urgency dominates & propels the music in a way that most protest music of the time never managed. Lincoln’s voice is strong. Him & Lady are not as ‘revolutionary’ but are great introductions to anyone stepping into jazz vocalists for the first time.

On this mp3 collection there is a mix of female vocalists – all different styles, eras, fames & countries. Staring with Mireille Mathieu’s Les Grandes  Chansons Francaises. Mireille has a wonderful resonant emotional voice. As the title suggests this is a set of ultra-famous French songs i.e. ‘Non je ne regrette rien’. Her version of La mer is astonishing – search it out on YouTube. I want her version of ‘Ne me quite pas’ played as people leave my memorial service.

The totally unknown folk singer Michele is here with her Saturn Rings. A pleasant voice, some unexpectedly psychedelic accompaniment for a set of love songs, pleas for Mother Earth that got lost in the shuffle of the likes of Joan Baez & Judy Collins. Another lost in the shuffle is Barbara & Ernie’s Prelude To. This is a gentle, relaxing but sexy r’n’b duo making good massage music.


Finally I added Laura Nyro’s New York Tendaberry to this compilation. I love Laura Nyro & have nearly everything so I won’t say much more than this a great lp by her, not one of her strongest – but even at her weakest she is worth hearing. More about her when I get to ’n.’

The Circle of Strife

John sneered at Betty. Betty flipped Jasmine the bird. Jasmine gave Frank a dirty look.Frank didn’t leave a tip for Gwen. Gwen short changed Bill. Bill called Abdul a terrorist shit head. Abdul told Fatima to shut the fuck up. Fatima pinched Ryan. Ryan shoved Rachel getting on the subway. Rachel went home and smacked the baby Patrick. Patrick cried and cried and woke up Ted. Ted kicked his dog Rover. Rover chewed up Barbara’s favorite shoes. Barbara didn’t feel Gary’s work was up to snuff and told him. Gary spilled his coffee at lunch at Maria’s del

Maria shouted for Paco to clean up that mess. Paco wanted to kill Delorosa his mother. Delorosa didn’t wait for Greg. Greg was rushed and slammed the car door on Tina’s coat. Tina didn’t show up for her date with Mike. Mike waited and waited and bought drugs from Carla. Carla needed more money from Jeff. Jeff took an extra twenty from Deb’s purse.  Deb didn’t have enough to pay the bar bill . Larry felt she was playing him

Larry barked at Gina. Gina went crying to her boyfriend Philip. Philip punched Marg the bartender in the face. Marg pulled out a knife and cut Phil’s brother Brian. Brian pulled out his gun and shot Sgt Tracy O’Brian, one of the cops who came to quiet things down. John sneered at Betty for being afraid of guns.


April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre


Richard III – Stratford Festival


June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.


All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

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Laura Nyro Genius

Let me state that I think Laura Nyro is a genius. Her story is amazing, tragic, uplifting & she deserves to be more than a top 40 footnote. Her songs are amazing, tragic, uplifting and often challenging. Things that a pop diva was not supposed to be and then she got buried. Oh, yes, she was lesbian, too – which may account for her premature burial.

save the children’s booties

In my collection I have: Eli & The 13th Confession; Gonna Take A Miracle; New York Tendaberry; Smile; Nested. And a tribute album: Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro. Plus many of the hit covers by Fifth Dimension, Blood, Sweat & Tears (& others) of her songs: ‘Stone Soul Picnic,’ ‘Save The Children,’ ‘When I Die.’

Laura wrote soulful but pure pop music – her recordings are dynamic. Her vocals are astonishing, compelling & delightful. Like Janis Ian she started in her teens, made it big fast, then pulled back. Drugs, sex & rock’n’roll producers got in the way. Her early work is full of sweet horn work, almost gospel momentum, deep heart lyrics ‘Lonely Women’ & arraignments to weep for. She knew what she wanted & the men in industry didn’t like that, I guess. Those songs of her that were hits were almost note for note replications of her charts.

miracle of the scrunchie

Her best charting single was from “Miracle’ the lp she recorded with Labelle – it was Up On The Roof’ a Carol King song from this great set of covers. Her work was always challenging too – Tendaberry is raw, almost frighteningly direct at times. Her live album Lights is excellent.

She dropped out of sight for a few year & resurfaced mellower with Smile & Nested: two of most romantic, emotionally seductive albums I can think of. Her later Mother’s Spiritual & the posthumous Angel in The Dark show her matured musically, some covers of her favourites, originals with various approaches, her alone on piano, some horn & strings – very Steely Dan at times. Tori Amos owns her a deep debt. All of them are highly recommend.

wet & black

The tribute album doesn’t really reimagine her as much as I would have expected. Sweetly jazz for the most part but too respectful & tasteful. But those songs are timeless. Her death in 1998 was too early.


Sweet Smell of Success

‘Jill, did you do this?’

‘Why Mr. Nunn? Is there something wrong with it?’

Jill was never comfortable when confronted by her supervisor. Especially when the supervisor was holding the file she had worked on the day before. Jill became defensive, insecure.

‘It is good work. It looks like you are ready for something more complex.’

More complex! Jill felt her heart beat faster.

‘Well, yes after a year in this department you must be familiar with things around here. This basic stuff is for the newer staff to cut their teeth on.’

‘But … ’ Jill didn’t think her teeth were sharp enough yet to tackle anything more than she had been accustomed to these past several months. The work demanded just enough most of the time and for the first time since getting this job she began to feel she could handle it.

‘You don’t seem to have much confidence in your abilities.’ The supervisor put the folder down.

After years of being told she was stupid, lazy, fat, unattractive she never trusted people who told her the opposite. She immediately began to suspect their motivations. Men who told her she was attractive just to nudge her towards her purse moments later; men who would be gone if she had no money for more booze or cigarettes; men who would only seek to satisfy themselves and then leave her; men who she would hear snicker to their buddies when she entered Moe’s Tavern; men who would tell her they really weren’&t keen to be seen with a fat stupid bitch like her.

Now her boss, who smelt so clean and fresh, was telling her she did good work only to follow that up with what he was really after. To make her work harder, to demand more of her than she was ready to give, to demand more without giving her anything in return.

‘Thanks Mr. Nunn but I’m pretty happy doing this stuff.’ she smiled up at him.

‘Why? Your last job review said you were capable of much more. Don’t you want to get ahead in this company.’

Ha, she laughed to herself, get ahead by giving head. I know what you’re really after and I won’t put up with it or put out to get it.

‘I realize that Mr. Nunn but I’d like to stick with what I know till I think I’m ready. Can’t I make that decision for myself?’

Last year’s queer music blogs:

June 2 Billy Strayhorn http://wp.me/p1RtxU-L0

June 9 ‘Hangin’ On The Telephone’ http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Ll

June 16 Tea Room Tramps http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Mg

June 23 Ned Rorem http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Mx


#JoanBaez to #LadyGaga

One might think I was a Joan Baez fan but the number of her recordings I have. On one mp3 collection I have Baez & Farewell, Angelina; along with with Merrilee Rush: Angel of the Morning; Sandy Posey: The Very Best Of; Laura Nyro: First Songs; Jackie DeShannon: Laurel Canyon; Streisand: ButteryFly; Laurie Anderson: Big Science.

On another I have Baptism, Any Day Now; along with Lady Gaga: Born This Way; Robyn & Röyksopp; Sinead O’Connor: I’m Not Bossy; Laura Nyro: Reimagined. Plus a stand alone: Day After Tomorrow. Both mp3 collections have either a historic context or span.

shed03 shed art

I’ve always found Joan’s voice to be pure & strong but unemotional. The early folk lps sounded more like folklorist work than expressive. Baptism is one of the finest anti-war lps I’ve heard; Any Day is her take on various Dylan songs; Day After is from 2008 & her pipes are still strong.

In the 60’s many people dismissed her as riding Dylan’s coat tails to fame, whereas by the time she met him she was already a major folk figure & boosted his career in fact. I read Richard Farina’s books & discovered she was rich from her music & sharing her bounty in very generous ways.

shed02 shed art

Rush has a fine pop voice & does lots of covers of great 60’s pop stuff but never survived her one big hit. Posey: another fine, more country, voice who sang two of the most non-PC songs every recorded: A Single Girl, Born A Woman – youtube them. DeShannon another sweet sixties voice lost to that one big hit. Streisand has one of those amazing voices, more emotional than Baez. ButterFly is a pop, as opposed to show tune, lp – she does Bowie! Laurie Anderson: I remember how wowed the world was by this first lp of her’s – holds up still & made a nice end to this cd: from Baez to Anderson.

shed01 shed art

The other cd gets more modern quickly with Lady Gaga – propulsive dance pop with great pipes. Robyn – great voice but, like Baez, emotionally distant. Sinead returns with this new recording which is fine if undistinguished. Her voice is too buried in the mix for me & often double-tracked – lacks the emotional punch of her debut.

Finally Laura Nyro – more about her when I get to the n’s – but this woman is a song-writing goddess with an amazing voice.



Once the merger was complete Phipps knew his revenge would also be complete.

“Miss Jackson, would you bring in in the Chryslater Report please.” He spoke into the intercom.

“It’s on your desk already.” Came the reply.

Oh Christ! So it was. With all his attention so focused on his objective he was beginning to miss the little things. If that continued this whole scheme was doomed to failure. It wouldn’t fail, he knew that. But if he wasn’t on top of every tiny little detail it wouldn’t be as grand a failure as he wanted it to be.

He looked down at his lap top and scrolled through the last two acquisitions that would start the ball rolling. He sent a buy command for the first and a sell command to the second. He could almost feel the rumble in his finger tips as they darted over the keyboard.

Miss Jackson appeared at the door at that very moment.

“Yes, Miss Jackson?”

‘There’s a George Grant to see you sir.’

“Ah, yes. Send him in.”

“But you said …”

“I know what I said but I can change my mind can’t I.”

George Grant entered the room.

“Thank you for seeing me sir.  I’ve been trying to get in touch with you for some time. It is a matter of the utmost urgency.”

“Really. I’m sorry. Please sit down.”

A beeper went on off in George’s suit coat pocket.

“Answer it. Please. I can wait.” Phipps sat smug behind his desk.

George answered the call. He turned his back and walked to one of the corners. He put the cell phone back in his pocket as he turned around.

“I see, Mr Phipps that my visit has been a waste of my time.”


‘The deal has been done. I hope you are satisfied.”

“I’m always satisfied young man. Rarely am I disappointed. Though in matter such as this, timing is of the essence. Don’t you think. One has to make them wait just the right length of time to marinate in their own little plots fears and worries and then when it reaches the right point – put an end to their misery.”

“Very eloquently put. Though I certainly trust you haven’t started something you can’t finish.”

“It is finished now though isn’t it? Isn’t that what your little insider pals were telling you just now on the telephone?”

“Well, sir, no. They were telling me that they had successfully diverted your lap top to eBay. You just bought 4000 Pokemon key chains and not the last 4000 shares of my company.”

reddoor red door

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


Fiona Apple

In the mid-90’s Fiona Apple washed over the music world with Tidal – a critical darling, hot on Much Music and ready to be propelled into super-stardom and then sort of disappeared. Fame was too fast, she was too young, the same old story, and her follow up tanked.

boot02 boots at night

Tidal lives up to the hype. I bought it Jan 97 and played a dozen times in following month. Fiona has a strong, alto voice that gives her lyrics a strong emotional grounding. Her videos, as I remember, played up her bruised waif, Lolita image – sexually knowing but innocent at the same time.

boot01 booted off the curb

The music, to me, is adult pop – sometimes a bit over-arranged but with seductive jazz undertones that captivated me. The same resonance in her lyrics – romantic, teasing, verging on emo but the jazziness keeps it from going there.

boot03 free booting in daylight

She reminded me Laura Nyro in musical bravado, Janis Ian for the bare heart romanticism. I’ve had some of her other recordings but passed them on after a few listenings. Maybe it was the sound engineering but the sound quality didn’t grab my ears the way it did on that first release.


Quel Dommage


some teacher

over heard me singing

Dominique Dominique

which was all I could remember of that song

it was an endlessly played

hit song in the 60’s

a sweet nun singing her way

to the top of the charts

trouncing the beatles and the stones

I would add

Michelle ma belle

when I got bored of Dominique Dominique

not knowing more than those scraps

the teacher said

something to the effect

that I had an ear for French

so when I got to high-school

and French was taught

because it was an official language

I quickly discovered

that my spelling

ortografe   orthographe  in French

was as bad as it was in English

how was I going to learn another language

when I had a struggle with my own

when you talk

no one cares wether you

can spell what you say

you don’t need commas in conversation


the French teachers

would often go

from school to school

one we reduced to tears

nearly every class

by we I mean

some guys in the class

who took a delight in being rowdy

while they o-o-ogled her boobs

‘les tits’ they snickered

so I blame my limited French

on those guys

who made impossible for the teacher

to teach what I didn’t want to learn

in the first place

quel dommage

green growing up green

this marks my 301st blog post & my 80th for this year.