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.

greybooties

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.

knitted

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.

blackbra

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.

sample

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

 

 

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wall03

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thanks

#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.

sample

Failure

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.”

“Oh?”

‘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

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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.

samples

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.