Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Forgotten Voice

Everyone should go to iTunes Essentials and get the complete set of Laura Nyro. Yes, the complete set. I was so amazed, once again, at her accomplishments---the number of songs she wrote, the breadth of her ideas, the big fun of it all, the serious nature of her political songs, the sheer vitality of her music. Like her mother, she died young at the age of 49 of ovarian cancer. One wonders what she would be writing today. When the US attacked Iraq for the second time, I played "Save the Country" on my way to work, off and on for months---"...ain't gonna study war no more /save the country / save the children."

Nyro certainly rivals Carol King as the queen of pop. Carol King is so much more recognized for that period of time that some of Nyro's songs are frequently attributed to Carol King! A multitude of Nyro's songs were covered by other performers whose recordings were so successful that people attributed the songs to those performers. So Nyro failed to receive the popular recognition she deserves.

Stone Soul Picnic
I Met Him on a Sunday
Wedding Bell Blues
Up on the Roof
New York Tendaberry
You've Got a Hold on Me
Save the Country!
I Never Meant to Hurt You
Jimmy Mack

The list just goes on and on. And the voice must be heard. So wonderful and fresh. And you've got to love the innocence of the backups, reminding me of the simplicity of earlier pop music, as contrasted to the overproduced noise we hear today. Then of course there is the proliferation of the synthetic pop star "brand." These owned properties that are unable to hang out there without a net, a focus group, a cast of managers, an entourage, exposed flesh, a hundred and twenty recording tracks for over-dubbing and a big , big sound editing board to mix their voice into oblivion. Laura Nyro was simply making harmony and music. You can hear that vibe so clearly.

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