Triple Played: Contributions to rock by Laura Nyro
A customer called the other day to see if he could get another copy of the seven-CD Duane Allman anthology “Skydog,” which had an original release limited to 10,000 copies and quickly sold out.
Lucky for him, it has just been re-issued because of demand.
And while he was placing an order, this customer also got the five-CD “Original Album Classics” set from Laura Nyro.
Many of you may not know who Nyro was, but I would bet that you know more than one of her songs.
I first became familiar with Nyro’s work through Three Dog Night’s recording of her classic “Eli’s Coming.”
Although Three Dog Night didn’t write its own songs the band could spot a good song, which gave exposure and success to many great songwriters early in their careers.
Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, Elton John, Hoyt Axton, Paul Williams, John Hiatt, Allen Toussaint and Nyro were just some of the artists covered by Three Dog Night between 1969 and 1973.
Nyro released her first LP, the aptly titled “More Than a New Discovery,” in 1967 and it contained two songs, “Blowin’ Away” and “Wedding Bell Blues,” that were hits for the Fifth Dimension. It also contained “When I Die,” which was covered by Blood Sweat and Tears, as well as “Stoney End,” which was a hit for Barbra Streisand.
I’ve never been a big fan of Streisand, but I always liked that song. I didn’t realize Nryo wrote it until a few years ago.
In my opinion, the best version of “Stoney End” was a performance of the song by Sara Bareilles at the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. Bette Midler inducted Nyro into the hall posthumously, and Midler could not get through her speech without breaking up.
Nyro died in 1997 of ovarian cancer. You can see the induction speech and Bareilles incredible cover of “Stoney End” on Youtube, and I recommend that you do. You can also hear it during the first hour of this week’s Acoustic Sunday radio show.
David Crosby said on the “Troubadours of the Folk Era” DVD that an artist has several years and sometimes a lifetime to come up with that first record but “it’s the second record when you find out how good they really are.”
I am here to tell you that Nyro’s second record, “Eli and the Thirteenth Confession,” is her best. It certainly is my favorite record of hers as she reminded me of a combination of Carole King, Mama Cass and Spanky McFarlane.
Even though “Eli” contains two more songs that were hits for the Fifth Dimension, “Stone Soul Picnic” and “Sweet Blindness” as well as Eli’s Coming, the other songs on the record are as good or better than the hits. That is what is so appealing to me about Nyro’s music.
Nyro’s next four albums, “New York Tendaberry,” “Christmas and the Beads of Sweat” and “Gonna Take A Miracle,” are all very good albums and feature such gems as “Save The Country,” “Sweet Lovin’ Baby,” “Christmas in My Soul,” “Stormy Love” and “Midnight Blue.”
“Christmas and the Beads of Sweat” is my second favorite album by Nyro. Maybe that’s because Allman and Felix Cavaliere were part of that soulful and bluesy record as well as many great session musicians.
If you haven’t really listened to Nyro I think you are missing out on some great music.