To any Baby Boomer the following songs are part of the soundtrack to their lives..Wedding Bell Blues,Eli’s Coming,Stoned Soul Picnic,Sweet Blindness,Poverty Train,And When I Die. But this is not about who made these songs a top 40 hit but about the writer of these Classic Gems, Laura Nyro, whom I consider, next to Carole King and Joni Mitchell the greatest female Singer/Songwriter of the 60’s/70’s. While 3 Dog night,The 5th Dimension and Blood Sweat And Tears were ripping up the charts they and many others including Barbra Streisand had this Bronx,New York born women to thank for many of their successes.
Born in October 1947 she was surrounded by music as her Father was a Jazz Trumpeter and her Mother a big fan of the early female Jazz singers like Billie Holliday, and Laura took to music like a duck to water as she wound up writing her first song at the age of 8 and wound up going to the prestigious Manhattan School of Art. She was not quite 18 when she wrote and sold the song And When I die to Peter,Paul and Mary for $5,000, and shortly after recorded her first album that wound up supplying a song to Barbra Streisand.
While And When I Die became a big hit for Blood Sweat and Tears, a little know fact is that after the bands Founder Al Kooper left the management team for Tears wanted Laura to be the new singer but when she refused the gig went to David Clayton Thomas and Laura continued as a solo artist.
Two of her albums are considered classics NEW YORK TENDABERRY and my personal favorite ELI AND THE 13th CONFESSION. In her lifetime she recorded 11 studio albums and 7 live albums and 6 compilatipon”best of’ albums. There is a biography of Laura Nyro called Soul Picnic and there is a tribute album, Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro, on which Nyro’s compositions were performed by 14 women singers and groups, including Phoebe Snow, Jill Sobule, Suzanne Vega, Rosanne Cash, Jane Siberry, Lisa Germano, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Patty Larkin. And unfortunately like many before her she passed away too young dying in 1997 of Ovarian Cancer, leaving behind her son and her musical legacy. She was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. And if you must get just one album of her’s I would suggest Eli and the 13th Confession her 1968 classic that contains great material from start to finish with songs like Sweet Blindness,Poverty Train,And Eli’s Coming or you can grab one of her greatest Hits albums and sample her best. Her family maintains a website for her music and you can find it at Laura Nyro