Brilliant Laura Nyro! Todd Rundgren’s Muse! Their Beautiful Musical History Together!

Celebrating One Of Music’s Greatest Singer / Songwriters!

laura_nyro

Meet Laura Nyro, one of music’s great talents. For Todd Rundgren fans, Nyro is a big part of his musical life. First, let’s talk about Laura: she was a musical prodigy – by age 17, she had written the classic “And When I Die,” which was a huge hit for the band Blood, Sweat and Tears.

laura-nyro-7

Laura Nyro was a songwriting machine in the late 60’s. Two other big hits were “Wedding Bell Blues” and “Stoned Soul Picnic,” both recorded by The Fifth Dimension. Here is Laura’s original version:

LauraNyro

Nyro’s lively vocals give her songs unexpected energy – a freeform love of melody. Nyro wrote lots of memorable songs, and provided hit singles for others, like “Blowin’ Away,” “Save The Country,” and “Sweet Blindness,” all hits for The Fifth Dimension.

Laura Nyro greatest female songwriters

Three Dog Night?!?!?!?????

Most surprising to me, Laura wrote “Eli’s Comin’”, which became a smash hit for the group Three Dog Night! It’s funny that she is warning girls about a guy, yet it is a guy who made the song a smash hit!

“Eli’s comin’, hide your heart, girl
Girl, Eli’s a-comin’, you better hide
Girl, Eli’s a-comin’, you better hide
Girl, Eli’s a-comin’, you better hide
Girl, Eli’s comin’, hide your heart, girl (hide it)
You better, better hide your heart
Eli’s comin’, better walk

Walk but you’ll never get away
No, you’ll never get away from the burnin’ a-heartache…”

Here’s Laura’s beautiful, bluesy version:

greatest female songwriters

And, for you completists, here is a live version courtesy of Three Dog Night!

Three+Dog+Night+Eli's+Coming

Aside from Three Dog Night, Nyro also wrote “Stoney End” for Barbra Streisand. “She wrote the most unexpected songs,” observer Stereo Review, “a dazzling display of lyrical and musical innovation that gave her music a fresh feeling….”

Here is her original version of “Stoney End”:

greatest female singers

Here’s a quote from Laura on her songwriting technique:

“I’m not interested in conventional limitations when it comes to my songwriting. For instance, I may bring a certain feminist perspective to my songwriting, because that’s how I see life. I’m interested in art, poetry, and music. As that kind of artist, I can do anything. I can say anything. It’s about self-expression. It knows no package – there’s no such thing. That’s what being an artist is.”

Laura Nyro music

“Eli And The Thirteenth Confession”!

I first got hooked on Laura when I read Todd’s biography. It pointed out the influence she had on him. So I went online and grabbed this CD. Laura joined Columbia Records in 1968 and released Eli And The Thirteenth Confession, “the work of an original and brilliant young talent,” (as Jon Landau wrote in Rolling Stone).

Laura Nyro

I bought this on iTunes and it is brilliant! All of her work is available to buy, including “Mother’s Spiritual”, produced by Todd!

Laura-Nyro-Mother's-Spiritual

“Runt” And The Laura Nyro Tribute!

For fans of Todd, it’s time to put on his classic debut album – which includes a song for Laura!

Runt

At the end of Todd’s debut solo album, there is a medley: the first song (Baby Let’s Swing) was written for Laura Nyro, who was a big influence on Todd’s work after Nazz. The full version of this song is available on the “Runt” CD.

“Baby Let’s Swing/The Last Thing You Said/Don’t Tie My Hands” from “Runt”:

ToddRundgren

Beautiful! As I said, Todd was heavily influenced by Nyro’s songwriting style, something he has spoken about extensively. Ultimately, Todd produced Nyro’s 1984 album “Mother’s Spiritual”, but how that came to be is fascinating!

Laura-Nyro-Mother's-Spiritual

Here’s a great clip on youtube that I found, with Todd reflecting on hearing “Eli And The Thirteenth Confession” for the first time – and how he ended up producing her album:

Laura Nyro greatest hits

You can hear a lot of Nyro’s influence in Todd’s work – not only the early songs, but even later work as well. One of the things I love about Todd’s musical history is how wide-ranging his music is, and how many other artists he has worked with and supported…

Here is an article he recently wrote about the influence Luara had on him…

https://johnrieber.com/2017/03/08/laura-nyros-eli-and-the-thirteenth-confession-todd-rundgrens-love-letter-to-lauras-masterpiece/

I love that he speaks so articulately about her inspiration to his music…

Todd Rundgren's best songs

I hope this post has made you all eager to hear more from Laura Nyro.

“Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro” is a thirty-year retrospective collection now available, and it comes full circle with a gift – the previously unreleased “live” version of “Save The Country,” recorded on Christmas Eve 1993, at The Bottom Line Club in New York with her newest harmony group.

Laura+Nyro+laura+with+brolly

As the liner notes point out, the harmonies sing in counter-point:

“In my mind I can’t study war…/In my mind I can’t study war…/There’ll be trains of blossoms../Trains of blossoms…/There’ll be trains of music…/There’ll be music.”

Here is Laura Nyro’s official website:

http://www.lauranyro.com/

I have enjoyed posting many stories about Laura’s music, and I found this great anecdote about the Singer:

clive davis memoir

Music Mogul Clive Davis wrote about Nyro’s legendary “in the dark” audition for him…you can read that story here:


https://johnrieber.com/2014/06/03/laura-nyros-legendary-audition-for-music-mogul-clive-davis-janis-joplins-jealousy/

Another fascinating story involving Nyro involves one of the greatest music festivals of all time:

monterey_pop blu-ray

Laura performed at the Monterey Pop music festival – and a newly remastered version of the documentary about that event talks about Nyro’s performance…read it here:

https://johnrieber.com/2014/04/15/laura-nyros-brilliant-monterey-pop-performance-and-legendary-musical-myth/

Check out more about this amazingly talented Artist, and leave me a comment to let me know what you think! Thanks!

laura_nyro



Categories: 70's Music, Art, Awards, Books / Media, Classic Rock, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Memoirs, Music, Obscure Music, Talent/Celebrities, Todd Rundgren

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34 replies

  1. Great coverage of one of my all time favorite artists.

  2. I remember her music, I can still hear her voice, her sound was part of the rhythm on the radio air waves of the late sixties early seventies, Stoned Soul Picnic….

    They’ll be lots of time and wine
    Red yellow honey
    Sassafras and moonshine
    Red yellow honey
    Sassafras and moonshine…..thanks for a great article about her and the Todd Rudgren (sp) link
    Stoned Soul
    Stoned Soul

  3. Outstanding historical overview, and your links are amazing. Thank you. What fun!

  4. I got Eli & the Thirteenth Confession in 1970, when I was a freshman in high school. A very different kind of girl introduced me to Laura and for that, I’ll never stop being in her debt!

  5. I don’t believe Todd produced the Mother’s Spirtual album but rather a couple of songs which he also played keyboards on. Her recording style was much to laborious for the well-known fastest in the studio guy that he is. What surprises me is that I’ve never heard Todd cover a Laura tune and (re)Productions would have been the perfect opportunity to do so.

  6. She is the Quintessential Musical Female Artist of 20th Century!

  7. Have all her vinyl….listen to her most days…A musical genius,gone too soon…Has a very loyal following online…

  8. Love this John, thanks so much!
    As a matter of fact, I would play Laura’s album, “Stone Soul Picnic”
    Over and over all through seventh and eighth grade non-stop, have loved her ever since. I think I still have the album! I think she is nothing short of amazing. I learned of her connection with Todd years later and it all made sense.
    Thanks again John!

    • It is interesting to listen to Fifth Dimension, Blood Sweat & Tears, Three Dog Night and Barbra Streisand singing her songs – they are more mainstream and polished, and I like Laura’s versions better…

  9. Great page, Great memories – Laura at the Fillmore 🙂 what a gift to music!

  10. Thanks for this well done page.
    It took me back to my 20’s when there was just such
    good music and fun.
    Georgiana Kennedy
    Philadelphia

Trackbacks

  1. My Homepage
  2. Laura Nyro’s Brilliant “Monterey Pop” Performance And Legendary Musical Myth! « johnrieber
  3. Hall & Oates! Meatloaf! Funk! Todd Rundgren’s Top 5 Producing Efforts! « johnrieber
  4. Laura Nyro’s Legendary Audition For Music Mogul Clive Davis! Janis Joplin’s Jealousy! « johnrieber
  5. A Myth Shattered! Laura Nyro’s Legendary Monterey Pop Performance! « Music Platter
  6. Re-Imagining Laura Nyro! A Brilliant “Map To The Treasure”! Laura Nyro’s Beautiful Tribute! | johnrieber
  7. Laura Nyro’s Legendary “In The Dark” Audition! “Blackout Wedding Bell Blues”! | Music Platter
  8. Laura Nyro Re-Imagined! Billy Childs’ Brilliant “Map To The Treasure!” | Music Platter
  9. Todd Rundgren LIVE At The BBC! Utopia’s Pyramid Climb! A Decade Of Brilliant Music! | johnrieber
  10. Todd Rundgren Live At The BBC! New Remastered Todd / Utopia Box Set Rocks! | Music Platter
  11. Todd Rundgren’s MOJO! Todd’s “Genius” Influence! New “Runddens” Music! Todd Video Interview! | johnrieber
  12. Laura Nyro’s Smash Hits – For Barbra Streisand! Three Dog Night! Fifth Dimension! – johnrieber
  13. Laura Nyro’s “Eli And The Thirteenth Confession!” Todd Rundgren’s Love Letter To Laura’s Masterpiece! – johnrieber
  14. The “Uncut” Monterey Pop! Laura Nyro’s Complete Performance On The Way! Criterion’s Amazing New Blu-Ray Has Uncut Hendrix! The Who Too! – johnrieber
  15. Music From The “A-List”! A New Ongoing Celebration Of Music – One Letter At A Time! – johnrieber

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