Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Song of the (Election) Day: 'Save the Country' by Laura Nyro

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 4:00 PM

We are going to break the rules here today. Why? ’Cause it is somewhere between or beneath the 2016 election (the Presidential one), the classy one, where all the dirty tricks are pulled out for our displeasure and this year it would seem the usual suspects are popping out of voting booths everywhere. The FBI is a given but, man, Boris and his aging KGB clique may get their chance to shine. Not like afro-sheen but Charlie Sheen (living in Barrio Libre) rumor has it.

Stay with me, whatever nasty tricks have happened yet, we the people are at work, or at the park jogging the twins, or drunk, or flying a sign with some poly sci third-grade scrawling whose spelling alone probably brings this messy cat in 60 bucks before noon.

Now I introduce not one cabinet not even a flying cabinet to this World 's Fair 2016. It's held in Houston I hear at Six Flags Over Texas. Texas is a foreign country metaphysically speaking and I ain't got the strength to say no. Good riddance to the Texans.

Laura Nyro, bless her heart, was a young Jewish songwriter from the Bronx. She was one-half Brill Building, one fourth grand piano, and colored fingernails, Gypsy Rosalie, and one-hundred percent original American songstress who sold her first hit at 16 or 17 (her age depends on who you ask). The song was “And When I Die,” not “Pass the Dutchie,” or anything in the Jonas Brothers catalogue. She was the real deal. They (the record industry) came to her. Men who loved and understood her, like Clive Davis and David Geffen, got their hearts broken in two by Ms. Nyro ... 

I woke up and put on an old interview I have with Nyro and it's is full of mystic shit, jokes about Jersey, and her words can only be her own, she was one a kind.

Todd Rundgren, legend has it, saw Nyro in the now-iconic Monterrey Pop Festival (Todd sang  “Laura I saw you open in L.A."), where The Who did their mod thing before most people knew what hit them. Janis Joplin forever immortalized, and Jimi now back from Britain, played a splintering set then put his electric guitar to flame. Otis Redding gave the white kids a kick in the ass from the Southern chitlin’ circuit and sped up every song, and Laura Nyro was booed off the stage. Well I for one don’t believe it because I’ve heard her live and she was not a Greek Goddess, but her voice and the way she exchanged energy with the audience was pure grace.

She basically retired after her ’71 Gonna Take A Miracle album, with Labelle backing her up on the best roster of R&B/soul covers that Gamble and Huff could produce, and disappeared for a while. She returned to make a cluster of albums including her lullaby to her own baby, Mother's Spiritual, which was co-produced by the wiz-kid Rundgren who had remade The Tubes, Grand Funk Railroad, The New York Dolls, Jesse Winchester ... anyhow, it was a nice record.

However, there are five Nyro records at least that are must-haves, and my personal favorite still is her third, 1969’s New York Tendaberry. And the song that is most representative of our election is "Save the Country." The 5th Dimension covered the song, and others too, all giving it their own time and tempo. It’s an Alice Cooper fave; he once said it was a sort of vague template for his “Elected” off Billion Dollar Babies.

But Nyro’s original stuns the listener with melody, piano and insight that is fresh right now, right this very moment Mister or Misses President. "Come on people/Come on children/Come on down to the glory river/Gonna wash you up/Gonna wash you down/Gonna lay that Devil down … “In my mind I can't study war no more/Save the children/Save the country now …”

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