LAURA NYRO SINGS “POVERTY TRAIN” LIVE

By Debora Donato

The video was recorded at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Laura Nyro’s idiosyncratic performance baffled the crowd. It was the dawn of Acid Rock/Psychedelic Music. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, and the Who all came away from the festival as huge successes.

Looking more like a lounge singer than a hippy, Laura Nyro appeared to have come from a different era. Her combination of blues, jazz, gospel, and folk was not a crowd pleaser at the Festival. That said, it is amazing that the power of this performance was not recognized and appreciated. A lot of what happens in life depends on timing.

Luckily, David Geffen — a music agent at the time/and ex collaborator/husband of Carol King. — caught her set and was so impressed he quit his job to become her manager. He landed Nyro a contract with Columbia, and in 1968 she released the extraordinary album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession.

Laura Nyro was a brilliant and innovative composer, who wrote complex and nuanced music. Her records are intricate, haunting works which highlight her powerful vocal phrasing, and evocative lyrics. Many of her songs had greater commercial success in the hands of other performers. A few examples are: the Fifth Dimension scored with “Wedding Bell Blues” and “Blowin’ Away,” Barbra Streisand covered “Stoney End,” and Blood, Sweat & Tears tackled “And When I Die.”

At the age of 24, Nyro announced her first retirement and severed her connections with the music industry. This was the first of several self-imposed hiatuses she took from her musical career. Sadly, she died of ovarian cancer in 1997. She was a breath of fresh air in the notoriously formulaic music industry.

In this video, Elvis Costello and Elton John talk about the impact Nyro’s music has had on other musicians and how far ahead of her time she was.

Discography

Studio

Live

Compilation

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4 Comments

Filed under Barbra Streisand, Blues, Carole King, Jazz, Laura Nyro, Paul & Mary, Peter, Rock and Roll, The 5th Dimension, Three Dog Night, Uncategorized

4 responses to “LAURA NYRO SINGS “POVERTY TRAIN” LIVE

  1. I always thought she looked like you- we shouldda been there, where were we ? xxoomm

  2. Barbara

    Way cool trip down history lane! .

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