Laura Nyro Maggie Paley - Essay

Maggie Paley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

What makes [Laura Nyro] special is her music—songs that blend gospel, rock 'n' roll, jazz and blues (people also hear in them classical influences, from Schumann to Stravinsky); lyrics that are knowing, evocative, elusive, personal; and a voice full of soul and nuance….

Everyone in the business knows about Miss Nyro,… who right now is probably the most successful pop composer around. It started about a year and a half ago, with Stoned Soul Picnic and Sweet Blindness, both big hits for the Fifth Dimension…. There are more on the way up—Blowin' Away, Lu, Save the Country, Time and Love—since it seems like the easiest way for other performers to have hits is to record her songs. Most of the Laura Nyro songs they do have a goodtime, gospel, rhythm-and-blues feeling to them, though the chord changes and the words are decidedly untraditional. "Come on baby do a slow float / you're a good-lookin riverboat / and ain't that sweet-eyed blindness good to me," is the refrain of Sweet Blindness, a song about drinking. She has other songs that are musically more complex, more like progressive jazz, with lyrics that speak of pain as well as joy. Almost always the songs are love songs. "I think that the important things in life are love, and respect, and understanding, and trusting," she says. "I have a great feeling for the earth, and for the people of the earth. I'm involved with both, and I can express my feelings for and about humanity through my music." (p. 45)

Maggie Paley, "The Funky Madonna of New York Soul," in Life (Life; © 1970 Time Inc.; all rights reserved), Vol. 68, No. 3, January 30, 1970, pp. 45-7.