Laura Nyro – NET: Critique – January 1, 1969 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Laura Nyro in performance and interview, taken from the NET program Critique and broadcast on January 1, 1969. Born Laura Nigro, (October 18, 1947 – April 8, 1997) she was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist. She achieved critical acclaim with her own recordings, particularly the albums Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968) and New York Tendaberry (1969), and had commercial success with artists such as Barbra Streisand and The 5th Dimension recording her songs. Her style was a hybrid of Brill Building-style New York pop,jazz, rhythm and blues, show tunes, rock, and soul.
Between 1968 and 1970, a number of artists had hits with her songs: The 5th Dimension with “Blowing Away”, “Wedding Bell Blues”, “Stoned Soul Picnic”, “Sweet Blindness”, and “Save the Country”; Blood, Sweat & Tears and Peter, Paul and Mary, with “And When I Die”; Three Dog Night and Maynard Ferguson, with “Eli’s Comin'”; and Barbra Streisand with “Stoney End”, “Time and Love”, and “Hands off the Man (Flim Flam Man)”. Nyro’s best-selling single was her recording of Carole King’s and Gerry Goffin’s “Up on the Roof”.
In 2010, Laura Nyro was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, arguably her greatest professional accolade, in the footsteps of composers like George Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, and Stephen Sondheim.
Afterwards, in 2012, Nyro was also posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
NET, the forerunner of PBS, ran the Critique program for a few years and featured a number of noteworthy musicians during that time, among them The Doors and this episode spotlighting Laura Nyro. Host was John Daly, former news broadcaster and best known for his role as moderator on the CBS program What’s My Line?
Joining Daly are critics Michael Thomas and Patrick O’Connor.
The performances are great – the interview and the critical assessments are cringeworthy. Such was 60s criticism. But it’s interesting to give a listen to, if for nothing else than to hear just how strange it often was and how generally misunderstood Rock Music was by the mainstream at the time.