22 December 2006

Laura Nyro

At this time of year, I always find myself listening to Laura Nyro.

Whenever I play her albums- in particular, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession- I’m struck dumb by what she produced early in her short life. Back in the 60s, it wasn’t commonplace for a 21 year old female singer-songwriter to write lyrics offering a ‘super ride inside my love thing’ declaring to her lover ‘you may leave the fair, but you’ll be back I swear’, never mind the not-so-subtle sexual innuendo of Eli’s Comin

How ahead of her time she was, exploring sexuality in her work but not in order to sell it, not as a means to an end or even as an end in itself: there were more important things for Laura Nyro to embrace and then sing about… lust was but one of her many life's passions and pleasures. She sang about love, loneliness, discrimination, the environment, exploitation, even her dog…

Compared with her achy gravely voice, contemporary female performers like Christine Aguillera (fancy getting Dirrrrty anyone? just one look and you’re thinking “yeah, right… what was it that you gave Eminem, gonorrrrrhoea?”) or Madonna (for that materialistic girl, the thought of sweaty hands handing over a fortune to see her is more erotic-a than hands all over her body) offer nothing more than cheap sexualised tat.

When you hear Laura Nyro sing, you know that a heterosexual male would crawl naked on broken glass to find himself in bed with this woman. Give me her racy sexually-charged lyrics and brilliantly complex arrangements any day.

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