- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st St. Martin's Griffin Ed edition (14 May 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312303181
- ISBN-13: 978-0312303181
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 369,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro Paperback – 14 May 2003
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It was always my road to have high drama onstage-Laura Nyro gave me a map. "Rickie Lee Jones" She wrote about the world I lived in but infused it with so much passion that ordinary things-the weather, the river, the streets, the kids-glowed with a spiritual energy. Though we were plain, ordinary, nasty kids, when she sang she made us beautiful. "Suzanne Vega" Laura Nyro you can lump me in with, because Laura exerted an influence on me. I looked to her and took some direction from her. "Joni Mitchell""
About the Author
Michele Kort, Los Angeles-based writer and editor, has been a journalist for over twenty years. Writing for the "Los Angeles Times, Songwriter, Ms., Los Angeles Magazine, L.A. Reader, Redbook, InStyle, The Advocate, "and "L.A. Weekly," she has won numerous awards. She also coauthored the memoir "The End of Innocence" with Chastity Bono.
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Top Customer Reviews
For people like myself who have been listening to Laura Nyro's music for around 30 years it's great to have a detailed biography and complete discography.
This book should help to ensure that Nyro is remembered,as she deserves to be for her wonderful songs and dynamic voice. It's difficult to compare Nyro to anyone, but she may be closest in songwriting skills and vocal and instrumental talent to Joni Mitchell, and there's no higher praise than that.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Michele Kort, in her outstanding biography of Laura, has made me feel like I did get a chance to meet her, afterall. Her writing pulled me in from the first page, and I felt like I was right along side of Laura as I relived her ascendancy to musical greatness. Ms. Kort informs the reader of many interesting facts, such as Ms. Nyro having been named by her musician father after the song from the classic movie, Laura, and that she had lots of training in voice but had fairly limited piano training.
Ms. Kort takes us through all Laura's albums, what was going on in her life when they were being conceived, developed and recorded, who produced and engineered them, who the other musicians and vocalists were, and the various negotiations Laura engaged in with the record companies to get the result she wanted. I found this information of great interest and I would not have minded at all if the book had been another three hundred pages.
Most gratifying was that Michele Kort has written a quite detailed book which gives the reader a very good sense of Laura and some of her idiosyncrasies, but she always treats her with the greatest respect. Over and over, through the many people who knew Laura and are quoted, one realizes that Laura was a genuinely sweet, kind person who was steadfastly more interested in the integrity of her music than any commercial success that others may have urged her toward.
I fully recommend this book to anyone, particularly to those who are Laura Nyro fans. After reading it, I feel even more sad that she passed on so early, but I at least feel like I got to know her a bit. While she never answered my letter those many years ago, I feel like I finally got to meet her and know her, and I'm even more enamored with her than before.
She was the pioneer, a woman whose creative abilities were, in my opinion, up until that time, unsurpassed by anyone, male or female. That's why the book is such a treasure. It unlocks so many of the mysteries that many of us had resigned ourselves to never know. Unlike the other reviewer, I relished the details of the recording sessions and everything else, every other detail about Laura's life, personality, art. At the risk of sounding snobbish, I suppose you have to be the following to truly appreciate what is offered here: 1) an absolute die-hard Laura Nyro follower and fan from the 70s, and 2) probably a songwriter and musician yourself in order to understand what it takes to create the kind of work she created. (I am both).
I suppose to sum it up it just felt really great to finally have the real Laura, unshrouded and revealed to us. The great thing is that--it was refreshing to know that she really was just a regular girl, not someone who particularly wanted or even warranted that dark aura, just someone who had a real life and didn't go for the showbiz thing very much. And, even better: someone very wonderful in her personal life as far as her generosity and kindness--and full of laughter, humor, delight, and loving friendships. I took away the details of a woman who had an unparalleled musical gift, many friends, a happy relationship, loved her child, and had a generally beautiful life. After all these years, and with her death, it is nice to know that she could have just been one of us. I guess you might say this book gave me some "closure". And, I felt happier as a result of reading AND re-reading it, for its endearing, real-life stories about this lovely human being.
Michele Kort's book is excellent because it is well researched, thorough, and brimming with information. It's weakness is that it does not read like a nice little story; so we have to work a bit to move through it. But the trip is worth the effort. As ardent of a fan as I have been, for some reason I was unaware of the Japanese release of "Season of Lights." To hear that Santana-like jam her band breaks into on "Timer" was worth the price of both "Soul Picnic," the book, & the Japanese CD!
One of the comments I most appreciated in the book came near the end, and is so true. Richard Herrington of the Washington Post says, "Lots of people were later compared to Laura Nyro. Nyro herself was never compared to anyone." Nyro's music was the benchmark of artistry, integrity, passion and wit. This book succeeds in bringing that struggle to attention. For whatever other shortcomings the book may have, for that I am grateful.