A few years ago, I was introduced to a woman named Laura Nyro. If you are over the age of 40, you know her too. She wrote incredible songs - songs you know well. You just don't know she wrote them.
My husband told me about her and I was more than surprised that I had never heard of her before. I feel stupid that I didn't know about her earlier because she's written part of the 'song track of my life', as it were.
She was born in 1947 and was still a teenager when she sold her first song to Peter, Paul and Mary in 1966 - And When I Die. It was later recorded by Blood Sweat and Tears and became a huge hit. David Geffen was her fist manager. Just to name a few of her most familiar songs, The Fifth Dimension recorded Wedding Bell Blues, Three Dog Night sang Eli's Coming and Barbara Striesand recorded Stoney End. She was a successful recording artist on her own, but I am not alone when I best remember her words through other musicians.
I won't go into her who biography - you can look that up on line as well as I can. She was married for a time and even had a very brief relationship with Jackson Browne, but eventually lived the rest of her life with Maria Desiderio. I think a lot of the pain and strife in her songs matched the struggle it took to get to that partnership. Laura died at the age of 49 of ovarian cancer - the same disease that took her mother, at exactly same age.
And this year, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I don't know why, but she is a particularly tragic figure for me. There are plenty of musicians who could be described as "tragic", but for whatever reason, her story really gets to me. Maybe because there is such strife in all of her songs. Maybe because she died so young. The words of her songs are so deep and full of emotion - even though they might be set to upbeat music. Just listen to the words of Stoney End, and I challenge you NOT to feel something for the woman who wrote it, despite it's upbeat tempo.
I'm so glad she's considered one of music's best and is finally in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She deserves it.