When the Rock Hall opened its exhibit Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power ‘ on May 12, 2011, I was a strident critic. With the 2012 Induction of Laura Nyro that changed. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame proved, It Gets Better. Laura Nyro joined other LGBT Inductees, viz. David Bowie, Dusty Springfield, Elton John, Freddie Mercury of Queen, Little Richard, and Michael Stipe of R.E.M. “Ma Rainey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an Early Influence in 1990.” Bessie Smith was also inducted as an Early Influence.
Laura could do “Cock n Roll” with the best of them, e.g. “And When I Die” (Blood Sweat & Tears) and “Eli’s Coming” (Three Dog Night).
Nyro lived a “woman identified, goddess driven existence.” She was “pathologically private” about her bisexuality. Nevertheless, she embraced the “radical, feminist, lesbian subculture.”
The Rock Hall’s choice of Laura Nyro, as a 2012 Inductee, opened her closet door. The Hall spotlighted a woman, a part of whose music and lyrics were an open expression of same-sex attraction, seldom heard in popular song. In Eli’s “Timer” ’68, she sang “So let the wind blow Timer – let the wind blow Timer/ I like her song and if the song goes minor, I won’t mind.” Also in Eli is “Emmie” “Pop’s first lesbian love song.” In 1971, Laura’s personal attribution of Désiree was one of the most undisguised Sapphic paean’s, ever recorded.
In the same album Gonna Take a Miracle, Nyro sang the “Wind” sans Labelle. Laura passionately covered, to her male beloved, a post-coital reverie, e.g. ” And I long for my love deep within…as he lay warm and tender in my arms.
Two examples of Laura’s “stunningly bold descriptions” of sexual intimacy appear in ELI . In the “Confession” to her ex, a male lover, she sang “love my lovething – super ride inside my lovething.” To her female lover, she sang “oo, who stole Mama’s heart and cuddled in her garden? Darlin’ Emmie, la la la, oo la la la, oo la la la, oo la la la.”
I’m reminded of the adage re: Ginger Rodgers & Fred Astaire, Laura was at least as good, but bisexual and wearing high heels.