You gotta love the audience in the background. American Dove, an original work, was first introduced at Laura’s live concert at the Fillmore East on May 30, 1971. She chose American Dove to open the program before a capacity house of over 2,500. You can feel the emotion in each of her four refrains of “it’s been a long time comin’ I mean love.”
This love song was to honor her fiancé, a decorated Vietnam War Veteran, e.g. “But Johnny he come home from war…Tell them the young lord’s come to bring liberty to everyone.” Underscoring the depth of her limerence was the follow-up medley of “Ain’t nothing like the real thing/You make me feel like a natural woman.” Laura closed the opening set with her genderized/reinvented version of “Spanish Harlem.” She gender shifts twice “I’m goin to pick that rose and watch him as he grows in my garden.” (originally, “watch her as she grows”) Then Laura added an original gender reference, i.e. “With eyes as black as coal he looks down in my soul.” (originally, “with eyes as black as coal that look down in my soul”) It is note worthy that in her second refrain, she substituted “rare rose up” for “red rose up.”
Reprising the love that she was feeling that night are the lyrics in the other original song that she premiered “Mother Earth.” Appearing almost as a non sequitur, she sang “I love him body and soul.”
Supporting the premise that this concert was dedicated to her fiancé are her curious redactions in her treatment of “Timer.” She deleted all reference to “My Lady woke up and she broke down – she got up – she let go.” Laura left out, from the song’s denouement lyric array, the words “I like her song.” The original version of “Timer” was released on March 3, 1968 on ELI AND THE THIRTEENTH CONFESSION. “Timer” was the thirteenth confession of ELI. These redacted lyrics were a reference to Maria Desiderio, the third party so frequently alluded to in the song. Maria was 13 and Laura was 19. “So let the wind blow Timer…I like her song and if the song goes minor I won’t mind.” That lyrical omission would have been consistent with the emotional thrall that she was held in that evening.
American Dove is one of my favorite songs and one of her best live performances of a song.
The 2004 CD SPREAD YOUR WINGS AND FLY is very impressive. And the audience’s avid support, throughout the concert, is an irresistible treat.
Truly awesome is the event that occurs less than two months after the debut of American Dove. In July of 1971, Laura records her Sapphic reverie, Désiree. Her personal attribution of the song was inspired by her then “flame” and eventual life partner, Maria Desiderio. Maria was 17 and Laura was 23. (song #3 the g2g love song list)
Her singing with such an intensity of passion to both a man and a woman, in less than 60 days, attests to her bisexuality.