Désiree by Laura Nyro – a Sapphic Reverie of Maria Desiderio

Désiree released November 17, 1971 on Gonna Take a Miracle. – vj megasoreassrawr


The Charts’ two versions were Deserie ’57/Desiree ’67;  Laura spelled her personal attribution Désiree ’71. The Charts pronounced their beloved’s name Dez-a-ree (like key); Laura pronounced her soulmate’s name Dez-a-ray (like gay). In their versions the Charts sang Deserie (3) times and Desiree (6) times in 3 minutes; Laura sang Désiree 14 times in 2 minutes! Gonna Take a Miracle (GTAM) was to be an album of teenage heartthrob songs. Most of the tracks were bare covers save for Wind & Spanish Harlem’s gender shifts and Désiree/desire, a perfect song, on the down low, to her flame, Maria Desiderio/desire.  CBS issued only one 45 rpm from the album. The eponymous   song GTAM was side A and on  side B was  Désiree. The  CBS archives described both songs as “lesser known covers.”  Laura stripped Désiree down to voice, piano and vibes. Laura wanted this attribution to be very personal,  therefore Laura is the only voice,  sans Labelle.


RABDRAKE: Dan Nigro, Laura’s cousin wrote, “Desiree could have been dedicated to any number of the enigmatic women in Laura’s life at the time.” It is very reasonable to narrow the field to Maria Desiderio, who was seventeen at the time. After all, Desiree and Desiderio both mean desire! Zoe Nicholson, Michele Kort and Patti Di Lauria agree that Laura considered Maria to be her soul mate. I can’t imagine a more perfect song that Laura could have dedicated, on the down low, to her soul mate, Maria.

Upon your equest, I listened to “Wedding Bell Blues.” Nothing in the song refutes Laura’s bisexuality. It’s not until four years later, in “American Dove” that she sings of  the fulfillment of the love  longed for, in “Wedding Bell Blues.” In “American Dove” an original song honoring her fianće, she refrains, several times, “it’s been a long time comin, I mean love.”  They marry in late  1971.

What is  her live performance of “American Dove” on May 30, 1971, and her recording of  “Désiree” in July 1971, all about? Singing with such a depth of passion toward both a man and a woman in less than 60 days, attests to her bisexuality, and not to her being a lesbian.

Nor is this the first time! On March 3, 1968, Laura released Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. In addition to “Eli’s Comin,” in two other songs, she uses candid sexual imagery to describe her men. “Love my lovething. Super ride inside my lovething” (The Confession) and “I take my coffee in the   mornin’ and all your love, a spoonful or so helps us grow”(December’s Boudoir). Another two songs, to her woman, are just as candidly sexual. “oo…who stole Mama’s heart and cuddled in her garden? darlin Emmie,…la la la, oo la la la…” (Emmie), and “I  keep rememberin Indoors that I use to walk thru…I could walk thru them doors onto a pleasure ground, it was sweet and funny a pleasure ground.” (Timer).


 Ari Fox Lauren, a music theorist, made a study of Laura’s work.  A major premise of her thesis is that Laura was heavily influenced by the music of Tin Pan Alley & the other composers of the American Songbook.

 Cole Porter is a composer of the American Songbook.  On May 7, 1953, Porter opened Can-Can on Broadway. The song “C’est Magnifique” was all the rage. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, et al covered it. Laura’s father played trumpet at the summer resorts of the “Borscht Belt.” She would have been immersed in the song. The lyrics are: “When love comes in and takes you for a spin, oo la la la C’est Magnifique.  When every night your love one holds you tight, oo la la la C’est Magnifique.”  


 As with “C’est Magnifique,” “Emmie” is about love, romance, and sex. However, in 1968, Emmie was “a love that dare not speak its name.” “Emmie’ was Pop’s first lesbian love song,”  A comment posted by Alanna Nash, April 25, 1997, seventeen days after Laura passed away. See LGBT wikia article link Re: “Emmie (Laura Nyro song)”



“So let the wind blow Timer…/ I like her song and if the song goes minor – I won’t mind”


“And if you love me true – I’ll spend my life with you – you and Timer…carved in a heart on a berry tree.” – Laura n’ Maria ‘67


The album Gonna Take a Miracle was released on November 17, 1971. Despite, the fact that the album was to be only covers, wholly unoriginal material, “…Nyro remained fully in charge.” Michele Kort,  Soul Picnic p.133.  It was variously billed as “a reminiscence of teenage heartthrob songs from Laura’s youth.”  The major exception was Laura’s personal attribution of Désiree, along with her genderizing/reinvention of “Spanish Harlem.”

The basis for “Désiree” was The Charts’ versions which were done as the 1957 original “Deserie” and the 1967 nostalgia remake “Desiree.” Deserie/Desiree are classic doo-wop ’57 and” Northern Soul” and both spellings are  pronounced the same. [Dĕz -ä-rē (like key)] Laura was a walking compendium of doo-wop. She would have been aware of both versions, spellings, and pronunciations. Both versions are available on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8L4m3-jbsU– Deserie – hwaj5300

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uSWVKT10cc – Desiree – cc187cc

Laura’s own treatment of the song is earthy & raw, a sultry love ballad. The song is an undisguised statement of love, an open expression of same-sex attraction, a Sapphic Paean.

A curious coincidence is the 1954 movie in which Jean Simmons starred with Marlon Brando entitled Désirée. This popular film was based upon the historical novel by Annemarie Selinko about Désirée Clary, the mistress of Napoleon. Eventually, Clary was crowned Queen Desideria of Sweden. Laura would have been aware of this Hollywood spectacle.

Argue all you want, you can’t get around Désiree. In July 1971, she sang a song that she, uniquely, titled Désiree and pronounced [Dĕz-ä-rā (like ray or gay)]. She adapted her cover from classic doo-wop to a sultry love ballad. Her beloved’s name was  Désiree and Maria’s last name was Desiderio. Both names mean desire. The name transposition was not mere coincidence, but is evidence of a deliberate subterfuge. Laura repeated the name Désiree 14 times in the 1:48 minute/seconds. Her  treatment was a personal attribution. Kort mentions  in  Soul Picnic, that “Désiree” was stripped down to voice, piano  and vibes with “Nyro smoothly harmonizing with herself.” p.133. Laura insured that this song would be just so. It was to mark their June/July rendezvous to celebrate Maria’s 17th birthday of June 10, 1971. In October , 2009, Duglas T Stewart, wrote the liner notes for the 2010 Rev-Ola CD re-release of  Gonna Take a Miracle. He said “Désiree’ was the most obscure song in the set but many see it as the most personal and important track to Laura, as they believe it was intended as an ode to her great love Maria Desderio.”¹

In light of the undisduted fact that Maria was Laura's
soul mate, Laura’s "Désiree" could not be more perfect as
a song written to and/or about a soul mate.
The song opens with a sigh of total surrender to her
belovéd, an ultimate expression of thrall.

Current link to Désiree.

Désiree by Laura Nyro released November 1971. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wad3bcQlAU0

“Laura Nyro performing Desiree, I couldn’t find this on youtube so I just made  it. It is presumed and almost sure that Laura Nyro’s treatment of her song “Desiree” is one of the most undisguised professions of love by a woman singing to another woman ever recorded. I just love Laura Nyro!” vj 3assal

Laura revealed their limerence with the release of Désiree. She recorded, albeit on the down low, their high romance. Is it such a stretch to date the origin of that “flame” back to 1967? After all, Laura marked that 1967 bonding with her songs “Timer” and  “Emmie” and the silhouetted back cover of vinyl Eli and the ThirteenthConfession.


N.B. The image below is available on GOOGLE in all modes.





There is the sentiment expressed by Debra J. Wolstein, on June 4, 2009, on facebook.com, concerning Lauria. “Laura & Maria had to have at least tested the waters in the early 70’s for that song to have manifested in ’71 as such a personal tribute of love and desire.” *

Curiously, no one seems to know exactly when, where or how Laura first met Maria!

Is it so hard to accept that a woman, so passionately loved by so many men and women, would herself have loved, passionately, both men and women?


* http://www.facebook.com/inbox/readmessage.php?t=1121733134580

1. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/album-laura-nyro–labelle-gonna-take-a-miracle-revola-1868268.html