It’s Been A Long Time Coming, I mean Love.
The audience in the background is a thrill!
Laura chose “American Dove” to open the program before 2,500 avid fans. “American Dove” and the closing song. “Mother Earth” were original works. Both were introduced at this live concert at the Fillmore East on May 30, 1971.
“American Dove” fulfilled the elusive quest for love that she had longed for, years earlier, in “Wedding Bell Blues.” When I first listened to the CD, I was deeply moved hearing her sing “it’s been a long time comin’ I mean love.” “American Dove” was a love song 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.” They were married in October of that year.
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 gender-shifting version of “Spanish Harlem.” She and Aretha Franklin in 1971, recorded their own personalized covers. (both links below) In this version, Laura 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”) 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 noteworthy that in her second refrain, she substituted “rare rose up” for “red rose up.”
A beautiful and thoughtful rendition of “I Am The Blues” (first released at this concert, see below & this version is only available on the CD).
It was followed by “Walk On By” which too soon transposed into “Dancing In The Street.” Next is “Emmie” her standard. Listen carefully and you will hear her voice crack with emotion. (see link below) Virtually, sub rosa in 1968, “Emmie” was Pop’s first lesbian love song. Even in 1971, it was a love song to a woman, extolling a “love that dare not speak its name.”
In “Map to the Treasure,” the opening two refrains (0:20 – 1:56) and the coda refrain (6:27 – 7:58) are an example of the finest blues music ever composed. (link below) Laura’s live version is on par with studio album recording in Christmas and the Beads of Sweat (CATBOS). How Laura could build to and climax a crescendo! (2:34 – 4:00) Available on CATBOS is Laura’s incorporation of Alice Coltrane’s harp punctuating the changes and transitions.
Supporting the premise that this concert was dedicated to her fiancé are her 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 “I like her song.” The original version of “Timer” was released on March 3, 1968 on Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. “Timer” is 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. (see link below)
By the concert close the audience was “over the top” avidly enraptured. She had to depart from the performance to remonstrate with them.
At the concert close, Laura reprised the love that she was feeling that night for her fiancé. In the other original song that she premiered “Mother Earth,” appearing almost as a non sequitur, she sang “I love him body and soul.”
“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 one of her best live concerts. It is a tour de force of voice and piano. The audience’s avid support throughout is an irresistible treat.
Less than two months after the debut of “American Dove” in July of 1971, Laura records her Sapphic reverie, “Désiree.” (link below)
Her singing with such an intensity of passion to both a man and a woman is a testament to her bisexuality.
Laura superbly balanced her standards, fan favorites, covers & medleys, while bookending the program with her two original pieces. My only reservation, the concert was too short. I echo the sentiment of the fan who shouted “sing everything.” This CD is a must have.
http://www.myspace.com/lauranyro/music/albums/spread-your-wings-and-fly-live-at-the-fillmore-east-may-30-1971-8106532 – Laura Nyro – Spanish Harlem
Spanish http://www.tu.tv/videos/aretha-franklin-spanish-harlem -Aretha Franklin – Spanish Harlem
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOzaUEyWZuA – Map to the Treasure – CATBOS version