Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, Maria Desiderio

ELI Silhouetted back cover

 http://lgbt.wikia.com/wiki/File:ELI_Silhouetted_back_cover.jpg

     The silhouetted picture on the back cover of the vinyl record album, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession became  Laura Nyro’s memento mori of  her eventual life partner, Maria Desiderio . 

N.B. The above image is also available on GOOGLE .

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     “Timer” is actually Laura Nyro’s thirteenth confession from the album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. It has been alleged that “Timer” is about a cat and/or the passage of time. There is even an erronious  claim that Laura, at her live concert Season of Lights, alluded to “Timer as being about a cat.”  After she performed “The cat-song,”  Laura did say while introducing  the song “When I was a freeport (& you were the main drag)” “here’s a song about another cat.” ¹

     What the lyrics of “Timer” do reveal is Laura musing about love, e.g.  “and now my hand is ready for my heart… Timer knows the lady’s gonna love again – if you don’t love me – The lady rambles never more – if you love me true…And if you love me true, I’ll spend my life with you…”  Supporting the notion about the passage of time is the ascending lyrical array climaxing as shown above. The array covers the beginning of  life “holding to my cradle at the start” and ends “I’ll spend my life.” But even these references, arguably about the passage of time, are wrapped in allusions to love .   (see the youtube links to “Timer” below)   

   Charlie Calello, the arranger & Laura’s co-producer, claimed that every song of ELI “had some underlying meaning about her own life…Eli was one of her boyfriends…” Michele Kort,  Soul Picnic, p. 62. 

    The newspaper ads for the album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession stated  “She doesn’t explain anything – She fills you with experience.” ibid p. 62.

    The  lyrics  of  “The Confession” e.g. “love my lovething, super ride inside my lovething,” were described by Kort as “a postcoital exuberance.” ibid p.61. The lyrics “oo who stole Mama’s heart and cuddled in her garden? darlin Emmie, oo la la la, oo la la la …” were part of “ Emmie,’ Pop’s first lesbian love song.” (Alanna Nash – EW.com April 25, 1997 – Passion Player)  As early as June 1968, Pete Johnson in his review of  “Emmie” in Coast FM & Fine Arts (p.50) commented “There is a momentary shock at hearing a woman romancing another woman.” *

    With the album released on March 3, 1968, it’s easy to see why CBS would have been loathe to “explain anything.”  

      As with “Emmie,” the muse for “Timer” was Maria Desiderio. She was thirteen and Laura was nineteen. “So let the wind blow Timer …I like her song and if the song goes minor – I won’t mind.” Haunting and prescient are the lines “And if you love me true, I’ll spend my life with you, you and Timer.”

      Laura’s songs: “Emmie” ’68, “Timer” ’68, “Désiree,” (“Gonna Take a Miracle” 1971), “Roadnotes” (“Mother’s Spiritual” 1984),  “Walk the Dog & Light the Light” ’93, “Angel in the Dark” and “Sweet Dream Fade” both ’94 (“Angel In The Dark” 2001)  reveal an “on and off” relationship of thirty years, from 1967 to 1997, Laura’s death.

     Laura and Maria shared an undisputed 15 year, eventual, life partnership.  Laura, Maria, and their dog Ember were buried (ashes interred) under the Japanese Maple at their estate in Danbury CT.

      Laura left us her keepsake, of Maria, on the back cover of the vinyl dust jacket of Eli. In March 1968, Columbia released the thirteen-track vinyl record. Creativity wise, her recently negotiated four album contract with CBS gave her carte blanche. It was not an exaggeration that Laura listed herself on Eli’s back cover as “the writer, composer, voices, piano and witness to the confession.” As such, she would have been free of any inhibition in witnessing the confession in a graphic way. On May 22, 2007, Gregor von Kallahann, in his review of Soul Picnic for Amazon.com reported, “Even as a teenager growing up in a small town in Maine, some of my friends said knowingly… that Laura was ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual’ …How else could you explain that back cover on ELI…?” On August 12, 2007, Michele Kort posted a rave comment on the von Kallahann review. ^

      There are the other explanations of the silhouetted picture being a double exposure and/or a three-quarter angle of a young Laura. Brian Van der Horst, in his April 1968 review of Eli in the New York Free Press, Critique – 4, p.8, ingeniously, described it as “representing the parting chrysalis of her old life.” Assuming it true, notwithstanding, the back cover is a memento of her then “flame” and eventual life partner, Maria Desiderio.

    The ditty on the vinyl record, Part 2, 13. The Confession is very likely a deliberate diversion, a subterfuge common to a “flame” (an intimate friendship between an older woman and a younger woman).  But,  reminiscent of the flame, that Laura kept for Maria, is the token of the inside lyric flap. The outer flap, appearing as part of the cover, contains the title in script viz “Laura Nyro   Eli and the Thirteenth Confession.” Just below that is the printed menu of the thirteen songs and a last line “Lyrics Within.” As you open the flap, revealed  on the other side, are the lyrics of “Eli’s Comin'” & “Timer,” hence, Eli and the Thirteenth confession (Timer). 

       Argue all you want, you can’t get around “Désiree.”  In 1971, she records  “Désiree,” a song that can only be described as a Sapphic reverie. Laura, uniquely, titles her cover “Désiree.”   She refrains her beloved’s name 14 times in 1:48 min/sec. More than a remarkable coincidence are the facts that “Désiree” means desire and  Maria’s last name, Desiderio, also means desire. Laura’s treatment of  this ditty was her personal attribution. Kort mentions in Soul Picnic, that  “Désiree” was stripped down to voice, piano, and vibes with “Nyro smoothly harmonizing with herself.” ibid p.133. Laura insured that this song would be just so.#

      The past analysis of the song “Timer” has dwelled on cats and time. No one tackled the climactic lyrics, i.e. “And if you love me true, I’ll spend my life with you, you and Timer.” These lyrics are an obvious and ultimate expression of love! Who might “you” be, if not Maria? It is a remarkable coincidence that Maria Desiderio was the you that Laura did eventually spend her life with. As remarkable as the coincidence that the beloved’s name in the song “Désiree”and Maria’s last name Desiderio both meant desire.

     Supporting the notion that “Timer” was a love song to a woman is the redacted version of “Timer” from Laura’s live concert on May 30, 1971. This concert occurred while she was deep in love’s thrall  with her fiancé,  her future husband, a Vietnam War Veteran.  (see link  for the redacted “Timer” at  “Spread Your Wings and Fly)

https://rabdrake.wordpress.com/category/spread-your-wings-and-fly-laura-nyro/

    If Maria was the inspiration for “Désiree,” is it such a stretch to trace the origin of the flame back to 1967, especially, as Laura marked the event with “Timer” & “Emmie” and the Back Cover of Eli?

Listen to the song, then tell me I am wrong!  (Désiree  #3. on the g2g love song list)#

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¹  http://music.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=music.artistalbums&artistid=1951040&albumid=13742640  

The actual quote “Here’s a song about another cat” appears on side two of the vinyl album of the live concert, Season of  Lights. It is found  between tracks 2 & 3, i.e.  “The Cat-Song” & “Freeport,”  and  is heard between  2 & 3, without  interruption & respectively.  

# 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

 http://music.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=music.artistalbums&artistid=1951040&albumid=8098867

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 “Timer.”

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cX7ahizSh8 -Kurt11110

P.S. don’t let Kurt11110 seduce you with his cats. lol

 Emmie, Pop’s first lesbian love song.  

*  http://lgbt.wikia.com/wiki/Emmie_%28Laura_Nyro_song%29

Youtube link to “Emmie”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db2wUdsuLQM&feature=related

^ Amazon Review of Soul Picnic & Comments 

  http://www.amazon.com/review/R287457JTV66ZB/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0312303181&nodeID=#wasThisHelpful

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Did not know about Timer

Please, click for an expanded view & comments

     Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, released March 3, 1968, is an example of the superb talent Laura Nyro possessed for blending Tin Pan Alley and the Brill Building. Musically, the influence of Tin Pan Alley is manifest in “Timer.” The song opens with a cakewalk, i.e. a march cadence which gives way to a strut. The cakewalk is again refrained in the closing.  In the late 19th century, the cakewalk became a fad and marked the onset of Tin Pan Alley (circa 1880’s to 1930’s &/0r 1950’s.

Laura listed herself on the vinyl back cover of Eli as the “writer, composer, voices, piano and witness to the confession.”

It is widely accepted that her earthy musical style and candid sexual imagery are about her men, i.e. “Eli’s Comin,” “December’s Boudoir,” and “The Confession,” e.g. “love my lovething – super ride inside my lovething.”
“Emmie” was “pop’s first lesbian love song.”¹ Laura sang of her beloved in a frank and exalted style, e.g.  “you ornament the earth for me,” “the natural snow,” “the unstudied sea,” “you’re a cameo.”  Laura was a weaver of song, and Laura’s beloved “ you were born a weaver’s lover. Born for the loom‘s desire.” (Laura’s piano)

The inspiration for “Emmie” was Maria Desiderio, aged 13. While respecting by her discretion, Maria’s tender age, Laura could not resist her own love’s vanity. Laura sang in her flame to Maria, “oo who stole Mama’s heart and cuddled in her garden? darling Emmie, oo la la la, oo la la la…” For the past two years, I have interviewed scores of gay, bi, and straight women about the import of these lyrics. Every woman has considered “cuddling  in a woman’s garden” to be a description of an  intimate embrace of the female genitalia.

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Laura was  widely reported to have said at concerts that the song “Timer” was about a cat. This was incorrect. The vinyl recording of the live concert  of Seasons of Lights makes it clear that the comment  “here’s a song about another cat” was in reference to “When I was a freeport (& you were the main drag)” and not about “Timer.”#

The opening musical phrasing of “Timer” conjures a pace and the lyrics evoke the imagery of a dog walk. The song is her musings about love, e.g. “and now my hand is ready for my heart.”
But, who was “My lady woke up – and she broke down – she got up – she let go…”?
Who was the muse for “I like her song and if the song goes minor – I won’t mind”?
Who is being put on notice in “And Timer knows the lady’s gonna love again – If you don’t love me – The lady rambles – never more – if you love me true – And if you love me true – I’ll spend my life with you – you and Timer”?

It was also reported that “Timer” was about the passage of time. But lyrically, the song was mostly Laura’s feelings about love and not the passage of time, e.g. “But now my hand is open and now my hand is ready for my heart.”  The song repeatedly identified or was spoken to a lover.

By juxtaposing the lines “My lady woke up – and she broke down – she got up – she let go”  with the lyrics “Baby I’m not trying to talk you down,” is there  the suggestion of a lovers’ falling out? And is the lyrical ultimatum “the lady rambles never more– if you love me true,” an allusion to the reason for the tiff?

“So…let the wind blow Timer / I like her song – and if the song goes minor – I won’t mind.” Is the repeated use of the idiom “let the wind blow” for emphasis and to suggest a willingness to brave what may be  adverse consequences? Is the use of the phrase “…if the song goes minor”  to suggest the possibility of a lost or unrequited love?  Is it also, a subterfuge common to a flame, i.e. a  cryptic reference to  Maria’s age?

Are the lyrics “but I could walk thru them doors onto a pleasure ground. It was sweet and funny a pleasure ground” the same as cuddling in Mama’s garden?

Any doubt as to the lover being a woman was dispelled by Laura’s redacted version of “Timer” performed on May 30, 1971, in live concert at the Fillmore East. It becomes apparent when viewed in the context of the song “American Dove” which was Laura’s love song to her fiancé, a decorated Vietnam War veteran. Both songs were released on the 2004 CD Spread Your Wings And Fly

Maria was also the inspiration for “Désiree” on the album Gonna take a miracle? ³^

The young woman silhouetted with Laura on the back cover of the vinyl album jacket of Eli and the Thirteenth Confession became Laura’s memento  mori to her then flame and eventual life partner, Maria Desiderio.

The picture is worth 1,000 confessions and renderings of the image are an easy find on-line.*

http://lgbt.wikia.com/wiki/Image:ELI_Silhouetted_back_cover.jpg

 
The songs of ELI are a treat, a treasure trove of her musical precocity and lyrical poetry. Even though the silhouetted picture is not on the back of the CD, the re-mastered songs beat the dust off the vinyl.  (The back cover is shown inside the jewel box behind the  CD disc)

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http://www.myspace.com/lauranyro/music/albums/season-of-lights-laura-nyro-in-concert-with-bonus-tracks-13742640

¹  http://lgbt.wikia.com/wiki/Emmie_%28Laura_Nyro_song%29

   ²  https://rabdrake.wordpress.com/category/its-been-a-long-time-coming/

³  https://rabdrake.wordpress.com/category/desiree-sapphic-reverie-to-maria-desiderio/

^ Links below to “Désiree”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wad3bcQlAU0

http://music.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=music.artistalbums&artistid=1951040&albumid=8098867

   * N.B.  be sure to avoid the strict search mode on Google. 

 

    

Maria Desiderio – Part of the Lesbian Tide – Out and Proud in 1978

  1. Maria & Zoe Surprised in Love

When, Where and How did Laura Nyro first meet her eventual life partner, Maria Desiderio?

The purpose of this talk page is to stimulate a discussion that might lead to ascertaining when, where, and how these two women first met.

CURRENT UPDATE May 2011.

I believe the evidence, here to date, warrants the following  assumptions.  Laura and Maria met for the first time when Maria, a self-described native of Brooklyn, was 12/13 years old,  taking keyboard lessons from Alice Coltrane. Laura was smitten. “So let the wind blow, Timer …I like her song.” Their “flame” relationship was eventually revealed. “Emmie your mama’s been a callin’ you.” As a consequence of Maria’s tender age of 13,  she  was relocated to Torrance, CA, circa late ’67.  In 1970, Maria and Zoe first meet at Bishop Montgomery High School.  It is likely that “Lauria” rendezvous at a live concert in June 1971, possibly to celebrate Maria’s 17th birthday. Instead of  “cuddling in Mama’s garden,” they do the “wild thing.”  Laura in her personal attribution of “Dèsiree” boasts the occasion and on “the down low” declares Maria Desiderio to be her soul mate. In 1976, Maria and Zoe become lovers and live together as life partners, even exchanging rings. In mid 1978, at the Roxy Theatre, on a fan line with Zoe,  “Lauria” again see each other. Laura is very pregnant. That was all that was needed to rekindle the “flame.”  They begin a correspondence.  Alice was the likely go-between. From 1980 to Labor Day Weekend 1982, “Lauria” were having an affair which Zoe unmasked. Immediately, Maria goes East to live with Laura. It can be fairly stated that Maria Desiderio was Laura Nyro’s soul mate. Maria Desiderio’s passion was painting and her obsession was Laura Nyro. The rest is Herstory.

In 2002, Michele Kort authored the biography of Laura Nyro, Soul Picnic. Kort quotes Wendy Werris’ claims that in the early 1980’s, Zoe Ananda, Maria’s former life partner, told Werris “Oh, Maria moved to Connecticut to live with Laura Nyro.” ibid p. 196.

But this fails to answer the questions of when, where and how the initial meeting occurred. In fact, Kort answers the how question this way. “None of Nyro’s close friends are certain how she met Maria Antonia Desiderio.” ibid p. 196. In her second footnote to page 196. Kort wrote “how she met Maria: I couldn’t confirm the story that they may have met through musician Alice Coltrane, from whom Desiderio supposedly took keyboard lessons.” ibid p. 305. (see also comment 10. by DJ M,  infra)

According to Zoe  Ann “Ananda” Nicholson, Maria’s ex, the following is true.  Maria and Zoe first met in 1970. Zoe claimed that even back then, Maria was already obsessed with Laura Nyro. Zoe and Maria became lovers in 1976.  Sometime in 1978, Laura met Zoe and Maria on a fan line at the Roxy in Los Angeles.  Much to Zoe’s astonishment, sometime in 1980, Laura showed up in the “Gypsy with dog and child” at Zoe/Maria’s Magic Speller bookstore.  Zoe threw Maria out on Labor Day Weekend 1982. Around 1986, Zoe, Laura and Maria reformed a deep friendship until Laura’s death.  Zoe is emphatic that all three: Zoe, Laura and Maria were bisexual, but living in and embracing the radical, feminist, lesbian subculture. (see links below &/or)  Zoe insists Laura told her, expressly, that “Walk the Dog and Light the Light” was about Maria. Zoe confirmed that Maria liked older women both Laura and Zoe were six to seven years older than Maria.  Zoe, “Maria was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. And she loved me! Surprised in love.” ¹

A puzzling quote is Michele Kort’s claim “Those who knew Maria Desiderio say that she was even more private than Laura…” ibid p. 217.  This is in contradiction to Maria’s picture published in the Lesbian Tide March/April 1978, Community Focus, p. 27. It shows Maria with her mom, Irene, and Zoe Ananda with her mom. All four women are beaming smiles in what could only be described as a “recruiting poster” for PFLAG.   It has always intrigued me as to what prompted this once “out & proud” lesbian back into the closet? In further contrast is the quote accompanying the picture “…Maria…and Zoe…consider themselves the ‘luckiest lesbians alive’ because they have experienced little discrimination regarding their lifestyle…”

http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/lgbt/images/5/54/Maria_D_Lesbian_Tide-1-.pdf

Surprising is this comment,  by Michelle Kort, discounting “Emmie” as a lesbian love song.  “Emmie” “was a favorite of her mother –  hardly the endorsement one would expect for her daughter’s paean  to her female lover.” ibid , p. 197.  Both Maria’s mom, Irene, and Zoe’s mom were enthusiastic about their daughters’ relationship. They were as “out & proud” as their daughters. They  fully supported the creation of the “Majic Speller,” a lesbian owned/ lesbian friendly bookstore. Laura’s dad said of Maria “She was like another daughter, a lovely woman.” ibid, p. 198. Why wouldn’t Laura’s mom have been proud of her daughter’s creation “Emmie,”  even as a Sapphic paean?

The naysayers can argue all they want, they can’t get around “Désiree.”  Laura’s  July 1971,  recording was her  paean  to Maria, perhaps, to mark Maria’s 17th birthday.  She titled the song in a  unique way, Désiree.  Laura recited her beloved’s name, Désiree, 14 times in 1:48 min/sec. Maria’s last name Desiderio means desire; Désiree means desire.  Kort mentions in Soul Picnic, that Désiree was stripped down to voice, piano, and vibes with “Nyro smoothly harmonizing with herself.” ibid p. 133. Her treatment of this cover was a personal attribution. Laura insured that this song would be  just so. Désiree was her undisguised & open expression of sensual surrender. Laura  is singing of her love reverie for another woman.

On the June 5, 2009, Debra J. Wolstein posted this comment 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…because of the unmistakably erotic/romantic quality of that song (again, I agree that she re-wrote it as a subtle reference to Maria “Desiderio”) and other songs to follow,” ²

Désiree – link below

http://music.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=music.artistalbums&artistid=1951040&albumid=8098867

If Maria is the inspiration for “Désiree,” is it such a stretch to trace the origin of the flame back to 1967? This  is especially true as Laura noted the occasion with her songs “Timer” and “Emmie.” Maria was thirteen; Laura was nineteen. “So let the wind blow Timer…I like her song and if the song goes minor – I won’t mind.” The lyrics “oo who stole Mama’s heart and cuddled in her garden? Darlin’ Emmie, la la la, oo la la la…” are a candid description of female intimacy.

To memorialize: Maria n Laura ’67 “carved in the heart of a berry tree,” Laura left us her keepsake of Maria. It is on the back cover of the vinyl dust jacket of Eli. In March 1968, Columbia released the thirteen-track vinyl record. Creativity wise, her recently negotiated four album contract with CBS gave her carte blanche. It was not an exaggeration that Laura listed herself on Eli’s back cover as “the writer, composer, voices, piano and witness to the confession.” As such, she would have been free of any inhibition in witnessing the confession in a graphic way. On May 22, 2007, Gregor von Kallahann, in his review of ”Soul Picnic” for Amazon.com reported, “Even as a teenager growing up in a small town in Maine, some of my friends said knowingly… that Laura was ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual’ …How else could you explain that back cover on ELI…?” On August 12, 2007, Michele Kort posted a rave comment on the von Kallahann review.

There are the other explanations of the silhouetted picture being a double exposure and/or a three-quarter angle of a young Laura. Brian Van der Horst, in his April 1968 review of Eli in the New York Free Press, Critique – 4, p. 8, ingeniously, described it as “representing the parting chrysalis of her old life.” Assuming it true, notwithstanding, the back cover is a memento of her then “flame” and eventual life partner, Maria Desiderio.
N.B. Even though the back cover is ostensibly benign, nevertheless, Google considered the Laura Nyro popmatters image/rendering to contain “explicit sexual content”?  Google is no longer restricting access to the Laura Nyro popmatters image.

The following link is a copy of the back cover of Eli and the Thirteenth Confession N.B.  The image below is available on GOOGLE in all but the safe mode. .

http://lgbt.wikia.com/wiki/Image:ELI_Silhouetted_back_cover.jpg

 CONCLUSION

I believe the evidence, here to date, warrants the following  assumptions.  Laura and Maria met for the first time when Maria was 12 and taking keyboard from Alice Coltrane. Laura was smitten. Their “flame” was eventually revealed. “Emmie your mama’s been a callin’ you.” Maria was relocated to Torrence, CA, circa late ’67.  “Lauria” rendezvous in June 1971, possibly to celebrate Maria’s 17th birthday. Instead of  “cuddling in Mama’s garden,” they do the “wild thing.”  Laura in, her personal attribution, “Dèsiree” boasts the occasion, while also declaring “on the down low” Maria to be her soul mate.  In mid 1978, at the Roxy Theatre,  they again see each other on a fan line with Zoe. Laura is very pregnant. That was all that was needed to rekindle the “flame.”  They begin a correspondence.  Alice was the likely the go-between. From 1980 to Labor Day Weekend 1982, “Lauria” were having an affair which Zoe unmasked. Maria goes East to live with Laura. The rest is Herstory.

 

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links &/or

Laura living in and embracing the radical, feminist, lesbian subculture.  Thanks denknee

N.B. 0:14 thru 0:20

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNWF2AxThy0

 

“Sappho was a poet, Billie was a real musician, Frida drew the moon.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVtd91jhRcw

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¹ Comment underscoring photograph 1. Zoe & Maria, opposite page 86. The Hungry Heart by Zoe Ann Nicholson.

² http://www.facebook.com/inbox/readmessage.php?t=1121733134580

³ A curious coincidence, with the year of Maria’s birth, is the 1954 movie Désirée which starred Jean Simmons. She played Désirée, the mistress of Napoleon. The movie was based upon the 1951 historical novel by Annemarie Selinko. The book was about Désirée Clary, a mistress of Napoleon, who eventually became Queen Desideria of Sweden. In 1954 et seq., the name Désirée became all the rage.

Désiree by Laura Nyro – a Sapphic Reverie of Maria Desiderio

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

IN A NUTSHELL

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.

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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)”

  http://lgbt.wikia.com/wiki/Emmie_%28Laura_Nyro_song%29

 

“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.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wad3bcQlAU0


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.

 

http://lgbt.wikia.com/wiki/Image:ELI_Silhouetted_back_cover.jpg

 

 

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