Soul Serenade

Laura NyroI have written extensively about Laura Nyro for Popdose. There was my review of the splendid Iconoclassic reissue of her live album Season of Light, and more recently, a review of One Child Born, a one-woman show devoted to Nyro’s music. The bottom line is that I have been a fan of her music since the ’60s, and yet somehow fan doesn’t seem like a strong enough word. I’ve turned to Laura Nyro on dark days for more than 40 years, and I’ve always found comfort and compassion there. There are few people whose music has meant more to me over the years.

Today I bring you Laura Nyro’s song “Timer”. I first heard it when it appeared on her magnificent 1968 album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. Though it begins with a fierce proclamation of love for the title character, it soon morphs into a perfect example of the classic soul shuffle that Nyro made famous. If you asked me to choose a favorite Nyro song, I’d have trouble selecting one, but “Timer” would certainly be one of the top candidates. When people ask me what Laura Nyro’s music is about, this is the song I play for them. Though Laura Nyro is gone, her music remains a living example of the fact that soul music can come from anyone, anytime, even a young half Italian – half Jewish girl from the Bronx.

Todd Rundgren was friends with Laura Nyro. In fact, he wrote a song about her on his first solo album, Runt. It was called “Baby Let’s Swing,” and it was part of three-part medley. Perhaps you’ve heard it. What’s delightful about Rundgren’s tribute is that he adopts the same shuffling piano style that characterized so many of Nyro’s songs. But were you aware of the existence of a more complete version of “Baby Let’s Swing” than the snippet that is part of Rundgren’s medley? When I first heard this a few years ago, being the Nyro fan that I am, it was a complete revelation for me, and today I’m happy to share the extended version of “Baby Let’s Swing” with you.

About the Author

Ken Shane

Ken Shane lives in Narragansett, R.I. He is a freelance writer and far and away the oldest Popdose writer. In fact, he may be the oldest writer, period. He wants you to know that he generally does not share his colleagues' love for the music of the '80s, and he does not forgive them for loving it. (Ken passed away in November 2022. R.I.P. —Ed.)

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