Another reason to celebrate: Trees of the Ages, Laura Nyro lives in Japan

Recorded live in Japan in 1994, it also features the great notes of John Kruth’s epic poem, which we are happy to share with you today.

Now is the perfect time for this album to arrive. It’s springtime again, and there is the joy of liberation in America and beyond as the long season of gloom and doom slowly wears off. Once again, we can rejoice to be in the sun again, no longer under house arrest but free to enjoy nature again. Trees, flowers, birds, squirrels and other wildlife outside our windows are all in the happy grip of June, and this album – Trees of the ages – happens as a celebration of our endurance.

As avid Laura Nyro fans around the world (a club to which this writer proudly belongs) already know, every record she has made in her 49 years contains a miracle of beauty, inspiration, street wisdom. and ages, beautiful art, melodic splendor and dimensional love for a life spent inside songs. By her death in 1997, she had already created enough really great music to last a lifetime. Unlike other great songwriting careers, this one did not seem incomplete. It seems likely that with such a bright mind, making the entirety of his opus during his earthly life has never been a problem.

Her live shows, as those who were there well know, were different from most other concerts in that she did not perform songs. It was entertainment, but so much more. She fully inhabited each song and gave it a voice. On stage, she radiated a beautifully Zen calm, as the music – filled with her warm, jazz-fueled chords, street lyricism and soulful vocals – shone like moonlight.

Laura Nyro has aged, but she has never aged. His songs never got old. They are truly timeless. That writers often become poetic when the subject is Laura Nyro speaks of this magic in songs and in her performances. Prose alone for Laura Nyro is simply not enough. John Kruth’s stunning liner notes, which he kindly allowed us to reprint here, are an epic, exhilarating and inspirational addition to this trip. Her lyrics resonate with the luminous joy that radiates in her songs and her mind. Kruth, a songwriter, scholar at the same time, reached with real-time reverence this realm from his songs and brought back his poem.

Mr. Kruth, who also contributes to American songwriter, is the author of numerous books on our greatest songwriters and musicians. His most recent, Hold On World: The lasting impact of the Plastic Ono group of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Fifty Years On, was released on June 1.

Trees of the ages
Laura Nyro live in Japan
By JOHN KRUTH

Dark hair envelops her pale face like the night sky swallowing the moon.

Her lips are smeared with bittersweet vine poems that invite and seduce, while her moonbeam, long and silvery fingers slowly float over the ivory keys of the piano, finding and stroking warm chords that resonate in the chambers of the heart. from Osaka to the Bronx.

A melancholy architect who, since the age of five, has built a musical universe that she has laid stone by stone, a yellow brick sidewalk that zigzagged to her private Oz, where Judy Garland and Claude Debussy shared a pike -nick in the eternal fields of poppies, under a “broken rainbow”. Laura, Mother Earth, threw in her sonic gospel and jazz summer salad, complete with doo wop croutons and a tangy dressing of dizzying Broadway musical motifs.

Brown earth tones that gently rocked words that cannot be expressed, however playful and graceful they are, without the embrace of melody. Eyes staring into the distance, lost in thought, listening to something that no one else can hear, like having a conversation with the divine.

A woman of the “wild world,” Laura was never the type to color between the lines. Known for driving her sidemen to the brink with tempos that change with every mood. Each song, a prayer. Brief and fleeting meditations, as time is suspended in the moments between the last notes which fade and the applause which falls like snowflakes on a hot cast iron stove. The Japanese audience so cautious and polite, hoping not to break the gossamer spell she has woven with the clap of the hands.

The harmonies spring from the three Dianas (only Laura Nyro could have a choir of Dianas) echo to her every word and emotion. “Diana,” a name traditionally associated with the Roman goddess of fertility, hunting, and childbirth, which translates to “bright,” “divine,” “fertile” and “perfect.” As her piano beats, she names the poet strumming the lyre, Sappho, the “Tenth Muse”, who lived and died on the island of Lesbos. Louise’s Church ”is dedicated to chic Russian sculptor Louise Nevelson, tragic jazz diva Billie Holiday and Frida Kahlo, who painted her autobiography in brilliant hues.

You can learn a lot from just one of Nyro’s songs. Which prompted me to do a little more research beyond the usual stuff like his baby boomer birthday: October 18, 1947 (barely two years after the war ended) and what his daddy said. Louis Nigro (yes, she changed her name) made for a living: blowing the jazz trumpet and tuning pianos. According to my sister Wicca Conleth, of St. Paul, Minnesota, “the moon on February 22, 1994 (the date of this recording) was in Cancer, at 17 °, in the phase known as Waxing Gibbous – a time for manifest deep emotion and a sense of belonging to the world. But being in cancer, the stomach, lymphatic system, and sexual / reproductive organs were especially more sensitive and needed extra care. “

We human beings are constantly confronted with forces that are both unknown and beyond our control, often feeling like the star of a movie we didn’t write and clearly don’t direct, but we still wonder when and how it will end. Laura’s gentle reading of “And When I Die” takes on a deeper meaning here, knowing, as we do now, that she would soon be gone and “a child. [will be] born and the world will continue… ”Like her mother, Gilda, the accountant, Laura was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer. By the spring of 1997, she was gone at forty-nine, the age at which her mother died. Her ashes were then scattered under “The Tree of Ages” at her home in Danbury, Connecticut.

Everything about Laura Nyro was a drama, from the way she threw her head back as she sang her lonely moon mermaid songs that flowed from her throat, sculpting the air into Van Gogh’s curves that swirled and continued. rippling like waves of wind, like pearls of sweat sparkled on her forehead and trickled down her neck like moonlight tears, bursting and streaming down the cheeks of those who (still) need her , think they know her, bought a piece of her soul for $ 6.95 from Sam Goody, and repeatedly listen to her voice igniting joy and beckoning them through the dark night of the soul.

And although unpredictable, she never acted! Black-eyed gypsy Madonna lights another cigarette in her belly by candlelight. The rituals she performed regularly so as not to drown in a stream of emotions became a lifeline to thousands of others around the world in silent distress. Though they may not show it by lining up to enter to see her, beneath the surface of their eager faces, in the flatfish territory of their souls, lies a suitcase of grief, that cargo of fate. that we all lug around until it finally, effortlessly,
slipping from our back,
one morning hallelujah.

In these (and those) sad / crazy times, there remains the eternal hope that a song can still save us. “Save the country! “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle”… yes, indeed. Concerned about the fate of our planet, our environment, humanity and animals, Laura Nyro became a vegetarian and animal rights activist, joined the peace movement, the women’s movement, and the movement of soul, stirred by rock’n’roll, and R&B. She knew that music was the healing force of the universe, generously providing “an invitation across the country” and a chance to dance in the streets. She smiled in the face of adversity, while signaling “The Poverty Train”, addressing issues of racism and sexism that we have already faced (and foolishly thought we had solved) with the struggles and protests of the years. 50, 60 and 70.

It’s late now. The windows are opaque with the night. The moon is distant and high in the sky, her pale face shrouded in another storm of raven black hair, as Laura sings her songs “Luna Rosé” that echo through the walls of time, back in her days. seated alive at the piano in Osaka, dressed in a silky kimono and tabi (split-toe) boots, punctuating the end of each offering with a soft “arigato” (thank you). Time continues to spin and flash like the carnival rides she once took, while the laughing boys in her teenage days in the Bronx, stood like clumsy flowers, watching, joking, smoking, throwing cigarette butts in oily streets and puddles of rain, while she sang,
“It can never be the way we want it to …”

No, I guess not. But we still have the music.

–John Kruth,
April 13, 2021


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