A Certain Generation's Rock Critic's Dream?
I’ve scheduled a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in February. I can’t wait to get there. I was there once when I was about 12. I don’t remember much about the place, but I remember loving it. You may recall, I love baseball as much as I love music.
As much as I love music I have only mild interest in one day visiting the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Each year the list of inductees gets more ridiculous. I no longer pay much attention or spend much time complaining about who gets in, but today I noticed that Laura Nyro is being inducted. I love the song she did with LeBelle, “The Bells.” Love it! It’s sad and beautiful, like my memory of seeing Braves pinch-hitter Mike Lum put an end ot Steve Carlton‘s 15-game winning streak in his magical 1972 debut season with the Phillies. Lum broke up an 11-inning tie game with a flare to right. I was seated along the first base line with my uncle, the same one who turned me onto rock ‘n roll. In ’72 he began taking me to Phillies games. When Carlton got on that roll, my lefthanded uncle knew it was special. He took me, his lefthanded nephew, to as many home games during that streak as possible. He always got us tickets along the first-base line, to better view the motion and wicked pickoff move of the sad-sack 1972 Phillies’ one shining beacon of hope.
I also love the big hit song she wrote for the Fifth Dimension, “Wedding Bell Blues.” Love that Fifth Dimension version! It’s sad and beautiful, which judging by photos and her music the late Laura Nyro seemed to be herself. Have you ever heard Nyro’s version of that song? It’s nowhere near as good. She also wrote “Stoned Soul Picnic.” Her version of that song is fine, although not quite as good as the Fifth Dimension’s. I won’t hold her writing of “And When I Die” against her. Her version is as bad as the hit version by Blood, Sweat & Tears. The entire conceipt of that song is bad to the bone. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
What the hell else did Laura Nyro do of note, of Hall of Fame note? She wrote “Eli’s Coming,” a hit for Three Dog Night that was unintentionally funny enough to avoid being as bad as “And When I Die.” I see references to her having written hits for Barbra Streisand. Am I forgetting some especially smokin’ Streisand tracks?
Please explain Laura Nyro’s induction in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. And please see if you can do so while avoiding beefs about the induction of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Beaver Brown Band, or whatever other dopes qualify these days. I know Nyro’s always been a critics’ darling for a certain generation, but who will understand her induction when the current crop of 70-year-0ld rock critics finally dies off? Shouldn’t future generations have some way of understanding her induction?