Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 08/30/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/30/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>Laura Nyro


LAURA NYRO IS UNBLUSHING ABOUT her lifelong affection for rock and roll's golden girl-group era of the early '60s. "That music is about real singing," says the 46-year-old Bronx-born artist. "There's a passion for melody, for phrasing. It's sweet, it's street, it's wonderful. Whenever I go out to perform, or even if I just sit down at a piano, I always naturally want to sing those songs. I call them my primal teenage heartbeat songs."

Though she prospered as a hit songwriter in the late '60s—the Fifth Dimension's "Wedding Bell Blues," Three Dog Night's "Eli's Coming," Barbra Streisand's "Stoney End" and Blood, Sweat and Tears' "And When I Die" are all her compositions—Nyro says she's always looked upon her songwriting as the means to an end of artistic expression rather than as a commercial enterprise. "It really was a complete surprise to me whenever one of my songs became a hit," she recalls. "I just worked on my craft, and the next thing I knew, I would hear my work on the radio."

These days, Nyro, the single mother of a 14-year-old son, divides her time between homes in New York and Connecticut. "I must have the city and the country in my life to be complete," she says. And her writing has taken a turn toward sociopolitical themes. Among them: feminism ("The voices of the movement have to be kept alive") and prejudice ("To me, prejudice is ignorance. It's the opposite of love, the opposite of God"). "Songwriting," she adds, "is a very open, growing process. And as you experience life, it's only natural to reflect those experiences in your art."

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