From the Readers

One of the great joys of this project for me has been the wonderful letters I've received from readers - slash - Nyro fans. Here, a smattering of their lovely words.

Thank you so much for this labor of love. As a young man, now fifty, I would walk the streets of the upper west side dreaming of running into her and singing, hanging, making love and generally getting lost in a twilight dream with her. - Peter Mentrie

It helps me remember the Laura of my heart. - Ellen Sander (friend of Nyro's in the '60s)

I was tempted to stop reading periodically to write a stream-of-consciousness email to you to tell you how much your work touched me. You so caught her spirit throughout the book-I just kept saying "Yeah, that's right--that's Laura!" with every description and reminiscence of events in her life. You caught the Laura I knew beautifully. - Keith Decker (friend of Nyro's in '80s and '90s)

Much as I loved all of her work, until recently I mostly thought about and listened to the "early" albums, but now I find myself connecting with the other, later works in a new way and with a new understanding of how she had and was evolving in her life and art. I'm listening to all of her music with "new ears" - Damon Gay

This biography will bring her visions of love and peace to so many more people beyond the first generation, the original tribe… It will confirm for people who always wondered why I was so enamored of her and her work, just what her appeal was for me. - Tom Smith

As a fan, I found the narrative appealing and factual without being gushy; as a musician, I found the narrative helpful in the aesthetic sense. - Jeff Grunden

Just a note to say congratulations on a great book! They have three copies at Borders in Santa Barbara (actually, they have two now, because I bought one for a Christmas gift). - Bones Howe (producer of The Fifth Dimension's Nyro hits and of Nyro's 45rpm version of "Save the Country.")

Every word was a joy to read … I loved learning the details of the sessions. And of course, I loved the photos - I wish there were more. Thanks for bring Laura to life for me. - Alan Scopp

For years I thought I might try to do what you did; having read your book - after getting over that sharp jab that someone beat me to it - I'm elated that you did such a solid job. I learned a great deal, as your book filled in a lot of gaps and put to rest some rumors I had heard - Mark Sommer (who convinced Laura to perform at the first large animal rights march in Washington D.C.)

I'm reading the book as slowly as possible so as to savor the whole experience!! - Dirk Weiss

I bought your book on Sunday and have been inhaling it like a delicious meal. The only problem is I am almost finished and want to read more about her. She was a genius the likes of which we won't see again soon. - Paula Shatsky

The thing that sets this book apart from many music bios is your breathtaking knowledge of, and love for, music. And your reverence for the subject is lovely. - Tom O'Leary

It's a true labor of love, and I imagine bittersweet. As with JFK, MLK, RFK, and 9/11, I'll never forget where I was when my sister called and said, "Pick up the paper... Laura's dead." The day the music died... - Kathleen Lynch

I just loved your book, as I'm sure Laura would have. You brought me back into Laura's world once again. It will always be a place I will cherish in my memory. I remember asking Roscoe [Harring, Nyro's friend and road manager] on my way to our first meeting what Laura was like, I had heard so many stories from other musicians that I didn't know quite what to expect. Roscoe looked at me and said, "She's an angel." Well, he was right. I feel you really captured her spirit in your book and I learned things I didn't know about her early days in the music business, her "wild days," as she used to call them. - Frank Pagano, Laura's drummer for Live at the Bottom Line

You really captured Laura's essence. And you were fair and loving in your rendering…. And a small personal thank you for accurately quoting me. - Elysa Sunshine (bass player on Mother's Spiritual)

Your book … truly gave a sense of who she is and I don't think that it was easy. I saw her as daughter, sister, friend, lover, musician, mother, animal lover, woman, songwriter, performer, Columbia recording artist, communicator...I could go on & on…. I listened to her last night and … I was blown away in a new way at hearing her again after all this time, and your book certainly set the stage for that. -Anonymous

Once I started your book, I bought New York Tendaberry and Eli. I can't believe that it took me so long to hear her music (I'm from Australia, but that's no excuse!) Her music is a new-found treasure and inspiration. We singer-songwriters owe her a lot! - Greta Gertler

As one who still has my first copy of LP of More than a Discovery, I pray that other music lovers will find Laura and her glorious music through your book. I played in an all-girl band in the mid-'60s and we could not believe that Laura wasn't created just for us! - Janice Mancuso

Your passion and admiration for Nyro and her muse never tampers with your objectivity as a writer / journalist. Too, your descriptions, evocations and the rhythm of your syntax are, well, musical. - Frederick Woodruff

Thank you for writing a warm and caring biography of Laura Nyro. As a person who started college in 1967 when her first record came out, and who went through life changes (rebellion, work, marriage, fatherhood, elected official, etc.) that were accompanied and supported by new Nyro recordings along the way, I very much appreciated reading about a person I only knew through her music. - Dan Cindric

I just finished Soul Picnic a couple days ago and have been letting it settle inside me ever since. One really important response I've felt is you. You did a really fine job showing us who Laura Nyro was in her everyday life. Like so many others, Laura's music of spirit and soul have carried me through many many years. The album I first fell in love with was a scratchy, discarded LP version of Eli when I was thirteen. It had been left behind by my older sister when she went to college and the first time I played it, I was hooked. After that, I grew up, and grew spiritually, in tandem with her music. Now, 32 years later, she is still a really important force in my life. - Beth Cahape

I already loved Laura Nyro's music, but the book in particular and the reissues really deepened my appreciation and understanding of it. - Declan Smith

Thank you for walking the dog and lighting the light. You have made 2002 a nicer year for us all. - Bob Koska

…So many memories came back, appreciate books such as yours that focus as much or more on the art and music than the personal; her genius shown through. - Tom Hayes

I should do what you advised in the book: work my way slowly through her catalog. (Your detailed commentary on each of the releases would make that very interesting -- kind of like having a safari guide.) - Doug Allard

… Heartfelt thanks for embracing what was obviously a significant labor with such conscientiousness, skill, love, and (as an extra-added bonus, because I find this quality so rare in biographies) ... clarity! - Jim Finger

You write wonderfully and this book fills in so many of the missing pieces in my curiosity about Laura, one of my lifelong heroes. As for me, I am a rock musician/songwriter, having written songs with and for a number of artists including Phoebe Snow, Patty Smyth and Don Henley… Yesterday was my first time back visiting a friend who lives in the Beresford -- the apartment building, I learned upon reading your book, once was home to Laura Nyro. Although I have been there many times in the past 10 years, I experienced yesterday's visit with Laura hovering on my mind. So I played "Wedding Bell Blues" on the grand piano, looked out over Central Park West, and had a lovely moment. - Glen Burtnik

I recently received your Laura Nyro book as a gift from my brother, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your work! Laura has fascinated me for years, and I have only become more of a fanatic listener in the past 6 years. Your book provides so much valuable texture and background, to help understand the deep feelings and the beautiful sounds that Laura gave us. - Thomas Porter

I just now, this minute, finished your book on Laura and wanted to tell you, as the tears dry on my face, how much I love your book of her life. It is beautifully written, beautifully balanced and does what do few biographies do -- bring their subject to life. Although I've loved Laura's music for over 30 years, I knew little about her, and, while I enjoyed learning about the nuts and bolts of her chronology, what I really treasured is how you conjured her, like a genie from a lamp, so that she appeared vibrantly before me, in all her luminosity and shadow, as beautiful a spirit as I always suspected she was. - Steven Blaski

I just finished reading Soul Picnic and I'm crying in my tuna fish. Tears are mixing with the mayo. And I thank Goddess for the internet that allows me to sling my soul out into cyberspace to give you a hug and say, "Thank you, Sister, thank you, for celebrating the life of one of my personal icons in a way that moved me as deeply as did her words and music." - La Tigresa

I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed the book. I expected to read snippets of it, for research, but I got hooked and read the whole thing. P.S: My rather precocious five-year-old daughter is becoming a Nyro fan, too. The other day in the car she asked to hear "that cradle me song," which happens to be "Stoney End!" --Mike Torti, musician in Chicago tribute show to Nyro, which costarred his wife, singer Jen Chada.

As a fan of Laura Nyro since I was a love-struck teenager (1977 or thereabouts) I'd like to thank you for your fabulous bio which I got as an import when it came out -- it's the book she deserves -- written with love and appreciation. - Glen Colegate (London)

I bought it second hand, complete with a receipt from a book shop in Brooklyn, which sort of adds to the "value" of it. - Tim Williams (Australia)

I plan to buy a whole case of copies and try to find all of the people I listened to her with in dark candlelit dorm rooms so many years ago and send them all a copy. So many people loved her and always will, most of all me! I remember one young woman remarking "This is not pablum for the masses, this is something special and unique." - Mary Ann Reid

Very few books make a lasting impression on me, but Soul Picnic is one of them. Since I finished it, I have not stopped thinking about Laura's precious and amazing contribution to music, her artistic purity, her beliefs, her life, her humor and most of all her soul. If someone asked me what I would want to see in a bio on Laura, it would be exactly what you have written, and in a style most fitting to this unique woman. With its wise insight and details, your thoroughly researched page-turner made me mourn, but in a good way, the loss of someone who had the power to enrich lives simply by who she was. I had always felt she was my soulmate -- as I'm sure others have felt -- and I am grateful to you for lifting her up to the status she deserves. - Deborah Wood

Although a voracious reader, I've read very few books that have so expanded my awareness of things I had thought familiar. Your insight into Laura provided new perspective on what I had previously considered a Salinesque life. You also had the effect of reinforcing important truths that we all too easily forget -- namely that there's often a lot more depth, in people and situations, than one would otherwise expect; and that, despite the effort, it can be really rewarding to dig a little deeper…. Thank you for creating such a vivid and endearing portrait. - Corey Sherman

Although Laura has sometimes been something of a goddess/muse figure for me and many others, you really captured her lovely and very vulnerable humanity with neither sensationalism nor whitewashing. I really felt I knew her personally after reading your book. - Phillip Bennett

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