1969 was a peak year for Laura Nyro with 3 compositions in the Top 10 simultaneously. That year also saw the recording debut of Barbra Steisand’s sister Roslyn Kind, who has recorded a new version of Laura’s “Save The Country.”
By Warren Kurtz
Photo by Walter McBride, courtesy of roslynkind.com
50 years ago, in 1969, Laura Nyro, as a songwriter, had in the Top 10 “Eli’s Coming” by Three Dog Night, “And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears, and “Wedding Bell Blues” by The 5th Dimension, the quintet who had success in the prior year with her compositions “Stoned Soul Picnic” and “Sweet Blindness.” 1970 saw continued success for Laura as a writer when Barbra Streisand’s “Stoney End” hit the Top 10, Barbra’s first Top 10 hit since “People” from Funny Girl in 1964, and three more hits for The 5th Dimension, “Blowing Away,” “Puppet Man” and “Save the Country.” Now Roslyn Kind has released a new version of “Save the Country” along with a video reflecting the song’s current relevance.
Back cover of 1969 RCA debut album Give Me You
GOLDMINE:Side one of your 1969 debut album for RCA, Give Me You, ended with your featured single, “It’s a Beautiful Day,” one I also have by The Sunshine Company as “On a Beautiful Day.” You also rerecorded a version of this a couple years ago.
ROSLYN KIND: That was The Sunshine Company? I always thought it was Spanky & Our Gang.
2017 photo for updated version
GM:They do sound similar. I also enjoy the flip side of your single, which served as the finale on your first album, one that some people may know by Mike Curb’s studio group Max Frost and The Troopers, “The Shape of Things to Come,” written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. There is such power in your voice.
RK: Thank you. I am very passionate about the topic. Like “Save the Country,” this is another song that is fitting for these times, from the movie Wild in the Streets, where the young people put the adults in jail. With my songs, I have an aim of getting people together. Even when I perform on stage I look people in the eyes. I love to end with a wonderful message. I include everybody. People say to me that they feel like they are in my living room. I think we must try to do that with everybody. Wouldn’t it be an incredible world if money didn’t control things. You should be graded on who you are as a person with integrity, passion, knowledge, intelligence and love.
Flip side: The Shape of Things to Come
A side: It’s a Beautiful Day
1969 RCA publicity photo, courtesy of roslynkind.com
GM:Your debut album includes your version of The Beatles’ “The Fool on the Hill” and one that some may know as the flip side of Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” single 50 years ago, “A Modern Day Version of Love.” I love your delivery and the tempo changes on these songs.
RK: I didn’t even know it was a Neil Diamond flip side. I love the drama in it. I love Shirley Bassey and I picked up the drama in my heart.
With Ed Sullivan for a 1969 TV performance, courtesy of roslynkind.com
GM:Jumping forward a couple of decades, when you were in the musical Leader of the Pack in the late ‘80s, what part did you play?
RK: I played songwriter Ellie Greenwich. It was fun doing those numbers and the dancing. I did it at Stage West in Calgary for four months. I loved it. We started in spring and it was still snowing there but because it was dry there it wasn’t so cold. I remember being on a mountain range and it looked like we were on a bundt cake with powdered sugar on top. On my days off I would go to Banff and Lake Louise.
GM:In the ‘90s you were a guest on “The Nanny.” My wife Donna, our daughter Brianna, and I loved watching that TV show each week and picking up on some of the musical references, too.
RK: I loved working with Fran Drescher and Renee Taylor. I like fun and I like people with good hearts and good spirits. That’s what I want around me all the time, good-hearted people with a lot of love and compassion.
GM: Now you have released a new version of “Save the Country.” The 5th Dimension’s “Save the Country” version in 1970 seemed like an extension of “Sweet Blindness.” You took Laura Nyro’s composition in different directions, all in the same recording, even with a jazzy part reminding me of The Manhattan Transfer. Your vocal delivery, combined with the video, makes the message really hit home.
RK: It was truly a labor of love from the heart. I am so thankful. Paco Silva Sanchez did a phenomenal job on the video because his heart was in it. He has been in the country for a long time. Paco is so artistic. He was thrilled too at my asking him to work on it.
GM:You mention Paco with the video. There is another person that I want to highlight, Luis Muscaro on violin. Wow! I love the violin accents he brings to the recording.
RK: Yes, wasn’t he brilliant? It was such a great project and we took our time. Remember, I did this song a long time ago. I had a new age act in the early ‘90s because I wanted to bring the world together. We had our ups and downs at that time, too. There are a few versions of this song. There is the Lauro Nyro version on piano, The 5th Dimension’s version, and even Paul Revere & The Raiders had a version. We listened to the different versions and that made it so difficult as we had to come up with something so new and so out of the box. The lyric is simple but it’s straight to the point, so it’s really all about the arrangement. We worked on it from our hearts, from the depths of our souls from the day I brought it in to Stephan Oberhoff I told him that I feel I really need to put this out as a recording now, with what this country is going through, what this world is going through. I need people to come together. I need to sell what I feel about unconditional love and enlightenment. I need to get this hate and fear out of the way. I need people to know that we all have the same color blood. We are all part of each other. We need to learn to trust and love instead of all this horrifying stuff that is going on. It only takes one individual to stir it up again. I guess it was always lying there behind a rock all the time. Some people think that it is good that it is out, so we know what we are fighting. I think it is teaching people to be involved. It is teaching us all to become active to speak up for our rights, that we all matter. We all have value, and all deserve to be respected and trusted and loved, unconditionally. I wish we could learn that from the animal kingdom. I have become more sensitive to this as I am maturing, that an elderly person needs to be hugged and touched, that a baby needs to be dealt with gently and animals too, because they don’t have a voice. We have been put on this earth to learn unconditional love.
GM:We are pleased to let our Goldmine readers know now about your new recording and we will plan on talking again when the full album is available. At that time, I would also like to highlight your mid-‘70s songs from Columbia. This was a period where I enjoyed the female vocalists on the label very much including Jane Oliver’s “My First Night Alone Without You,” Barbra’s “My Heart Belongs to Me,” and your singles “There’ll Be Time” and “She Loves to Hear the Music,” both with “Loneliness” as its flip side.
RK: Sure. With “Loneliness,” for me it relates in a lot of ways because being in show biz a lot of times you are lonely. You are on stage and you get love and then you are on the road and you travel, which is kind of a lonely place to be by yourself, but I love people. I love camaraderie. That is why I want to bring people together, so we can have more of that.
Sisters on stage, with Barbra Streisand, courtesy of roslynkind.com
GM:I am looking forward to discussing the new songs, too. Do you have any highlights to share?
RK: We have four completed. One is one that I co-wrote in the ‘90s with my musical director Michael Orland and our friend Judy Quay called “Light of Love.” When we wrote it, we were having Chinese food, opening fortune cookies and we all had the same fortune. Can you imagine? I did it in my shows when I was touring the country, but we haven’t done it in a while. This was going to be the first song we were going to release, until all this chaos started happening, then I said that “Save the Country” must come out first. Hopefully the full CD will be coming out later this year and it will include a couple of special medleys too. Thank you so much. This has been a pleasure and we’ll talk again later this year.
In concert, courtesy of roslynkind.com
See the “Save the Country” video at:
Warren Kurtz is a Contributing Editor at Goldmine. “Warren’s Fabulous Flip Sides” can be heard most Saturday mornings, in the 9 a.m. hour, Eastern time, as part of “Moments to Remember” at wvcr.com or iHeart Radio – search WVCR.