Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kisses and love won't carry me 'til you marry me, Bill

We just got home from the supermarket a little while ago, and now "Wedding Bell Blues" is stuck in my head.

Thanks a ton, Muzak.

The awesome reality about this song, of course, is that Marilyn McCoo — who sang the lead vocal on the classic 5th Dimension hit — and Billy Davis, Jr. — the "Bill" of the plaintive line, "Come on and marry me, Bill!" — actually did get married in 1969, a few months after the song was released, and are still (allegedly happily) married 38 years later.

Ain't love grand?

Still doesn't help me get this doggoned song out of my head, though.

Although many people presume that McCoo and/or Davis wrote "Wedding Bell Blues," given how inextricably entwined with their professional and personal lives the song has become over the past four decades, it's actually the work of the tremendously talented Laura Nyro, also the creative genius behind such standards as "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Sweet Blindness," and "Save The Country," also recorded by the 5th Dimension; Three Dog Night's "Eli's Coming"; and the unforgettable "And When I Die," made famous by David Clayton Thomas and Blood, Sweat & Tears.

It's one of the great tragedies of modern music that Nyro, perhaps one of the most brilliant composer/lyricists of the pop era, remains largely unknown today, for two reasons: (1) most of her better-known songs are more closely associated with other artists who covered them, as is the case with "Wedding Bell Blues"; and (2) she disliked performing in public — and particularly on television — and thus was not seen and appreciated as a performer by all that many people. Despite this relative anonymity, Nyro is frequently cited as an influence by musicians as diverse as Todd Rundgren, Joni Mitchell, and Alice Cooper.

Laura Nyro died of ovarian cancer in 1997, at the age of 49.

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