Song Lyric Sunday: “Stoned Soul Picnic”

Helen tells us that today’s word is “soul,” which sent me back to the Laura Nyro songbook for today’s choice.

Laura wrote “Stoned Soul Picnic” in 1968, and The 5th Dimension, who clearly loved Laura’s songs, took it to #3 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart, and earned a platinum record in the process. I’ve linked The 5th Dimension’s version above, but I’m in a Laura Nyro mood, so I’ll use her version instead. It was on her 1968 album Eli and The Thirteenth Confession, on which you’ll also find her versions of “Eli’s Coming” (which I used last month), and another that The 5th Dimension covered, “Sweet Blindness.”

The lyrics, via MetroLyrics:

Can you surry?
Can you picnic?
Can you surry?
Can you picnic?

C’mon, c’mon and
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
There’ll be lots of time and wine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine
Stoned Soul
Stoned Soul

C’mon, c’mon and
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Rain and sun come in akin
And from the sky
Come the Lord and the lightnin’
And from the sky
Come the Lord and the lightnin’
Stoned Soul
Stoned Soul

Surry on surry
Surry, surry, surry, surry

There’ll be trains of blossoms
There’ll be trains of music
There’ll be music
There’ll be trains of trust
Trains of golden dust
Come along a surry oh
Sweet trains of thought
Surry on down
Can you surry?
Can you surry?

Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
There’ll be lots of time and wine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine
Moonshine
Stoned Soul yeah

Surry on surry
Surry
Surry
Surry

Of course, the thing everyone wants to know: what does Ms. Nyro mean by “surry”? Here’s Wikipedia’s explanation:

The word surry, used frequently in the lyric (e.g. “Surry down to a stoned soul picnic”), is a neologism by Nyro; its meaning is unclear. The verb surry is spelled differently from the noun surrey (an old-time carriage). When asked by producer Charlie Calello what the word meant, Nyro told him, “Oh, it’s just a nice word.” One possible meaning is that surry is a shortening of “let’s hurry.”

So now you know…

That’s Song Lyric Sunday for November 11, 2018.

22 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: “Stoned Soul Picnic”

  1. Hi John, great song. My sister use to listen to Laura Nyro all the time. Then I realized I used the wrong prompt. I used, “Waste.” IDK where I came up with that 😉 To late to change it, no worries. Have a great week. Getting ready for a R O A D T R I P !!! Blessings ❤ on your week…

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    1. It was a #3 hit for The 5th Dimension in 1968, which might have been a little before your time. I remember it was on the radio all the time when it was on the chart. The 5th Dimension did a lot of Laura Nyro songs…

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    1. I had always heard of Laura Nyro and was familiar with her songs, and I think I heard her a couple of times on the radio, but it wasn’t until I did a series on the composers of Three Dog Night’s songs that I realized what a fine performer she was.

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  2. Thanks for the explanation of “surry down”. When I first heard the song (the 5th Dimension version) I thought I was hearing that wrong, and blamed our cheap AM radio. Once I heard it clearly on FM, though, I just assumed I’d have to be stoned to understand. 🙂

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    1. Everything The 5th Dimension touched turned to gold. They were just that good. I figured most people were familiar with their version, so I thought letting Laura Nyro sing her own song would be a good choice.

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  3. I’d only heard the 5th Dimension’s version of this. It’s a great song. I never saw the word surry printed out, so always just imagined it being surrey, as in they were driving around the park in a horse drawn carriage and having a picnic. 🙂

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