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.

Two For Tuesday: Laura Nyro

I feel like I should know more about Laura Nyro than I do. Todd Rundgren said that after he heard Laura’s songs, he “stopped writing songs like The Who and started writing songs like Laura.” Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Melissa Manchester, and Alice Cooper, among others, have acknowledged her influence on their music. Oddly enough, I never actually heard her do any of her own songs. It might have been because she took the first part of the Seventies off, or because the radio stations in Chicago didn’t consider her important enough to add to their playlist, or maybe I just wasn’t listening to the stations that were playing her music, or maybe (most likely) I did hear her and just didn’t realize it at the time. I heard plenty of her songs, though: The Fifth Dimension performed several of her songs, as did Blood, Sweat & Tears and, as we know, Three Dog Night had a hit with her “Eli’s Coming” in 1969.

And When I Die” was the third single released off of BS&T’s eponymous second album. It rose to #2 on the Hot 100 in late 1969 and early 1970. Laura wrote the song when she was seventeen and sold it to Peter, Paul & Mary, who recorded it for their sixth album, The Peter, Paul & Mary Album. Here’s Laura’s version, which appeared on her first album, More Than A New Discovery (1967).

The Fifth Dimension recorded “Sweet Blindness” on their 1968 album Stoned Soul Picnic (the title track was also written by Laura). It rose to #13 on the Hot 100 and #45 on the R&B chart. Laura did her version of the song on her 1968 album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession.

Laura died of ovarian cancer in 1997, just shy of her fiftieth birthday. There is a very well-done website dedicated to her memory, and naturally there’s a Facebook page.

Laura Nyro, your Two For Tuesday, June 21, 2016.