It was the early seventies, I presume. For some reason, my brother had taken me to see Newport County football team in their home ground; even though we were really Cardiff City supporters. It says much about the kind of boy I was that I remember nothing about the match but I do remember that during the half time interval, when music was played over the tannoy system –was this usual? -that this song came on. I’d never heard it before, and I thought it was fabulous.
Perhaps I inwardly jumped for joy because it had a kind of spiritual hymn-like quality; perhaps I responded to the raw, simple gospel appeal of the lyric: ‘Come on people, come on children…’; perhaps the vague but idealistically broad scope of the song –‘Save the country… now!’ -also resonated with my 17 year old spirit. But there was the sound too –something very rich and fruity and colourful in these voices belting out in unison then breaking into delicious harmonies. I was hooked.
Did I know anything about Laura Nyro then? I don’t think so. If I had heard of her at all, I might have read –via the New Musical Express –that she wrote many songs which other people recorded –eg Barbra Streisand (Stoney End) and maybe I was already familiar with Wedding Bell Blues, a hit for this same group which I was listening to, there in the Newport ground.
I was still a couple of years from buying the ‘New York Tendaberry’ album, where Laura Nyro sings ‘Time and Love’, a similarly strong, anthemic kind of pop song, with an equal power to rouse goosebumps.
But ‘Save the Country’ –this is the one I’ll remember, on that cold weeknight football fixture and the halftime interval music which touched me in secret ways.