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Stoned Soul Picnic


The 5th Dimension

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

The members of the 5th Dimension loved this song and were shocked to find out it was written by a Caucasian 20-year-old girl from New York City named Laura Nyro. After this song became a hit, they recorded several other Nyro songs, including "Sweet Blindness," "Blowin' Away" and "Save The Country." (thanks, Ken - Louisville, KY)
Bones Howe, who engineered the 5th Dimension track "Up-Up and Away," became the group's producer and introduced them to this song. Howe explained in the book By the Time We Got to Woodstock: The Great Rock 'n' Roll Revolution of 1969: "Laura (Nyro) was a good friend and I used to visit her in New York whenever I was there and she made me tuna fish sandwiches. She was great and I was a huge fan and I recorded enough of her songs so that there could be a 5th Dimension album of all Laura Nyro songs. I believe she was really an important songwriter and brought poetry to her work that kept it from being just pop. But she went where she went and the world didn't follow."
"Stoned" in this case refers to drinking alcohol and having a good time - Nyro mentions wine and moonshine in the lyrics as the beverages of choice. Two years earlier, Ray Charles released "Let's Go Get Stoned," which was also about alcohol.
The 5th Dimension
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Comments (3):

@Ken: Black people knew that the word "Surry" certainly not "Black slang." I don't know about others. Surrey is a real word in the English language.Nyro simply thought that the word fit in poetically with the song and stated to the producer, Charlie Colello, that the word "had no meaning but just sounded nice." She also spelled it differently "surry". My mother told me what the word meant as a child and she said "surrey" was a horse drawn carriage. If you watch the live choreography of the song on youtube when the 5th Dimension perform it, you will see that they were intelligent enough to put in carriage like movements to their dance steps as if they are pulling a horse and then tossing a whip when they come to the "Surrey,Surrey" part. So I strongly doubt that it was a shortening of the phrase "let's hurry."
- Helina, Atlanta, GA
I've always loved this song. Laura Nyro is criminally neglected as a writer as well as a performer. (The only lyricists I like better are Bob Marley, John Lennon and Bob Dylan. And I like Nick Drake as much as I like Nyro.) The Fifth Dimension's performance of it is great.

It's interesting to note that Nyro's legacy has lived on, to the extent that it has, mainly in what she wrote for other performers. This song is one example, "Wedding Bell Blues" is another.
- MusicMama, new york, NY
After the 5th Dimension had a hit with this, a lot of people thought te word "Surry" was black slang. Actually it was Laura Nyro's own invention of shorenting the phrase "let's hurry".
- Ken, Louisville, KY
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