Gibsom Street

Album: New York Tendaberry (1969)

Songfacts®:

  • Stay away from "Gibsom Street." It's where the Devil dwells and he's hungry for another victim. Laura Nyro conjured the fictional locale on New York Tendaberry, an emotional exploration of the good and evil found in her home city. The narrator takes her chances on Gibsom Street to seek an abortion.
  • Because she couldn't read music, Nyro had to get creative in conveying her vision for her songs. "Musicians, they want to know about the bar, and all of that," she told Life magazine in 1970, "and I don't know any of that. I have my own language. I think of music in terms of colors, shapes, and textures, and sensory things, and abstractions. But once I have the instruments to work with, I can do a lot of things. You can take a string, and strings can be brazen, or they can be sweet, they can be pale. I would work on textures like that."
  • It took a while for the musicians on New York Tendaberry to decipher Nyro's unique musical language, but they eventually got the hang of it. "My first session with them, I had about twelve horns in the middle of 'Gibsom Street," said Nyro. "They were playing it very clean, and I wanted it to be over-emotional, so I got an idea. I said to them, 'Now when you play it, make believe you're Indians on the warpath,' because that fit the music and the feeling I wanted. And they all looked at each other - Indians? On the warpath? And they played like Indians on the warpath, and I got what I wanted."
  • Jazz musician Billy Childs covered this on his 2014 tribute album Map To The Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro. He told The South Bend Tribune: "Gibsom Street is kind of a metaphor for an evil place or a place that wishes ill on you. That could be anything. In my mind, that was a dark alley with gaslights lit up like a German Expressionist movie."

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