Stoned Soul Picnic

Album: Stoned Soul Picnic (1968)
Charted: 3
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  • 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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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" doesn't always mean getting high on marijuana. In this case, it refers to drinking alcohol and having a good time at a glorious picnic - 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.
  • Craig G sampled this on his 1991 track "Smoothing Out the Rough Spots"; Crystal Waters sampled it on her 1994 track "Ghetto Day."

Comments: 13

  • Wolfgang from Europe"Surrey" - an American carriage
  • AnonymousSurry is for riding in a buggy or a surry. Notice the hand movements depicting holding horses reins. I was 17 at that time
  • JimIf "surry" is a contraction of "let's hurry," then the song begins "Can you let's hurry? Can you picnic?" That makes no sense.
  • Mark from 19145@Ken,You are correct about surry.
  • Mavis from Upper Great LakesThis song conjures up a multi-cultural gathering on a riverbank, circa 1967-68, with live but mellow music, soul food, kids and dogs running freely, women with flowers in their hair and men in dashikis - oh, those were the days. Who cares what surry means? I want those days back...
  • Frank from Rochester,nyI was 15 and me and my family were at the Steel Pier that night and saw the 5th Dimension! I never realized that Helen Reddy was the opening act. I have the program for the Steel Pier from that night so I'll have to see if Helen Reddy is mentioned. Years later what was left of the 5th Dimension were preforming at the NY State Fair and I brought the program there and LaMonte McLemore signed it for me.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 3, 1968, the 5th Dimension were the main act* at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey...
    At the time the quintet's "Stoned Soul Picnic" was in it's second of three weeks at #3 on Billboard's Hot Top 100, that was also it's peak position on the chart, and it spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #2 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1967 and 1976 the 5th Dimension had thirty Top 100 records; seven made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" for 6 weeks in 1969 and "Wedding Bell Blues" for 3 weeks, also in 1969...
    Original group member Ron Townson passed away on August 2nd, 2001 at the young age of 68...
    May he R.I.P.
    * The opening act was Helen Reddy, she had yet to have a Top 100 record, not until 1971, her pay check was $600 {the 5th D. got $11,000}.
  • Rick from VirginiaIts funny, as I get older I am figuring out that so many of the pop acts that I ignored as a kid, while being into Hendrix, Zep, etc., were very, very talented and professional. I am a big Jimmy Webb fan and heard someone refer to Laura Nyro as the female version of Jimmy when they were first starting out. I knew that Jimmy wrote Up, Up, and Away for them and David and Bacharach wrote "One Less Bell to Answer" and somehow that led me to "surry" down the garden path towards finding out more about Laura Nyro. While trying to decipher this song I found this blog article (below) which I think is worth sharing. By the way, the vocal performances and harmonies here are simply stunning, the women lovely... just an amazing group at the top of their powers, working with the best songwriters available. Too bad it took me so long to get here.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 19th 1968, the 5th Dimension performed "Stoned Soul Picnic" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    One week later on May 26th, 1968 it entered Billboard's Top 100 chart at position #95; eight weeks later on July 21st it would peak at #3 {for 3 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 16 weeks...
    It reached #2 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart; the two weeks it was at #2 the #1 record was "Stay In My Corner" by the Dells...
    R.I.P. group member Ron Townson {1933 - 2001}, Laura Nyro {song's composer, 1947 - 1997}, and Mr. Sullivan {1901 - 1974}.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhI pretty much loved all the hits by the 5th Dimension; this song is no exception. I also love the legacy of Laura Nyro. Both should have received more accolades than given. This is a song that reminds me of simpler times in my life. It has a soft, easy going and easy listening appeal to it.
  • Helina from Atlanta, Ga@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."
  • Musicmama from New York, NyI'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.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyAfter 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".

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