Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Splendid Stylings of Syd Straw

It was the summer of 1993. I was living in Albany and I had just worked a Sunday double shift waiting tables. It wasn't the best of jobs (though I must confess that working the Sunday buffet shift was pretty easy) so when I found out Syd Straw was playing at QE2 that night, I was happy to go get to see some live music. I think I also had to stay late at work, but the concert must have started late because I got there about halfway through Vic Chesnutt's set. It was probably about midnight, then, by the time Syd came on. I wasn't really that a big fan at the time, but she converted me that night. The stuff from her 1989 album Surprise was great and she did killer covers of Wreckless Eric's Whole Wide World and Robyn Hitchcock's She Doesnt' Exist Anymore. Plus, she must have played til like 3 am - I admit to leaving at around 2:30 because I was exhausted (and I probably had to do another double shift the next day)
So here's a 'lil Syd compilation for you - and this time, I remembered to put the information about the albums the songs came from in the comments for each mp3.

The Toughest Girl In The World
The T.B. Is Whipping Me
Heart of Darkness
I've Been The One
Blue Shadows on the Trail
(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear
Love, And The Lack Of It
Chasing Vapor Trails (His Turn to Cry)
Buenos Aires
Almost As Blue
For Shame of Doing Wrong
Almost Magic
The Train That Takes You Away...
Think Too Hard
Harper Valley P.T.A.
What Am I Worth
Love is a Friend of Mine
The Unanswered Question?
Never Before and Never Again


Anonymous said...

nice to have this, thanks !

Festoonic said...

I saw her perform at the Chester (Vermont) Art Guild's annual meeting and art sale in 1999 or so. Nobody knew anything about her except that she was the daughter of famed local actor and raconteur, the late Jack Straw, and was reputed to sing and play guitar. It was the strangest show I've ever seen, but she seemed genuinely happy to be performing there without so much as a hint of Downtown attitude. She was very, very cool. You left out a couple of tunes I would have chosen for a Syd mix tape, but included others I don't know, so this oughta be a pleasure. Thanks!

Ishkabibliophile said...

I didn't know her father was a performer. The raconteur part also helps explain her live show personality - she's a true character in the very best sense of the word.

Hope you like the comp!

Anonymous said...


Chris Kearin said...

Don't forget her latest record, Pink Velour.

My review is here.

Vaughn said...

Syd Straw is fantastic! Why on earth a talent like her's has had such little attention is beyond me.
Great comp, you hit on most of my favorites. There is a duet with Grant McLennan out there on his HORSEBREAKER STAR CD that's worth seeking.

Ishkabibliophile said...


I don't think I knew about the duet with Grant McLennan - I'll have to check that one out. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

i didn't know that artist and,boy,how wrong i was...Thanks again!!!


Don said...

It's also worth noting that Syd sang the version of "Que Sera Sera" that opened the movie Heathers. She also did a cover of "Meeting Across The River" on a Springsteen tribute, and "I Must Be In Love" on a Rutles tribute.

Ishkabibliophile said...

Didn't know about the last two you mentioned (especially the Rutles tribute - though it does seem a perfect fit for Syd), but I do love her take on Que Sera Sera. I think I looked for it when I was putting together the comp, but it was hard to find (it's not on the original soundtrack.)

Anonymous said...

I saw her with Marc Ribot at Nightstage in Cambridge Ma for the Surprise tour in the late 80's (dates are fuzzy). She was hilarious! Oh yes and the music was quite good too!

Anonymous said...

She is great. I saw her on the War & Peace tour and loved it. Just noticed she's playing this Tuesday - 15th Feb 2011 - at Southpaw in Brooklyn. Hope to catch her there. W.

Anonymous said...

Correct my last point: it's monday 15 Feb 2011 at Sothpaw! W

Anonymous said...

She's great. I only wish her releases weren't so infrequent. W

Ishkabibliophile said...


It really is a shame she doesn't put out more albums (and that she never got the renown she deserved)

codeg said...

Can you kindly repost this compilation? Many thanks!

Ishkabibliophile said...

Consider it done.