Do they still put photos of missing persons on milk cartons? If so, we need to put Syd Straw on a few half gallons. She’s a wonderfully gifted singer and songwriter, a former member of the Golden Palominos waaay back when, who has put out only a handful of solo albums in the past 25 years. I always loved her voice, and would like to hear more of it.
I turned to the ol’ Interwebs in an effort to find out what she’s been up to, but it was no help. (Well, at least Wikipedia told me that she started her professional career as a backup vocalist for Pat Benatar.)
Syd’s website has expired. I even resorted to Facebook – and I’m not even on Facebook! – but her Facebook page has no posts since January of this year, and the previous post was from May of 2014. “Reclusive” doesn’t do her justice.
The most recent references I could find were from an NPR story about a Harry Nilsson tribute and she sings one song on a 2015 folk album of kids nursery rhymes. She used to do a yearly “Heartwreck” Valentine’s Day show, but that ended in 2014.
At least there are a few videos of Syd performing.
Here she is with the old Letterman band and Dave Alvin:
Here’s a song from her 1996 album:
I think Syd is right up there with Emmylou Harris as a harmony vocalist/backup singer. Check out her work on this tune from former Go-Betweens frontman Grant McLennan.
And here’s one where she sings with Michael Stipe. I think he was in a band of some note.
And a fun live song with Dave Alvin at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, CA (side note: McCabe’s is a fantastic place to see a show.)
The video of the Harry Nilsson session features Syd for a second, and as a special bonus to middle-aged fans of obscure artists (I’m on that list), also includes Bob Forrest, formerly of Thelonious Monster and The Bicycle Thief.
Hope springs eternal… maybe Syd Straw will put out a new album in 2016.