Margo Guryan passed away in 2021.

After college, she signed a publishing deal with John Lewis’ MJQ, the premier home for jazz writers, and worked as a secretary on producer Creed Taylor’s new jazz label, Impulse!. Gurian’s songs received attention; they were recorded by Harry Belafonte, Chris Connor, Anita O’Day, and others.

Words and Music reveals Guryan’s demos from 1957 to 1966 – songs that were fun, emotional and bold for their time. Kiss and Tell provides sober reasons for a lover to leave his spouse. “Four Letter Word”, recorded during the most intense period of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, sang a dictionary of “dirty words”, starting with “war, killing, guns, hate, injury, injury, death.”

In 1966, while Gurian was living in Manhattan’s West Village, a like-minded songwriter, David Frishberg, stopped by with a copy of the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds.” . Amazed by Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows,” Gurian began writing “Take a Picture” in a new style.

The album is filled with Sgt.’s love songs, befitting its cultural moment. Peppery Brilliance: Orchestral music, psychedelic guitar, Dixieland brass, harp, harpsichord, flute. Gurian’s candid charm, coupled with the song’s indestructible melody, keeps things flowing. One highlight was how she incorporated the Bach chorale “Jesus, Joy of Human Desire” into the swinging march of “Someone I Know,” a reverie about hooking up with a stranger.

Although the album sold poorly, its songs found other outlets in the late 1960s and early 1970s, especially the sneakily sexy “Sunday Morning.” The song caused quite a stir among Spanky and Our Gang, and gained popularity in France (Marie Laforêt’s “Et Si Je T’aime”) and Israel (Shula Chen’s “Bo Habaita”) by rewriting the lyrics focus on.

Guryan is constantly writing and producing new demos, sometimes changing the topic. The trilogy of songs inspired by the Watergate hearings includes “Buzz,” whose title refers to the famous sound of tape erasures, with thinly veiled lyrics such as “The attorney general said he’d do anything/ Help the president become a king”.

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