Laura Nyro was one of the unsung heroes of 1960s pop. Though the singer/songwriter released a number of albums, many of her most enduring songs were covers recorded by other artists such as Three Dog Night and Blood, Sweat & Tears. “She had a kaleidoscopic musical sensibility that fused elements of folk, soul, gospel and Broadway tradition into intensely introspective songs that transcended easy stylistic categorization,” The New York Times wrote when Nyro passed away in 1997.
One of her best-known tracks is “Wedding Bell Blues.” First written and recorded by Nyro in 1966, it was later famously covered by the 5th Dimension in 1969. Singer Marilyn McCoo’s voice explodes off the LP as she sings of her desire to walk down the aisle with her beloved Bill. She evokes his name again and again, begging him to tie the knot.
The latest artist to get hit with the “Wedding Bell Blues” is none other than Morrissey. The one-time Smiths’ frontman released a new version of the song in advance of his upcoming album of ‘60s and ‘70s covers. And what a glorious cover it is. Morrissey sings of his love for Bill with just as much passion as McCoo or Nyro did before him.
Morrissey is joined by another guy named Bill, Green Day’s leading man Billie Joe Armstrong, who provides backing vocals. The arrangement is similar enough to both the original and the famous cover that it is instantly recognizable from the opening note (for those who listen to oldies radio, anyway). Armstrong, whose voice is less polished, comes in occasionally and gives counterbalance to Morrissey’s swagger. Together, the two gents introduce the song to a new generation and open up new possibilities for reinterpreting Nyro’s songbook.
Click here to listen to more Laura Nyro covers.