Phoebe Snow, 1952-2011

Phoebe Snow, a hard-to-categorize singer with a gorgeous voice, crossed over yesterday – Tuesday, April 26 – in Edison, New Jersey. Snow, who was fifty-eight according to information at All-Music Guide, had undergone a brain hemorrhage in January 2010. (Wire reports of her death said that Snow was sixty years old; I think fifty-eight is correct.)

She came to prominence in 1974 with the release of Phoebe Snow, an album that showed her versatility, with its performances ranging from the jazzy “Poetry Man” – which went to No. 5 on the pop chart and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in early 1975 – to the bluesy take on “Good Times.” It was a literate and witty introduction to the listening public. From there she went on to record eleven albums – eight of which ended up placing on one chart or another, with the highest ranking being Phoebe Snow, which went to No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in 1975.

My favorite tunes of hers were her take on Paul McCartney’s “Every Night” from 1978 and her version of the Lennon-McCartney song “Don’t Let Me Down,” from 1976. (I think I’ll be writing a little more about her music tomorrow.)

After 1975, Snow focused less on her career and more on caring for her daughter, Valerie Rose Laub, who was born that year with severe brain damage. According to wire reports in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Laub crossed over in 2007. After Laub’s death, the newspaper said, Snow focused more on performing and recording. Her last release was a live album in 2008. Her last studio album was Natural Wonder in 2003.

Perhaps the most moving thing Snow ever recorded was “Keep A Watch On The Shoreline,” which was clearly about her daughter’s birth and struggles. It’s the closer to her 1978 album Against The Grain.

3 Responses to “Phoebe Snow, 1952-2011”

  1. I think the only thing I know by her is, not surprisingly, “Poetry Man.” I recall when she put out a record in the latter half of the ’80s (after ten years?). It used to get played in the store I worked at, but I don’t remember it.

    That song certainly gives me reason to check her out further.

  2. porky says:

    I loved her turn on Paul Simon’s “Gone at Last.” My wife was a fan so when we married and combined our collections, a handful of her LP’s sat on our shelves.

    The woman could SING!

  3. Alex says:

    Love, love, love “Gone at Last.”

    Sad that we lost someone with such an amazing voice and such an effortless way to glide between genres.

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