Phoebe Snow, RIP
April 26, 2011 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Phoebe Snow, singer of 1970s hit 'Poetry Man,' dies at 60.

Born Phoebe Ann Laub in New York City, she was raised in a household where Delta blues, Broadway show tunes, Dixieland jazz, classical music and folk music recordings were played around the clock. As a teenager, she carried her prized Martin 00018 ac guitar from club to club around Greenwich Village, playing and singing on amateur nights.

According to her Wikipedia entry Phoebe snow was only 58 when she died.

Never Letting Go - Phoebe Snow

Phoebe Snow and Linda Ronstadt It's in his kiss

Linda Ronstadt, Phoebe Snow The Married Men 05 19 1979

Phoebe Snow Poetry Man

Harpo's Blues By Phoebe Snow

Every Night - Phoebe Snow

Phoebe Snow-No Regrets
posted by nickyskye (46 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Splunge at 10:45 AM on April 26, 2011

Well Hell, man. This sucks. Another great voice.

posted by djrock3k at 10:46 AM on April 26, 2011

posted by SisterHavana at 10:47 AM on April 26, 2011

I was just listening to her duet with Michael McDonald on "Knock on Wood" from the NY Rock and Soul Revue tour last night. Bummer.

. . . . <- Knocks
posted by emelenjr at 10:49 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

She also sang backup on the transcendent Kokoku by Laurie Anderson, whose lyrics feel strangely apropos.

I come very briefly to this place. I watch it move. I watch it shake.
Kumowaku yamano. Watashino sakebi. Watashino koewo.
Ushano kokoku. Watashiwa sokoni. Watashiwa asobu.

Mountain with clouds. A cry. My voice.
Home of the brave. I'm here now. And lost.

They say the dead will rise again. And here they come now.
Strange animals out of the Ice Age. And they stare at you.
Dumbfounded. Like big mistakes. And we say: Keep cool.
Maybe if we pretend this never happened, they'll all just go away.

Watashiwa sokoni. Watashiwa asobu. Mewotoji. Mewotoji.
Kikunowa kotori. Watashino sakebi. Watashino koewo.

I am here in this place. Losing. My eyes are closed. Closed.
Birds are there. Hearing something. Shouting. My voice.
(And yet, we could all be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time.)

Kumowaku yamano. Watashiwa sokoni. Watashiwa asobu.
Kumiwaku yamano. Kikunowa kotori. Watashino sakebi.

Mountains with clouds. I am there. Lost.
Mountains with clouds. Birds are there. Hearing something. A shout.

They say the world is smaller now. Small world.
They say that man is taller now. Tall man.
They say the stars are closer now. Thank you, lucky stars.
You come very briefly to this place.
Jikanwa tomaru. Ushano kokoku.
Time is stopped. Home of the brave.
posted by mykescipark at 10:49 AM on April 26, 2011 [10 favorites]

May her bad times be gone at last : (
posted by hal9k at 10:52 AM on April 26, 2011

She stepped away from the spotlight to care for her daughter and never regretted it.

posted by tommasz at 10:54 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Snow also composed and sang the "Go 4 It" promotional jingle for WDIV Channel 4 in Detroit back in 1980.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:55 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by leslies at 10:56 AM on April 26, 2011

posted by thanotopsis at 10:59 AM on April 26, 2011



Love me some Phoebe snow. Don't let me down, Two Fisted Love. Tell me you can't float up to heaven on that voice.
posted by cashman at 11:01 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

A great songwriter and classy singer.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:02 AM on April 26, 2011

I loved Phoebe Snow when I was growing up. Some of my favorite memories were listening to her music with my dad. I hadn't realized the details of her personal life, and a google search to learn more pulled up this kind of sad People article from 1976.

Phoebe's other musical dream is to be reincarnated as a saxophone.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 11:11 AM on April 26, 2011


I remember her best from Donald Fagan's New York Rock & Soul Revue. She did great versions of Shakey Ground and At Last.
posted by Sculthorpe at 11:14 AM on April 26, 2011

posted by Meatafoecure at 11:22 AM on April 26, 2011

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posted by crunchland at 11:26 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

She had the magic like very very few others.

posted by ahimsakid at 11:27 AM on April 26, 2011

Shit. She'd just returned to performing after the death of her daughter.
posted by Sassenach at 11:30 AM on April 26, 2011

I know I heard her late at night on NYC's WBAI a few years ago--I believe it was on Bob Fass' Radio Unnamable. Not only did she have a lovely voice, but a kind heart as well.
posted by hell toupee at 11:34 AM on April 26, 2011

I loved her voice.

posted by trip and a half at 11:38 AM on April 26, 2011

posted by beagle at 11:44 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by bz at 11:44 AM on April 26, 2011

Phoebe Snow not of course her real name and I wondered since she was a folk singer if the name she choose comes from this
posted by Postroad at 11:46 AM on April 26, 2011

posted by ms.jones at 11:50 AM on April 26, 2011

Her sophomore effort, "Second Childhood" isa sweet and magical album. Dave Sanborn, Will Lee, Don Grolnik and other NYC studio heavyweights play on it. Great taste and versatility, and a unique voice has been lost.

posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:57 AM on April 26, 2011

postroad: no link. But, I think you mean the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western promotional character?

Phoebe's Wikipedia page says that's correct, and sources New York Times.

By the way I they appear to be correct about the birthdate also (same date appears on iTunes page), so I think AP is wrong about age 60; she was 58.
posted by beagle at 11:58 AM on April 26, 2011

She took her name from the train, of course.

My parents got my name from hers.

:( :(

posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:58 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


The good, they die young.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:59 AM on April 26, 2011

posted by Vibrissae at 12:25 PM on April 26, 2011

I am sad beyond words to hear of Ms. Snow's passing. My beloved and I were fortunate enough to see her in concert during her heyday and she was amazing. She sat on the stage, just her and her guitar, and mesmerized the packed house (Spokane Opera House). I'll never forget her salient comment, as she worked up a sweat and sought something to mop her brow, coming upon a hand towel someone had left on the stage: "Eww, this towel is funk-eee!" Rest in peace and harmony, Phoebe! The angels in heaven must be glad you're there to sing with them!
posted by Lynsey at 12:40 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Who else knew her voice waaaaay before they connected it with her name? I'm thinking not only of the countless ads but from this little Reading Rainbow classic.

The irony is that the rest of her "serious" stuff was easily accessible to me. Because my parents had all of her albums, I knew she was important, but I never took the time to pull one out as I sifted through in search of the Beatles. When I actually connected the name to the voice, I told my mom how surprised I was that I'd known her all along... and my mom told me about her daughter, the reason she was a ubiquitous presence in 1980s jingles. My family knew a lot of people with severe disabilities, both well-off and barely making it by; my mom didn't have to explain much for me to understand. Phoebe Snow had done what she needed to do, and that was that.

But who could forget that voice? No wonder I could remember every one of those commercials.

Too soon, too soon.

posted by Madamina at 12:41 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I recall this CBS Sunday Morning segment [video | 09:00] from a few years ago about Phoebe Snow.
"Really moving segment from CBS Sunday Morning. It is the untold story of Phoebe Snow; about a tragic medical mistake that changed Phoebe's life and the loyalty of her longtime friend, Linda Ronstadt."
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on April 26, 2011

The Roseanne theme from the end of the series finale performed a cappella by Phoebe Snow
posted by ericb at 1:02 PM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

posted by Smart Dalek at 1:09 PM on April 26, 2011

I first learned about Snow when I was trying to figure out the identity of the incredible voice dueting with Paul Simon on Gone At Last.

posted by BurntHombre at 1:15 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Phoebe and I had the same guitar teacher in NJ... she lived a few houses down from my High School and babysat my first GF. We all rooted for her when she was first making it big, and man, she made it big fast! And that woman was tough as nails and her love for her baby daughter was so strong that she sacrificed a Big Star music career to take care of that baby that Doctors didn't expect to live, and that baby lived 31 years with her Mother by her side. And her Momma is by her side tonight.

The Heavenly Choir is gonna sound extra wonderful this starry night. Bye Phoebe. We love you.

posted by zaelic at 1:28 PM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

posted by victors at 2:53 PM on April 26, 2011

If you feel like remembering her with a cocktail, here's a classic. IIRC it's not actually named after her so much as what it was she too named herself for. But I could be remembering wrong.

Phoebe Snow

2 oz brandy
1 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1 to 2 dashes anise liqueur, to taste

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
posted by ifjuly at 3:22 PM on April 26, 2011

But who could forget that voice ?

Karen Dalton came to mind when those of us of a certain age first heard her sing.
posted by y2karl at 4:26 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

She's one of those people I always meant to dig into more, since what I heard of her, I liked.

posted by jonmc at 4:53 PM on April 26, 2011

posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:19 PM on April 26, 2011

Slight derail, but in the early Naughties, I was briefly friends with a prominent A&R man who was the protege of someone who basically invented New Wave. I remember one night, at some up and coming bar in the LES he'd "found" a song came on with Phoebe singing backup (damned if I can remember which), and he commented how much he liked it, to which I remarked, "Having Phoebe Snow singing backup for you never hurts" to which he replied, "Who's Phoebe Snow?"

He's no longer an A&R man. Which, all things considered, is probably for the best. Kids these days.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:42 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by quietalittlewild at 6:16 PM on April 26, 2011


She made even the coffee jingles classy.
posted by yellowcandy at 7:39 PM on April 26, 2011

Sad to read that she's gone. I remember hearing her singing jingles for something or other back in the '80's, and thinking to myself, "She must not be making records any more if she's doing this now", not being aware of her situation regarding her daughter. A unique voice is stilled.
posted by motown missile at 1:22 AM on April 27, 2011

posted by fiercecupcake at 6:38 AM on April 27, 2011

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