Libby Titus

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Libby Titus (born Elizabeth Jurist; 6 July 1947) is an American singer, songwriter, actor, and concert producer.

Life and career[edit]

Titus was born in Woodstock, New York. Her studies at Bard College in upstate New York were cut short by pregnancy and marriage at the age of nineteen.[1] This did not, however, prevent her pursuing her musical ambitions. In 1968, she released Libby Titus, an album of folk-rock and pop covers, on Hot Biscuit.[2][3] She continued to perform as a singer, and provided backing vocals for Martin Mull's debut album Martin Mull (1972) among others.[4] At the same time she was developing her songwriting skills. Her second album, also confusingly called Libby Titus, had four high-profile producers - Phil Ramone, Robbie Robertson, Carly Simon and Paul Simon - who produced separate tracks. Carly Simon also wrote or co-wrote four songs for the album. It was released by Columbia in 1977.[5][6] It contained four songs co-written by Titus, including the one for which she is best known, "Love Has No Pride", which she wrote with Eric Kaz.[7] It had already been recorded several times – most notably by Bonnie Raitt on Give It Up (1972) and Linda Ronstadt on Don't Cry Now (1973) – and is now established as a standard.

In the late 1970s, Titus collaborated with Burt Bacharach. They wrote at least five songs together, two of them ("Riverboat" and "I Live in the Woods") appearing on Bacharach's album Woman, and one ("In Tune") on his soundtrack for the film Together? (Amo non amo), both released in 1979.[8][9] Titus also sang "Riverboat" and "In Tune" on these recordings. Carly Simon's 1979 album Spy included "Love You By Heart", a song she wrote with Titus and Jacob Brackman.[10] Titus later wrote "The Sailor and the Mermaid" with Brackman and sang it with Dr. John on the Sesame Street album In Harmony (1980).[11]

Titus and Dr. John wrote the music for Robert Frank's short film Energy and How to Get It (1981), and performed some of it on screen.[12][13] As an actor, Titus had small parts in Mike Nichols's Heartburn (1986) and Penny Marshall's Awakenings (1990), in which she appeared as a club singer.[14][15]

Titus still performed occasionally at venues around New York in the mid-1980s.[16][17] Never a powerful singer, she was admired at this stage of her career for her "feeling for style, especially in jazzier numbers" and her "appealingly sultry insouciance".[18] In the second half of the 1980s, Titus began producing "rock-and-roll musicales featuring well-known musicians ... in New York restaurants and clubs".[19] She later recalled that her "horrid little evenings" started "at this little Italian restaurant on Thirty-ninth Street that had room for thirty people. One night it would be, say, Dr. John plus Carly Simon, and it was by invitation only."[20][21]

These sessions led to the "informal concert" at the Lone Star Roadhouse on 20 September 1989 featuring Dr. John, Donald Fagen, Phoebe Snow, Jevetta Steele, and Bonnie Raitt that gave birth to the New York Rock and Soul Revue, which Titus produced with Fagen until the beginning of 1992.[22][23] Fagen credits Titus with rekindling his interest in live performance, on which he had turned his back in 1974.[24] The Rock and Soul Revue also brought Walter Becker to New York, and so played a part in the 1993 reformation of Steely Dan, which Fagen and Becker had disbanded in 1981.[25]

Titus went on to write songs with Fagen, including "Florida Room" on Kamakiriad (1993). In 1996, Pony Canyon Records anthologised three previously unissued songs that Titus recorded for Bearsville in 1971, two by Eric Kaz and one by Kaz and Titus. Other recordings from this period remain unissued.[26]

Tributes and depictions[edit]

Titus has been described as "glamorous and compelling" and a "formidable singer-scenester".[27][28] Her large personality has prompted several musical tributes. She is the subject of Carly Simon's song "Libby" from the album Another Passenger (1976), to which Titus also contributed vocals.[29] She inspired Dr. John's piano composition "Pretty Libby" from the 1983 album The Brightest Smile in Town.[30] Singer-songwriter Wendy Waldman wrote about their friendship in "Long Hot Summer Nights" on the album Strange Company (1978).[31] "The Great Pagoda of Funn" from Donald Fagen's 2006 album Morph the Cat "rhapsodizes on Fagen’s marriage to songwriter Libby Titus".[32]

Personal life[edit]

Titus's mother, Julia Irene Jurist née Mooney (b. 29 December 1911, d. 27 January 1989), was an Earl Carroll dancer.[33][34] In 1966, Titus married novelist Barry Titus (b. 1938), grandson of Helena Rubinstein (1870–1965); they separated in 1968.[35] The couple had a son, the writer Ezra Titus (b. 23 July 1966, d. 30 July 2009).[36] From 1969 and through much of the 1970s, Titus's partner was musician Levon Helm (1940–2012). They had a daughter, the singer Amy Helm (b. 3 December 1970). For some years after Titus split with Helm, her partner was musician Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) (b. 1940).[37] In 1987, Titus met musician Donald Fagen (b. 1948), who was a contemporary at Bard College, and who still remembered his one sighting of her "from a distance" on campus two decades earlier.[38] They married in 1993.[39]

Songs[edit]

This list, compiled primarily from the ASCAP database, is unlikely to be complete.[40] Not all of these songs have been recorded.

  • Can This Be My Love Affair (with Carly Simon)
  • Chicago Farewell (with Burt Bacharach)
  • Crossfade (with Donald Fagen and Carole Bayer Sager)
  • Florida Room (with Donald Fagen)
  • Fool That I Am (with Al Kooper)
  • Half Hour of Heaven (with Martin Mull)
  • Honey It's Only Me (with Tom Snow)
  • I Live In the Woods (with Burt Bacharach and Carly Simon)
  • In Tune (with Burt Bacharach)
  • Love Has No Pride (with Eric Kaz)
  • Love You By Heart (with Carly Simon and Jacob Brackman)
  • Night of the Flood (with Al Kooper)
  • The Night You Took Me to Barbados in My Dreams (with Hirth Martinez)
  • On the Moon (with Tom Snow)
  • Rain Down Warm (with Al Kooper)
  • Riverboat (with Burt Bacharach)
  • The Sailor and the Mermaid (with Jacob Brackman)
  • Single Girl (with Burt Bacharach)
  • Take Me Home (with Martin Mull and Dave Frishberg)
  • Wake Up (with Eric Kaz)

Recordings as singer[edit]

  • Libby Titus (1968, Hot Biscuit Disc Company)
Cloudy (Simon & Woodley)
The Fool on the Hill (Lennon & McCartney)
Fancy Dancing Man (Gordon & Bonner)
Coconut Grove (Sebastian & Yanowsky)
Younger Generation (Sebastian)
Baby Close Its Eyes (Hardin)
Michael from Mountains (Mitchell)
Here, There, and Everywhere (Lennon & McCartney)
You Didn't Have to Be So Nice (Sebastian & Boone)
Holiday (Gibb & Gibb)
Strawberry Fields Forever (Lennon & McCartney)
It'll Never Happen Again (Hardin)
  • Various Artists: Bearsville Box Set (1996, Pony Canyon Records)
Wake Up (Titus & Kaz) (1971)
My Love Will Never Die (Kaz) (1971)
Sorrow (Kaz) (1971)
  • Martin Mull: Martin Mull (1972, Capricorn)
Unspecified tracks (backing vocals)
  • Carly Simon: Another Passenger (1976, Elektra)
In Times When My Head (Brackman & Simon) (backing vocals)
  • Libby Titus (1977, Columbia)
Fool That I Am (Titus & Kooper)
Kansas City (Leiber & Stoller)
Can This Be My Love Affair (Titus & Simon)
The Night You Took Me to Barbados in My Dreams (Titus & Martinez)
Love Has No Pride (Titus & Kaz)
Yellow Beach Umbrella (Henske & Doerge)
Can't Believe You're Mine (Simon)
Miss Otis Regrets (Porter)
Wish I Could (Simon)
Darkness 'Til Dawn (Simon & Brackman)
  • Burt Bacharach and the Houston Symphony Orchestra: Woman (1979, A&M)
Riverboat (Bacharach & Titus)
  • Burt Bacharach: Together? (1979, RCA)
In Tune (Bacharach & Titus)
  • Various Artists: In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record (1980, Warner Bros.)
The Sailor and the Mermaid (Titus & Brackman) (with Dr. John)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alec Wilkinson, "Return of the Dark Brothers", Rolling Stone, No. 837, 30 March 2000, pp. 32–38.
  2. ^ Libby Titus First Album, Hideki Watanabe's Libby Titus Fan Site. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  3. ^ Hot Biscuit Disc Company, Soulful Detroit Forum. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  4. ^ Martin Mull: Martin Mull, The Band Website. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  5. ^ Libby Titus: Libby Titus, The Band Website. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  6. ^ Libby Titus: Libby Titus, Discogs. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  7. ^ Libby Titus Second Album, Hideki Watanabe's Libby Titus Fan Site. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  8. ^ Burt Bacharach and the Houston Symphony Orchestra: Woman, Discogs. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  9. ^ Burt Bacharach: Together? Allmusic. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  10. ^ Carly Simon: Spy, Allmusic. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  11. ^ Various: In Harmony, Discogs. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  12. ^ Various: It's Clean, It Just Looks Dirty, Discogs. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  13. ^ Energy and How to Get It, IMDB. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  14. ^ Heartburn, IMDB. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  15. ^ Awakenings, IMDB. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  16. ^ Stephen Holden, "Music Noted in Brief", New York Times, 17 January 1983, p. C.20.
  17. ^ Stephen Holden, "Folk City at 25: The Times They Are a-Changin'", New York Times, 13 September 1985. p. C.5.
  18. ^ Stephen Holden, "Music Noted in Brief", New York Times, 17 January 1983, p. C.20.
  19. ^ Stephen Holden, "Spontaneous Interaction in a Tribute", New York Times, 24 September 1989, p. A.71.
  20. ^ Quoted in Fred Kaplan, "What Rhymes with Orange Alert?" New York Times, 26 February 2006, p. 2.32.
  21. ^ Quoted in Alec Wilkinson, "Return of the Dark Brothers", Rolling Stone, No. 837, 30 March 2000, pp. 32–38.
  22. ^ Stephen Holden, "Spontaneous Interaction in a Tribute", New York Times, 24 September 1989, p. A.71.
  23. ^ Alec Wilkinson, "Return of the Dark Brothers", Rolling Stone, No. 837, 30 March 2000, pp. 32–38.
  24. ^ Fred Kaplan, "What Rhymes with Orange Alert?" New York Times, 26 February 2006, p. 2.32.
  25. ^ Alec Wilkinson, "Return of the Dark Brothers", Rolling Stone, No. 837, 30 March 2000, pp. 32–38.
  26. ^ Bearsville Box Set, Hideki Watanabe's Libby Titus Fan Site. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  27. ^ Scott Spencer, "Levon Helm's Next Waltz", Rolling Stone, 27 April 2000, pp. 46–48, 84–85.
  28. ^ Robert Christgau, "Fagen and Becker Go Back to Their Old School: Doing it Again", Village Voice, 14 March 2000, p. 73.
  29. ^ Carly Simon: Another Passenger, Discogs. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  30. ^ Dr. John: The Brightest Smile in Town, Allmusic. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  31. ^ Wendy Waldman: Strange Company, Discogs. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  32. ^ Tom Lanham, "Donald Fagen", Paste Magazine, 31 May 2006. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  33. ^ California Death Index 1940-1997, FamilySearch. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  34. ^ Julia Mooney, IBDB. Retrieved on 12 March 2013.
  35. ^ Levon Helm with Stephen Davis, This Wheel's On Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2nd edition, 2000).
  36. ^ Charlie Boxer, "Obituary", Ezra Titus Website. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  37. ^ Libby Titus: Libby Titus, The Band Website. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  38. ^ Alec Wilkinson, "Return of the Dark Brothers", Rolling Stone, No. 837, 30 March 2000, pp. 32–38.
  39. ^ Richard Harrington, "Steely Dan Does it Again: On the Road After Almost Two Decades, They're the Hottest Ticket in Town", Washington Post, 22 August 1993, p. G01.
  40. ^ Repertory Search, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Retrieved 12 March 2013.