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Syd Straw is an American rock singer and songwriter. The daughter of actor Jack Straw (The Pajama Game), she began her career singing backup for Pat Benatar, then took her distinct voice to the indie/alternative scene and joined the Golden Palominos (also including Michael Stipe, Matthew Sweet, and Anton Fier). She released her first album, Surprise, in 1989; it featured contributions by Stipe, Fier, Richard Thompson, Jody Harris, Peter Blegvad, and a number of other well-known musicians. A second album, War and Peace, appeared in 1996. Recorded with a relatively obscure Midwest rock group called the Skeletons, it chronicled a brief and unhappy romance. In 2008, she released a new album, entitled Pink Velour, on her own label, Earnester Records. According to an earlier interview, the title track “is about my family moving back and forth between the east and the west, and my being kidnapped by my mother on Valentine's Day in 1969, and about not seeing my dad for almost seven years.”
A frequent backup singer and contributor to duets with other musicians, Straw has also maintained an intermittent acting career, appearing on the television shows The Adventures of Pete & Pete and Tales of the City. Straw's role on "The Adventures of Pete & Pete" as a middle school math teacher was introduced in the episode "Valentine's Day Massacre," and was reprised in the episodes "Hard Day's Pete" and "x=why?"
Syd Straw can be heard singing harmony and backing vocals on the Rickie Lee Jones albums Traffic From Paradise and The Evening of My Best Day. She is also featured on Leo Kottke's Peculiaroso, which Jones produced. Straw appears on "What Am I Worth" from the Dave Alvin album King of California. For a number of years she has given an annual "Heartwreck" live performance on Valentine's Day.
- 1989: Surprise (Virgin) - reissued in 2000 on Koch with two bonus tracks)
- 1996: War and Peace (Hi-Gloss)
- 2001: Live at the Triple Crown (TAO) with The Adventures Of...
- 2005: Whole Wide World: Uncollected Songs (self-released)
- 2008: Pink Velour (Earnester)
- 1988: various artists - Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films (A&M) - track 4(c), "Blue Shadows on the Trail"
- 1990: various artists - Rutles Highway Revisited (A Tribute To The Rutles) (Shimmy Disc) - track 1-7, "I Must Be In Love" (with Marc Ribot)
- 1992: various artists - Downtown Does The Beatles Live At The Knitting Factory 1992 (Knitting Factory) - track 10, "Don't Let Me Down (Beatles song)|Don't Let Me Down]]" (with Arto Lindsay, Mark Ribot, Joey Baron, and Greg Cohn)
- 1993: Chris Stamey and Friends - Christmas Time (East Side Digital) - track 10, "(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presents, Dear"
- 1994: various artists - Beat the Retreat - Songs by Richard Thompson (Capitol) - track 5, "For Shame Of Doing Wrong" (with Evan Dando)
- 1994: various artists - Red Hot + Country (Mercury Nashville) - track 16, "The T.B. Is Whipping Me" (with Wilco)
- 1994: various artists - A Live Christmas Extravaganza (Deko) - track 2, "X-Mas Twist"
- 1995: various artists - Live From Mountain Stage Volume 8 (Blue Plate) - track 9, "Golden Dreams"
- 1998: various artists - Real: The Tom T Hall Project (Sire/ Delmore) - track 10, "Harper Valley P.T.A." (with the Skeletons)
- 2000: various artists - One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen (Capitol) - track 12, "Meeting Across the River"
- 2001: various artists - Daddy-O Daddy! Rare Family Songs Of Woody Guthrie (Rounder) - track 8, "My Daddy (Flies A Ship In The Sky)"
- 1985: The Golden Palominos - Visions of Excess (Celluloid)
- 1986: Beat Rodeo - Home in the Heart of the Beat (I.R.S.)
- 1986: The Golden Palominos - Blast of Silence (Axed My Baby for a Nickel) (Celluloid)
- 1987: The dB's - The Sound Of Music (I.R.S.)
- 1987: Victoria Williams - Happy Come Home (Geffen)
- 1988: Eric Ambel - Roscoe's Gang (Enigma)
- 1988: Face To Face - One Big Day (Mercury)
- 1989: Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith - Evidence (Chrysalis)
- 1989: Mark Bingham - I Passed for Human (Dog Gone)
- 1989: Marshall Crenshaw - Good Evening (Warner Bros.)
- 1989: Van Dyke Parks - Tokyo Rose (Warner Bros.)
- 1990: Peter Blegvad - King Strut And Other Stories (Silvertone)
- 1990: Bloomsday - Fortuny (Island)
- 1990: Was (Not Was) - Are You Okay? (Fontana)
- 1991: Barkmarket - Vegas Throat (Def American Recordings)
- 1991: David Sanborn - Another Hand (Elektra)
- 1992: Freedy Johnston - Can You Fly (Bar/None)
- 1992: Marc Ribot - Requiem for What's His Name (Les Disques Du Crépuscule)
- 1993: Dave Alvin - Museum of Heart (HighTone)
- 1993: Rickie Lee Jones - Traffic from Paradise (Geffen Records)
- 1993: Vic Chesnutt - Drunk (Texas Hotel)
- 1994: Dave Alvin - King of California (HighTone)
- 1994: Doug Legacy with the Zydeco Party Band - King Cake Party (Wildcat)
- 1994: Grant McLennan - Horsebreaker Star (Atlantic / Beggars Banquet)
- 1994: Leo Kottke - Peculiaroso (Private Music)
- 1995: Tony Trischka - World Turning (Rounder)
- 1998: Richard Buckner - Since (MCA)
- 2000: John Greaves - The Caretaker (Blueprint)
- 2000: The Schramms - 100 Questions (Blue Rose)
- 2000: Christy McWilson - The Lucky One (HighTone)
- 2002: Wayne Kramer - Adult World (MuscleTone)
- 2003: Rickie Lee Jones - The Evening of My Best Day (V2)
- 2014: Wilco - Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014 (Nonesuch)
- 2015: Bill Wells & Friends - Nursery Rhymes (Karaoke Kalk)
- 1990: David Halley - Stray Dog Talk (Demon) - track 9, "Dream Life" (co-written with David Halley)
- "Pantera offers up easy-access disc ". The Spectator - Hamilton, Ont. Krewen, Nick. Jun 20, 1996 Page: 4
- Not The Last Straw (2004 interview)