Margo Guryan is a former American singer and songwriter, best known for her legendary debut album “Take a Picture” which was released in 1968 under Bell Records. During the span of her career, she had five albums and two singles under her belt, plus numerous songs she wrote for other singers and bands. Margo Guryan is also known for her distinctive sound. The groovy-laidback beats, funky guitars, lyricism that felt like daydreams in its intimacy and simplicity, drenched in the haze of the 70s psychedelia with a very strong pop sensibility, and her almost whispery voice that glides along with the melodies made her one of the most distinguished voices that were successful in capturing the spirit of the decade.
She grew up in New York during the 30s all the way to the 50s, her mother majored in Piano at Cornell University, and her father played piano too. Though she was exposed to music from an early age, her true love of music was first started in the world of jazz. When she studied classical and jazz piano at Boston University, she was captivated by many jazz pianists at that time. She used to watch other students play jazz in the practice room at college, and she used to listen to a lot of jazz records too. Ahmad Jamal was one of her favorites, and she also listened to other great jazz pianists too, like Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, and Bill Evans, just to name a few.
From the beginning, when she was six years old and learning to play piano for the first time, until later in her teenage years, she faced many difficulties in learning to master the piano. She wasn’t very fond of learning to play it and it was hard for her to find the right mentor. She felt like she was better at composing rather than playing. That realization led her to write songs and compose in her own style. In her earlier years, her tunes were more jazz-leaning, driven by her fascination with the genre. Until one day one of her friends introduced her to Beach Boys.
She instantly fell in love with Beach Boys the first time she listened to it. She bought Pet Sounds and listened to all of the tracks in it, but one track that she had always come back to was “God Only Knows”. From there, her interest in the pop movement grew. She listened to other pop acts such as The Mamas and Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, and Harry Nilsson. She believed that more innovations are happening in pop music rather than in jazz because she considered many jazz players at that time were trying to replicate the free-jazz pioneer, Ornette Coleman.
Eventually, that musical journey that she went through brought her to release “Take a Picture”, a sunshine pop records that was praised by Billboard and the general public that later became the album we associate Margo Guryan with until today. In the process of recording the album, she collaborated with John Simon and John Hill who served as the producer and arranger, under the supervision of David Rosner, and the band personnel at that time were John Hill on Guitar, Kirk Hamilton on flute and bass, Phil Bodner on oboe, Paul Griffin on Keyboards, and Buddy Saltzman on drums. In the Japanese version of the album, one of her biggest tracks, Sunday Morning was included in the release.
Although she has abandoned the music world a long time ago, her drive and distinctive musicality still bear resonants for today’s young listeners. Today, in a world where the gaps between musical genres collided and withered away, Margo Guryan’s works once again gained a place in the hearts of music lovers around the world.
Margo Guryan Interview https://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2018/03/margo-guryan-interview.html
Take a Picture (album) https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Take_a_Picture_(album)