By Rona Topaz
Had she lived, she’d be celebrating her 63rd birthday today.
Phoebe Ann Laub was born in 1950 in New York. She recorded for a variety of labels throughout her long and varied career, and had a penchant for jazz and blues. She is best known for the song “Poetry Man”, ostensibly written about singer/songwriter Jackson Browne.
Musically she can be best described as a female counterpart to fellow Columbia Records artist Paul Simon, with whom she collaborated on the songs “Gone at Last ” and “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”. She was managed for much of her career by Elizabeth Weber, during the latter’s marriage to Billy Joel. She was also a good friend of fellow Columbia artist, singer, songwriter, multi instrumentalist, producer, columnist, and voice over artist Janis Ian, and she had the honour of being one of only 2 artists Ian was quoted as saying she could learn from, the other being Leonard Cohen.
Phoebe Laub derived her stage name from a fictional character created for the Delaware Railroad. More likely she heard the name used for a train that ran from Hoboken, New Jersey to Buffalo, from 1949-1960, during Ms Laub’s formative years.
During a brief marriage she gave birth to a severely brain damaged daughter, whom she chose to keep out of the institutional system and care for at home, which she did until her daughter’s death age 31.
Phoebe Snow died of a cerebral brain haemorrhage, pneumonia, and congestive heart failure at the age of 60 in 2011.