Old New Borrowed Blue #6: Nina Themed
If you’re not already a fan of Nina Simone, I think you will be by the time you’re finished reading this blog post. Although I have yet to watch it, Netflix has recently released a documentary called, “What Happened, Miss Simone,” that’s been reviewed over at LittleByListen, where you can watch the trailer. In connection with the film’s soundtrack, various artists have been releasing covers of Nina’s songs, and since some of those covers could actually represent any of the categories here, I thought I’d might as well use it as an excuse to post all Nina tracks.
Something Old: Apparently Nina hated that she had to sing standards all the time, so I’ll begin with her original, “I Ain’t Got No… I Got Life,” in which Nina is upfront about her poverty, but lays proud claim on what she does have. In this song, I have found my life motto: when all else fails, I got my boobies.
Something New: Last week Lauryn Hill showed up on the Jimmy Fallon show to perform one of her covers for “What Happened, Miss Simone,” and I nearly died of happiness. “Feeling Good” was an obscure show-tune until Nina recorded it for I Put A Spell On You, turning it into the popular standard it is now, covered by everyone from Michael Bublé to Muse. Ms. Hill gives it yet another distinct flavour, while paying obvious tribute to Nina’s version.Something Borrowed: Nina’s piano tracks are some of the most sample-worthy recordings out there, and her profile on WhoSampled is appropriately long – I’m positive that I’ll be posting others here in the future. Today, however, I’d like to share Reflection Eternal’s “For Women,” a rap remake of Simone’s “Four Women”.
Something Blue: As you might be thinking by now, pretty much everything Nina ever recorded was “blue” in some way. She was a master of turning deep sorrow into meaningful, soul-filled hope, and sometimes some righteous anger. Written in 1964, “Mississippi Goddam” is her response to multiple violent acts against black people in the southern states, particularly the Alabama Baptist Church bombing and the assassination of civil rights activist, Medgar Evers. The protest song begins almost playfully, but you can hear Simone’s outrage grow until there’s no other response than to join in her angry song.