Thursday, July 3, 2008

St. Nina

There is no other singer who inspires my schizy devotion like Nina Simone. I love her, except those times when I can't stand her, and the two sensations can battle back and forth in the space of a single song. I know her extravagant stylings are part of her charm to many of her admirers, but I like her much more when she's at her most restrained rather than that weird yodeling and growling she indulges in.

Is that just me?


  1. Oh, I love her too...and yes, without the flourishes.
    Like all geniuses she takes risks and they can go so right...or so wrong...sometimes at the same time.

  2. Who is this woman? Why do I know her? She’s in my collection filed under artist’s that make me seem more intellectual than I actually am. I never listen to her, to melancholy. Like Janis Joplin, she sounds better on a rainy day.

  3. Jason
    Exactly. Such a fine line between genius and Whoops.

    aye boy
    sounds like you have a perfect grip on her.

  4. You've nailed her exactly. She was a brilliant artist and a fairly horrible person, and the two are likely quite intertwined.

    Having done stints over the years in ushering, front-of-house, stage management, and other unglamorous parts of the Business We Call Show, I put La Simone firmly on a list (of three, total) performers whom I resolved I would rather die than have anything to do with again.

    That said, she could, when so moved, give an amazing performance. I remember one set that consisted, in its entirety, of variations on "Young, Gifted, and Black" - riveting, for almost forty-five minutes. Then she stalked off stage, never to return.

  5. My favorite episode of Nina Simone:

    "While gardening in her backyard (in the South of France), she was disturbed by the loudness of two teenage boys swimming next door. When they persisted to be loud after she asked them twice to keep it down, Simone responded by shooting a buckshot rifle over the hedge towards the two boys. One of them was slightly injured and Simone was ordered to pay a fine of $4,600 plus damages to the injured boy's family. She was also put on probation for 18 months."

  6. So spot on. I love her, except when I hate her.

    There's an oft-recorded, never-successful song from the 1960's called "Don't You Pay Them No Mind," which Nina included on her "High Priestess of Soul" LP. It's far from a great song (and an unusual foray into commercial pop-soul territory for La Simone), but it's probably my favorite Simone performance -- because she really turns an average pop song into something quite wonderful and touching.

    It was presumably written with an interracial coupling in mind, but when I first heard it, it wasn't much of a stretch for my fertile gay mind to latch onto it as relating directly to my homolicious life...

  7. She is sensational, but Miss J must agree- sometimes a bit much. Who knew she was such a bitch, tho. That's disappointing.

  8. She was sublime and insane. Sublimely insane.

  9. Her "I love you Porgy" is perfection. So simple, so deep.

    Have you heard the annoying (to me, anyway) new remixes of her, trying to rave her up and make her more current. Idiotic.


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