365 Days of Album Recommedations – Jan 6

The Best of Nina Simone


There is no album that could possibly encompass the towering achievements of Nina Simone, so I’ve simply opted for the album I’ve listened to the most, which is this particular Best Of.

There is simply no one like Nina Simone.

No other vocalist, performer, songwriter, pianist, or person is anything even remotely like Nina Simone. Hers was a talent that defies … everything.

This collection includes a wonderful sampling of those things that she did so especially well. Her own compositions are represented here by the shattering “Mississippi Goddamn” and the remarkable “Four Women.” Her funky/soulful/gospel/blues spirit is in incredible form on songs like “Sinnerman” and “See-Line Woman.” Her complete dismantling and reinventing of standards and show tunes can be experienced through her frighteningly intense takes on “I Loves You Porgy” and “Pirate Jenny.”

And then there is “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” And “Ne Me Quitte Pas.” And “Wild Is The Wind.” Bone-chilling, all.

And then there is “I Put A Spell On You.” My missus and I, this was our first dance together after we got married. The most important dance of my life.

You don’t have to know anything about her history to be swept away by the power of her music. But as you begin to learn her story, you will become ever the more fascinated. Such a complicated, complex life. Or perhaps more accurately, such complicated and complex lives. For not only were her inner and outer lives complete lives in and of themselves, but that many phases and stages of Nina Simone were each lifetimes as well.

Recommended song to start with: “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”

Why that song? Because you know the song, and the song was already great. And then you hear her do it. And then you understand what she could do that could not, cannot, and will not be done by anyone else.

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