I can also marvel at how Nina crafts her solo: how she builds up from very, very simple phrases, increasing in complexity with complete precision and assurance until it feels like she is about to run out of road, but in in the nick of time she pulls up and returns to the simplicity. Not once, but twice in that very short solo. A trivial song? - yes, maybe - but done with poise and panache: beautifully sung and craftily performed.
Now look at/listen to this one: Love Me or Leave Me. Such intensity - such a look!. She plays with great precision, and I just love how that solo very soon morphs into something with very clear baroque influences, almost Bach-like.
Here's a contrast: Summertime. I am in awe of her
And perhaps this is the key to why I find her music so fascinating. There is a sense of depth there, of complexity - even in the simple tune we started with, the frivolity of the tune is tackled with complete professionalism. In other tunes there is a sense of the strength born of survival, the joy that comes from pain endured:
Try this: Feeling Good. "It's a new dawn / it's a new day / it's a new life for me ... and I'm feeling good". Of course these are optimistic words, but her voice doesn't quite tell the same story - it's a voice that has just been through a trial: it's a new life because the old one has had to be left behind ...
This blog is about the music, but of course Nina Simone was also very involved in the civil rights movement: how could she not have been, being Young, Gifted and Black at that time and place?
What engages me especially in her music is that throughout all these tunes, whatever the style, there is evidence of an intensity, an intelligence, a willingness to tackle everything, even playfulness, with complete seriousness of intent: Like these: Ain't Got No ..., How it Feels to be Free and of course Little Girl Blue
Inspiring stuff: may it never be forgotten.
PS. Just found this and this: "it's meant for a queen, and I am a queen." Yes indeed.