Sunday, May 22, 2022

Nina Simone, Wild Is the Wind (1966)

Do you know much about Nina Simone? I don't. Here's what I know. I know she was regarded as a sometimes difficult, troubled artist. I know she was a civil rights activist. I know that Nick Cave once performed a concert with her where she stuck a piece of chewing gum on the top of her piano. When she left, Cave wrapped the gum in a towel and saved it. Years after this concert, a rock-and-roll museum in Denmark asked Cave if he had any unusual artifacts to put in an exhibit. Why yes, he did: Nina Simone's gum. But then it became a big issue about how to transport the gum, how to preserve it, and how to display it. You can read more about all that HERE in a Vanity Fair article or if you're so inclined you can read the book, Nina Simone's Gum, by Warren Ellis. (FYI: I haven't read this book and probably never will, though I do think the topic is fascinating.)

Here's how I first find out about Nina Simone. I once called Bradley to shoot the bull. He put Angie on the phone. I asked what they were doing. She said they were preparing dinner and listening to a Nina Simone record. Often when people tell me stuff on the telephone and I'm in my home office (read: my bedroom, which has a desk in it), I'll grab a notecard and jot down something. In case this sounds frightening, I've never done it, I don't think, if someone has divulged some personal information. It's mostly for insights or recommendations. Though not a formal innovation, I wrote Nina Simone on a card and forgot about it.

A few days ago, I was looking through the Rolling Stone's top 500 albums list and ran across Nina Simone's Wild Is the Wind (1966), and I'm listening to it now. Will this be one of my favorite albums? It definitely makes me feel things. Her voice is sad. The overall album is melancholy. I try to imagine returning one evening from that archetypal hard day's work and putting this on. Would I? To be honest, I doubt it. I don't think the album would be much comfort. But must everything great be comfortable? No, but everything held precious to the heart most be appropriate for most every occasion. That doesn't have to be your rule, but it is one of mine. I will probably regret it, but I will cross this album off the list and likely never listen to it again deliberately.

Perhaps another of Simone's albums will appear on one of these lists of so-called great music. If it does, I will listen. And as with every album, I will give it a fair hearing.

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