In Concert (Remastered) Nina Simone
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- 1I Loves You Porgy02:33
- 2Plain Gold Ring06:25
- 3Pirate Jenny06:43
- 4Old Jim Crow02:42
- 5Don't Smoke In Bed05:31
- 6Go Limp07:07
- 7Mississippi Goddam04:54
Info zu In Concert (Remastered)
This is probably the most personal album that Simone issued during her stay on Philips in the mid-'60s. On most of her studio sessions, she worked with orchestration that either enhanced her material tastefully or smothered her, and she tackled an astonishingly wide range of material that, while admirably eclectic, made for uneven listening. Here, the singer and pianist is backed by a spare, jazzy quartet, and some of the songs rank among her most socially conscious declarations of African-American pride: 'Old Jim Crow,' 'Pirate Jenny,' 'Go Limp,' and, especially, 'Mississippi Goddam' were some of the most forthright musical reflections of the Civil Rights movement to be found at the time. In a more traditional vein, she also reprises her hit 'I Loves You, Porgy' and the jazz ballad 'Don't Smoke in Bed.' (Richie Unterberger)
„As her accompanists bustle along in a brisk show-time tempo, Nina Simone begins this song from her 1964 album Nina Simone in Concert by saying “The name of this tune is ‘Mississippi Goddam”. The drummer then drops a vaudeville thump accent on the kickdrum, and Simone pauses for audience reaction, which is laughter and a smattering of applause. Without changing the timbre of her voice, she quickly adds, “And I mean every word of it.” There is more laughter from the audience after that, but it’s more tentative than the first burst, and this time no one applauds. There’s no possible way the audience could have prepared themselves for what follows. “Mississippi Goddam” is a subversive tour-de-force, a highly sophisticated piece of musical signifying which mixes confrontational anger, point-blank accusation, and deeply felt frustration with a bouncy show-tune melody and a wonderfully expressive vocal by Ms. Simone.
I love “We Shall Overcome”, “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “A Change is Gonna Come”, and all the other songs associated with or about the Civil Rights struggle of the American 1960s, but for my money, as powerful and accessible as those songs are, none are as emotionally immediate, or possess more unrelenting spiritual force, than “Mississippi Goddam”. The lyrics are a marvel, unraveling at first in a deceptively lighthearted strut (“Alabama’s got me so upset / Tennessee made me lose my rest”) before turning into the most solemn of lamentations around the middle ( “Lord have mercy on this land of mine / We’re all gonna get it in due time”), and then a full-on, unapologetic demand by the end (“You don’t have to live next to me / Just give me my equality!”
The most striking lyric arrives at around 1:44, just as Simone is starting to dig into the real intent of the song. Here, in a single line, Simone captures the dual existential uncertainty of living in a society which repeatedly pronounces you “other”, while also realizing you don’t really have anywhere else to go: “I don’t belong here / I don’t belong there / I’ve even stopped believing in prayer.” Like the song’s title, these lines are a deeply symbolic statement from a bona fide church girl (Simone’s mother was a minister), both a declaration of painful truth, and a plea for that truth to be heard, understood, addressed. By the time Simone murmurs “Bet you thought I was kidding, didn’t you?” after the refrain following those lines, the Carnegie Hall audience is dead silent.
Given Nina Simone’s undeniable prowess with bluesy tempos and songforms, demonstrated in countless later recordings, one has to wonder why she chose to deliver her most confrontational message in the vehicle of an upbeat songform more suited to a Rodgers and Hammerstein-style musical. The lyrics of “Mississippi Goddam” lyrically give voice to the contemporary concerns of African Americans, but ironically, there is not a lot of obvious church, blues, jazz, or R&B to be heard in the music here. The result is a somewhat dislocated sonic context, a feeling that you’re hearing something that just might be different than what it appears to be on the surface. Whether the African Trickster in Simone intended this or not is always up for discussion, but clearly, “Mississippi Goddam” is not meant to be comforting, uplifting, or reassuring in any sort of way; on the contrary, it is meant to be confrontational, discomforting, prophetic: a call to wakefulness in a dangerous time, and perhaps an apocalyptic warning of sorts, as well.
We celebrate and cherish songs and songwriters often because their words and music bring us joy, comfort, and feelings of empathy and belonging. In this case, we remember and celebrate Nina Simone and “Mississippi Goddam” because in 1964, amidst great turmoil in the country and unbearable race-related murders and violence, Nina Simone had the courage to stand on the stage of one of America’s most hallowed venues and deliver a song that expresses the dismayed yet indefatigable heart of a prophet.“ (PopMatters)
Nina Simone, vocals, piano
Rudy Stevenson, guitar
Lisle Atkinson, upright bass
Bobby Hamilton, drums
Nina Simone (1933-2003) holds a unique place amongst the great jazz performers of all time. What sets her apart from other jazz masters is not only her captivating and sultry voice and skillful command of the piano, but her aptitude in almost every genre of music there is. She has taken soul, jazz, and pop to new levels, as well as proving herself in blues, gospel, Broadway, folk, classical, and opera. She also performed and recorded many of her own compositions.
Born Eunice Waymon in North Carolina, Simone grew up in a family with eight children. She started out as a classical pianist, but in 1954 the financial necessity of her family led her to take a job in an Atlantic City nightclub. After auditioning for the gig, the owner told her that she could have it, but only if she agreed to sing as well. Thus, Nina ("little one") Simone (French actress Simone Signoret), was born.
In the late 1950s, Simone began recording on a small label, Bethlehem Records. In 1959, she had a Top 20 hit. "I Loves You Porgy," a song from George Gershwin’s musical "Porgy and Bess." This was the only song that Simone recorded in her entire career that made the Top 40. Hits were not a big concern, however. Simone did just fine performing in nightclubs and making albums, most of them live recordings. She recorded nine albums in the early 1960s alone.
In the mid-‘60s, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, Simone composed several songs, including "Old Jim Crow" and "Mississippi Goddam" which were issued on her first album with Philips (Nina Simone in Concert). "Mississippi Goddam" was written in response to the death of four black children in a church bombing, in 1963. It was her protest songs that best demonstrated Simone’s amazing ability to communicate, deeply and clearly, human emotion, especially those of Black people in the U.S.A. It was around this time that people began referring to Simone as the "High Priestess of Soul," after she put out an album of the same name. Along with her original songs, Simone chose some diverse covers. Songs like Weill–Brecht’s "Pirate Jenny," "I Put a Spell on You," and "See Line Woman," were among some of the others that Simone transformed into classics. Her experimentation with timing, her use of silence, her low and intense vocals, her impeccable piano playing capabilities, and her inimitable live act, turned every song she sang into a fresh and magnificent Nina Simone creation. In the late 60s and early 70s, Nina was recording for RCA. An original song, "Young, Gifted & Black" was considered somewhat of a Black national anthem of the time. This song, inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s play of the same title, was has since been covered by Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway. During this brief period of time, Simone was remarkably prolific, releasing nine albums. Despite the quantity and quality of her product, Simone was not particularly well served by RCA.
Later in the decade, Simone’s personal life began to see some trouble. She divorced her husband and manager, Andy Stroud, and became disillusioned by the record industry when she found herself in financial trouble after all the effort she had put forth. Disgusted with show business, as well as with racism in the U.S.A., Simone moved to Barbados in 1974. In the years to come she lived in Liberia, Switzerland, Paris, the Netherlands, and the South of France. The frequency of her recordings slowed significantly after she left RCA, but in 1978, Simone released Baltimore, for the label CTI, which contained the definitive version of Judy Collins’s "My Father." Since then Simone has recorded several albums, most recently "A Single Woman," a studio album released in 1993. She has written her autobiography, I Put a Spell on You, received an Honorary Doctorate in Music and Humanities, and has continued to perform at festivals and events around the world.
Despite her self imposed exile and her obvious outspoken lack of appreciation for the recording industry, Nina Simone is a legend of incalculable magnitude. Still today she is able to arouse new and young listeners, as well as hold the attention of life-long devoted fans. Nina Simone has burned her soulful, musical wonders on the psyche of jazz lovers everywhere, and has inspired love and compassion in places seemingly bereft of such trying emotions. Rachel F. Newman (Source: Verve Music Group)
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