I think on thursday I will celebrate the 80th birthday of Nina Simone with playing my favourite songs the whole day long. She died almost ten years ago and that was about the time I started listening to her music for real. I keep discovering unknown songs of her, either on the wonderfull Nina Simone facebook page or somewhere in the dephts of youtube. I’m not even sure why I love her music so much, I don’t have a musical education and untill one of my piano playing ex-girlfriends pointed it out to me, I had not really an idea what a great and original pianoplayer she was. Mixing blues, jazz, folk, pop, gospel with classical music, as Nina said herself;’ best of both worlds, if I feel it, I need to play it’. I quess that is why she touches me so deeply, the honest feelings, the emotions, the passion are all put in her pianoplaying, her singing, her lyrics, her performance. Her political songs are fantastic ,the live version of ‘Mississipi goddam’ makes me still angry and will always motivate my personal fight against rascism, Pirate Jenny makes my skin crawl…especially when she slowly sings: ” And in that quiet of death
I’ll say, “Right now. Right now!”
Then they pile up the bodies .And I’ll say, “That’ll learn ya!”:
Very straightforward I thought. Doing away with this stupid: don’t be so angry, things will change..in time it will be better, have patience. Bullocks. Easy to say when you’re not the one who has to wait and suffer. As Audre Lorde said ‘ the master’s tool will never dismantle the master’s house’. Nina got that message right, supposedly heavily disappointed in the ungoing rascism she moved away from the US. She even lived in Holland for four years, before eventually moving to France, where she died in 2003. She travelled and lived in many more countries, I quess everything can be found in her biography ‘I put a spell on you’ that was published in ’91. (on my to read list still)
In a 1969 interview with Phyl Garland, Nina Simone said:
There’s no other purpose, so far as I’m concerned, for us except to reflect the times, the situations around us and the things we’re able to say through our art, the things that millions of people can’t say. I think that’s the function of an artist and, of course, those of us who are lucky leave a legacy so that when we’re dead, we also live on. That’s people like Billie Holiday and I hope that I will be that lucky, but meanwhile, the function, so far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times, whatever that might be.
She was so right! As long as we play her music, she will live on forever…