Saturday, 16 July 2016

Something Else

"Tell It Like It is," as performed by Nina Simone

Strong, proud, helpless, vulnerable, cool, ecstatic Nina Simone pretty well says all there is to say about romantic love in this song, and it takes her only about four minutes. She's got some help, of course: her elemental and soulful band, and her piano, which forces you to sway yourself into a good mood; but most especially her voice's masterful knowledge of all our connective tissues. (In another life, she would have made a great doctor.) She hums and semi-sings in little waves of pure human sound before she sings the lyric, and hums afterwards (remember -- she's in love), and takes us up there with her as she does.

I'm sort of embarrassed that I took so long (sixty-plus years, more or less) to start listening to this great musician, this great artist of song and feeling. She died quite some time ago, and I barely knew who she was back then. I've since learned she suffered greatly (mental illness, racism, thieves, trouble with men, and more), but my hunch is that when she was happy, she was really happy. She was, and this song is, something else.

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