Nina Simone

To Love Somebody

Just a quick post-election post…

I found out about To Love Somebody while I was adding the epigraph to my recent post about David Vandervelde — “To everything there is a season.” I’m embarrassed to say I couldn’t remember who sang the iconic version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” and while I was using Spotify to find out, I stumbled across Nina Simon’s version. A few clicks later, I was excitedly bouncing from track to track on To Love Somebody, trying out all these fascinating, moody covers of late 60’s hits, many of which I wouldn’t immediately associate with Simone’s vocal style.

While I like her takes on “The Times They Are A Changin’” and “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” the one I’ve grown to really love is her version of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Incidentally, it’s the only track on To Love Somebody that I’d heard before (though I can’t remember where or how long ago), and I’m just a few more listens away from declaring it waaaaaaaay better than the original. Maybe even superior to the version from The Last Waltz. Am I worried I’ll be struck by lightning any minute now? Yes, yes I am. But I can’t help it — the minor chord in Simone’s version that accompanies the word “east” in the chorus makes my whole being want to melt, and it’s becoming harder and harder to listen to versions that don’t feature that chord in the same place. The best cover songs add something to the source material — even change the way you listen to it — and this one certainly fits that mold.

So what does “I Shall Be Released” have to do with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney? In itself, not much, I suppose. But I think everyone living in a swing state feels like they’ve been relieved of a big burden this morning, and the more I listen to it, the more it fits today just right. Now if I could only get my hands on a vinyl copy of To Love Somebody…

Nina Simone — “I Shall Be Released” (Bob Dylan cover) [Spotify/iTunes]

One thought on “Nina Simone

  1. Pingback: Meshell Ndegeocello | You hear that?!?

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