Saturday mornings for me are always filled with music and English Football. As I sip a cup of tea (thanks to the big man in London for turning me on to a nice cup of Rosie), I wanted to start out by giving a shout out once again to some folks that have been kind enough to big up Flea Market Funk, and throw some blog love my way: Feel It , It’s Great Shakes, and the one and only Mighty Boognish over at The Full Catastrophe. I’m getting a lot of positive feedback on this blog and it’s really only around 3 weeks old, and I appreciate the hospitality. I wanted to get a post in before tomorrow, as a few of my DJ friends and I are heading out to a record show in Hazlet, NJ. It’s normally put on at the Raritan Center, but changed venues (which is great for me because it’s closer) due to rent increase. In the past this show has drawn many tri-state area’s dealers, from Laylow to Stinkie Steve, and notable producers such as Peanut Butter Wolf and Egon from Stones Throw Records. Speaking of Stones Throw, check out their Now-Again label featured on NPR, with Egon talking about Texas’s own Kashmere Stage Band. Very excellent stuff.
There are many artists I wish I had seen before they passed: Grant Green, Miles Davis, Bob Marley, and my list could go on and on. However, out of all those artists, the one I think about the most is one Eunice Waymon, aka Nina Simone. I got turned on to her by a friend of mine many years ago, and of course went out and bought some Verve best of, thinking I’d get all her “hits”. I started to look for her records after that and got lots of her jazz stuff: “The Amazing Nina Simone”, “I Put A Spell On You”. All that changed though, when I found a record called “Here Comes the Sun” on RCA. This record kind of opened my eyes very wide to the various styles Simone has taken on in her career. While dismissed by critics as a low point in her career (covers of Mr. Bojangles and Here Comes the Sun were marred by what critics called arranging nightmares), the shining moment is the Five Stairsteps “O-O-O-H Child”. It only seems fitting for Simone to cover this, as her own life experiences possibly had her wondering if “Someday, things are gonna get easier.” Simone did not have an easy life by any means, and it showed in the eclectic choice of music she churned out during her career: Haunting, spooky jazz standards, rock covers done her way, folk, blues, funk, and this slice of soul shed in in 1971 I have for you here today.
I will not argue that Simone lead an easy life. Early on, her denial to a prestigious music school because the color of her skin most certainly contributed to the chip on her shoulder she carried with her in everyday life. Her tumultuous life eventually led her on a nomadic existence, moving from country to country, eventually settling in France, where she died in 2003. These times shaped her as an artist, and gave her the opportunity to leave a lasting mark in many music genres. If I had taken the chance to travel and see her (she stopped performing in the States and her career took her to Europe), I believe even if she had accosted me from stage, as she had done to other audience members in the past, I would still have enjoyed the experience. She was the Nina Simone, and god damn it, things were gonna get easier. Keep Diggin’!