Friday, February 01, 2008

A Gerswin Friday: Nina Simone

The best part of putting together my massive George Gershwin Songbook at Finetune (857 different versions of Gershwin!) was discovering so many wonderful recordings I'd never heard before.

Nina Simone's performances of "I Loves You Porgy" are well known, and I've always loved them, but I happened across another song she did from Porgy and Bess that truly knocked me out: "My Man's Gone Now."

Gershwin's love and respect for African-American music was always evident in his work, but never more so than in the jazz, spirituals, and blues used in Porgy and Bess. While "Summertime" is the best-known tune, I've been delighting in many of the other great songs he wrote for this deeply American opera: "It Ain't Necessarily So," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," "There's a Boat That's Leavin' Soon for New York," "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'," and "A Woman Is a Sometimes Thing."

And especially Nina Simone singing "My Man's Gone Now." A riveting, aching performance.

And if you ignore the bizarre image of the knitting balls, here's her studio recording of "I Loves You Porgy," not as powerful as some of her live performances of the song, but a beautiful Gershwin tune that she really inhabits.

1 comment:

Liam said...

Damn, that woman had soul.

I used to listen to her version of Dylan's "I shall be released" when I was studying for my orals.