Song of the Day #5,003: ‘Backlash Blues’ – Nina Simone

Continuing the countdown of my favorite 2021 movies…

Best Films of 2021
#8 – Summer of Soul

During last year’s Oscar ceremony, Questlove (who was DJ’ing the event) introduced a trailer for his directorial debut, a documentary about a summer concert series in 1969 Harlem. I remember thinking it was nice that he got the opportunity to plug a passion project but that I’d probably never hear about it again.

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Song of the Day #4,064: ‘Baltimore’ – Nina Simone

It took Nina Simone 35 years from her initital eligibility in 1983 to enter the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She made it in the first time she was nominated.

Simone’s long wait has nothing to do with her talent or influence — she is without question one of music’s greatest legends — but rather the Rock Hall’s evolving concept of “rock & roll.” Over time, the Hall has strayed from traditional definitions of the genre to make room for artists of all kinds.

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Song of the Day #3,822: ‘I Put a Spell On You’ – Nina Simone

‘I Put a Spell On You’ was written and originally recorded by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in 1956.

Nine years later, Nina Simone recorded her version and had a minor hit on the R&B charts with it. The song was the lead-off track on an album also titled I Put a Spell On You — an album notable for also including the classic ‘Feeling Good.’

This song inspired John Lennon’s contribution to the Beatles hit ‘Michelle’: “I had been listening to Nina Simone – I think it was ‘I Put A Spell On You’. There was a line in it that went: ‘I love you, I love you.’ That’s what made me think of the middle eight for ‘Michelle’: ‘I love you, I love you, I l-o-ove you.'”

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Song of the Day #3,820: ‘Sinnerman’ – Nina Simone

‘Sinnerman’ is one of Nina Simone’s most famous songs. She turned the traditional Negro spiritual, which she had no doubt heard in her mother’s church as a little girl, into a sprawling 10-minute jazz piano epic.

Simone’s version has been sampled in modern rap songs and used in many TV shows and movies, including both the original 1968 Thomas Crown Affair and the 1999 remake. It’s easy to see why. The pulsating rhythm and raw emotional power of the track are irresistible.

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