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Nina Simone On Intent And The Many Lifetimes Of Impact

I first become aware of jazz singer Nina Simone when I watched the film Before Sunrise, with a young Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. They meet by chance on a train in Europe and spend the day together walking the streets of Vienna and carrying on an endless lively conversation before he has to catch a plane home to the U.S.. In the final scene, they are at her apartment waiting until it time for him to leave. He puts on a recording of Nina Simone. She entertains him by describing what the sultry singer is like at live concerts, imitating her sexy talk and sexy walk. We watch him watching her, becoming more and more certain, he’s not going to make that plane.

Since then I’ve become a fan of Simone as well, her voice having, as one music critic puts it, a “magnificent intensity” that “turns everything—even the most simple, mundane phrase or lyric—into a radiant, poetic message”.

Three favorites are below, as well as the film clip of that final scene I was telling you about. If you are a romantic, like me, it’s worth watching.

Otherwise, skip to Simone, and have a sultry Sunday.