Nina Simone, Feelings @ Montreux Jazz Festival, 1976
I love that she explains the mechanical trope that will shape her performance of the song before she sets out. The aim, I suppose, is a communal reconnection with ‘feelings’ as she calls out ‘let’s hit the climax’ to help “a robot get herself together’ and remember her ‘forgotten’ ‘feelings of love’.
“You will help me, huh?’
But the audience can’t really.
“Goddamn. I mean, what a shame to have to write a song like that. Hunh. I’m not making fun of the man. I do not. believe. the conditions. that produced. a situation. that demanded a song like that”
The final proclamation ricochets between her mouth and hands in furious defiance that makes me incredulous at its bigness after all the fear and isolation that’s preceded it. She’s not begging ‘feed me, feed me’, but barking punitively and sardonically ‘and the bass’: arranging and composing in her skin and actually expecting that someone should be able to follow her. I think this is what redemption sounds like: harrowing, obscene, hilarious, unexpected.