Friday, January 05, 2007


I was eleven years old in the damp of an SF winter looking forward to a sale at a downtown record store, ten 45’s for a dollar. As the weekend neared I came down with a cold or flu or something and a huge storm arrived from the Aleutians. It looked like I would miss the sale and I was way bummed.

So I prevailed on my older brother to go in my stead and pick out the ten best singles available. I guess he didn’t have anything better to do. And I parted with my dollar.

Of the ten records he bought only four were by artists whose names I recognized and they weren’t bad. Of the other’s the song that caught my ear was a very straightforward version of Nina Simone singing Little Girl Blue.

At that age I had no idea of Miss Simone’s place in the firmament. I was fascinated with the admixture of Good King Wenceslas. I played it over and over.

The next time I thought about her was 1977, I was age thirty going on a vacation to NYC. It would coincide with the jazz festival which, the big buzz was, would feature Nina Simone’s first US performance in exty-scratch years.

She’d been, I gathered, self-exiled in France.

Then, the news, she’d actually arrived in New York, but it made her too nervous. So she returned to Paris.

The word “diva” has been cheapened lately. Miss Simone (“official” fan site) was the real deal.

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1 comment:

The Blue Elephant said...

A shared moment, or experience? It suited a poor gay soldier's mood, while sitting in a Fort Ord rec center, looking out at the booming, foggy Pacific, to listen to Nina Simone sing Little Girl Blue. - Jim E.