Friday, July 15, 2011


Every once in a while you read a quote from a famous musician that isn’t garbage drug speak. I like these moments and I like feeling the people who I follow sometimes obsessively actually are articulate and meaningful. While Phish is obviously known for their stupid lyrics (except for backwards down the number line) Trey did say something in an interview with Guitarworld (yea I know…) that I will never forget. He described driving a long distance and suddenly having a song come on which instantly awakens him to his surroundings, as if all of a sudden the clouds evaporate and more is observed while still concentrating on another thought entirely. This is a strange neurological phenomenon not worth understanding, but I have felt my brain, when stimulated by one thing, seems to brighten/enhance/focus perception in general. I listen to a ton of music when I drive, but I had never felt this feeling. Sure when I was sleepy and I put on Appetite for Destruction it woke me up but not in this elusive fasion Big Red was insinuating.

I felt this for the first time on a solo drive to Long Beach in NZ when I put on a Nina Simone CD. I was listening to her a lot at this time, and I was going to Long Beach a lot also. The drive was nice, but I was much more interested in getting there. Plus it was often really foggy. In the article Trey describes the feeling as the watered down cheesy version of clouds parting and the scenery opening up, but I don’t think this is a fair description. What happens is all senses sharpen and adrenaline pumps in a weird fightorflight feeling with no reasonable action as music clearly postdates cave/baroque people. That doesn’t mean the outside world changes, and maybe he was using it as a metaphor that the clouds in front of his eyes clear up, or some hippyshit like that, but what I’m talking about is pure revision of scenario. The sheep around me became animals, not just common sights. The trees became masses of branches and roots and leaves. The sky became a grey that made me think about how depressing it was, not just grey like the inside of a bathroom door that was there to be ignored and forgotten. The weather down there did things to me that I think are permanent. I grew to love the doldrums and dismal rain of Dunedin in a way I can’t explain, but in this lonely instant in my Bessie, I could have explained it. That was a long time ago, but it happened again driving home from Portland last summer – right before I got rear ended (no permanent damage and the girl was super apologetic so I let it go). But I put the song back on afterwards and the ashy sky over Casco bay reminded me of Nzed and the lonely dragon chase of getting back to that feeling of utter acceptance and joy in bleak weather held together by Nina singing the Duke. I hope you like the playlist and maybe sometime it will make you feel something more than music often does.

Ain’t Got No, I Got Life
This tune is a bit of a ramble, but what it lacks in structure it makes up for in optimism and sheer enjoyment. It’s admittedly one of her most poppy songs, resorting to a funky back and forth as the song builds.
Do Nothin’ Til You Hear From Me
The first on this playlist from Nina sings Ellington. An amazing songwriter who probably still didn’t know his tunes could sound so vibrant and dynamic. Particularly when it swings into the bridge (“true I’ve been seen…”) her note choices that deviate from the original score are visionary. I can’t help but try to sing along – by myself thanks – to that one time she does the glissando “so kiss me closeeeee”.
I Got It Bad
Simply perfect. I’ve cried to this. Her backing vocalists get an awesome cameo in the last seconds especially the bass. I bet that dude is huge.
My Baby Just Cares For Me
A jazzy shuffle, skips around and delights in its own simplicity while still showcasing her awesome piano playing.
I Put A Spell On You
Imagine Dave Chappelle in a wig singing this, you will not be disappointed. Plus, this song was in its original form an ironic creepy love song whereas Nina puts her typical sexy stamp on it, changing it into an all out bayou voodoo curse of scandalous devotion. Also see “Do I Move You”.
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
Potentially the most uplifting song I’ve ever heard. I played it for my semireligious roommate in Dunedin and I think he soared with her. Many people play this song, but it was written for her.
I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl
This is Nina at her cutest. She ain’t foolin. A great song for the morning.
Do I Move You
This is the smokiest bar I’ve ever been in. Weirdly enough this song always reminds me of scenes in The Color Purple where Shug tears the house down in the local juke joints and even the girls can’t keep their hands off her.
African Mailman
This woman has chops.
I Think It’s Going To Rain Today
I remember when a girl told me one time that she loved listening to sad music when she was sad. I never understood that, but maybe I just hadn’t found the right sad music. Now it’s either 3am Rob Thomas style (guilty pleasure spoiler alert) or this. Get out the Tim Tams and tissues and kick back, they're in a long rainy winter in Dunedin I can tell you that much.

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