Nina Si­mone (1969)

Q (UK) - - 50 Greatest Revolutionary Songs -

The Bea­tles broke rad­i­cals’ hearts in the sum­mer of ’68 when the promis­ingly ti­tled Rev­o­lu­tion turned out to be a wodge of sanc­ti­mo­nious bet-hedg­ing that John Len­non had dreamed up in In­dia with the Ma­har­ishi. The mu­sic sounded great though, and Nina Si­mone shot back with a ver­sion that took apart Len­non’s lyric piece by piece. Where Len­non scolded talk of de­struc­tion, Si­mone promised “de­struc­tion of all the evil that will have to end”; while he dis­missed rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies as “minds that hate,” she de­clared, “I know they’ll say I’m preach­ing hate.” Work­ing with jazz mu­si­cian Wel­don Irvine, Si­mone gave the song a rau­cous, de­fi­ant swing, with a joy­ous calland-re­sponse coda and ex­plo­sive fi­nale. Len­non, by now on his way to be­com­ing a Nixon­both­er­ing rad­i­cal him­self, gamely de­creed it “very good”.

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