Nina Simone (1969)
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”.