I forgot to post this, but I bought Nina Simone’s ‘Protest Anthology’ album from iTunes just the other day. The album is an incredible collection of bootleg and rare recordings such as Mississippi Goddamn, Four Women, Strange Fruit, and Backlash Blues with short audio interviews preceding each song. It comes with an eight minute video of live performances of Revolution and Strange Fruit as well as a video interview with Simone about her ideas of art, artists, and how they interact with social change. Some of the sound quality is pretty bad; the recording of ‘Why The King Of Love Is Dead’ is inaudible at some places and sounds as though someone placed a microphone by a wind tunnel, but its included in this anthology for the simple reason that its overwhelmingly powerful and vulnerable.
Nina Simone has been an incredible influence on both my musical tastes and personal identity. The deep colors of voice, and the humble voyeuristic emotions about her musical activism resonate so much throughout my adolescence. Her version of ‘Feelin Good’ was with me when I was coming out, and today it still makes me skin electric just to hear her build up that particular joy of emergence thats so reflective of her life.
I’m so happy this LP was released. It provides an intimate listen and discussion with a woman who infused her artistic abilities with the rage and grace of the timely politics going on around her. The many frustrations and inequalities within the world only moved her to make something beautiful from it. That is her voice; distinct, crass and always with a smoky elegance.
I caught this as I was searching through versions of the song to possibly use in the April Drag Show and my shit immediately! On a [more redacted] note, I attempted to purchase the Dana Fuchs adaptation of this song (from 2007’s ‘Across the Universe’) from Amazon Mp3 and couldn’t find it. Guess what? iTunes had it…
Reuters reports today that iTunes surpassed Target and Best Buy to officially become Number Two in US music sales, second only to Wal-Mart. What does it reflect about American consumerism when the most often-sought sellers of music notoriously censor both the content and playability of that music? Apple remains steadfastly married to its low-fidelity downloads crippled by digital regulations, forcing the buyer to play songs only on Apple products and blurring the line between what is means to ‘purchase’ a product versus ‘renting’ it (the latter more accurately reflects iTunes in my opinion). In addition, Wal-Mart continuously panders to social lobbyists, forcing artists and labels to alter the content of an album in order to meet its moral standards or risk having it removed from the shelves completely.
Never thought I’d say this about a box-box retailer, but thank you Amazon.com. As an avid music acquirer, if I cannot locate a song I want through other nefarious sources (Russian pay-per sites, or P2P networks), I have no qualms purchasing the song through Amazon’s incredibly easy (and totally high-fidelity; sometimes nearly CD-quality) MP3 store. It’s less expensive than iTunes, free of digital restrictions, allows nearly all of its songs available a-la-carte, and hosts the largest library of songs (over 3 million) available anywhere on planet Earth. I’m sold, are you?