Last night I was feeling pretty blue. In the words of Miss Sophia, "I was feeling mighty bad". I'm ok now though. After a long day or running around (and hearing a beautiful recital given by some of my colleagues) I came home to simmer down with some light vocal jazz, as well as that other thing that helps me wind down. I always make an effort to find music I've never heard by black artists, but that effort is multiplied in February. One of my favorite musicians is Nina Simone, so I went through her discography to find something nice.
Let me start by saying that Nina Simone is the embodiment of the life I would like to live. Despite her being denied a scholarship at Curtis due to her race, she found a way to make a musical footprint that no one has yet to match. Her piano technique was top tier, and the music she sang was so relevant to the time she lived, as well as ours. She was also unapologetically black - something more of us need to get into.
Anyway, YouTube eventually led me to a live performance of her's, in which she sang the song "Feelings". The performance started very soft and slow, with lyrics that connect with anyone going through anything. Nina also told the audience that they would have to help her sing the song. Involving your audience is very important! She interrupts herself again near the beginning of the song to say that "[It's] a shame to have to write a song like that". She goes on to say that, she does not "believe the conditions that produced a situation that demanded a song like that". The recital I went to earlier yesterday evening was filled with chamber music by Brahms. We all know how Brahms sounds (and I need to do more research on him), but some of the music I heard sounded like it had a touch of pain in it. The world is forever thankful for Brahms' contributions to classical music, but what a shame for a man to have to feel sad to give us something so beautiful.
When I woke up this morning the first thing I wanted to do was listen to the song again (of sober mind). After reading the lyrics carefully I saw that this song is basically about love. When you feel some type of way, it's because love has made you feel that way. When I'm homesick, it's because I love Memphis and the people in it. When I'm frustrated with my bassoon playing, it's because I love music and am invested in sounding good for other people. I could go on, but I think it's so important to recognize that. People often disappoint and let you down, but you only feel disappointed because you care about that person to some varying extent.
A long time ago I wrote a post about grapes in a particular region of Italy where the ground is very dry and it's hard for the fruit to reach maturity. The grapes that do manage to make it end up making the best wine you could ever drink. A person is in control of what he does, but not always how he feels. It's such a shame that songs like "Feelings" have to exist, because it means someone is feeling down. It's a blessing, though, that we can take those feelings and create something beautiful.
Creating is therapeutic. We should create more.
"Mississippi Goddam" is also a really great song. You should take a listen!!