Thursday, June 9, 2011

1967: In the Dark

Nina Simone: In the Dark


So far, our survey of 1967 has focused on male rock and pop singers. I’m using the terms “rock” and “pop” as broadly as possible, and we could stay in that vein and still present an amazing week, because there is plenty of material. Partly, that’s because the music business was very different in those days. Where a major artist now might make an album every three years, in 1967 The Beatles made two classic albums, and that put them behind the pace. Nina Simone made three albums that year, and that was the norm.

In presenting Nina Simone, one might think that I am turning my attention to the year in jazz. That was indeed what I originally had in mind, and Simone is rightly considered one of the greats of jazz. But Simone’s second album of 1967 caught my eye. It’s called Nina Simone Sings the Blues. One of the amazing things about Simone was her ability to sing masterfully in so many different styles, and here she showed herself to be a fine blues singer. To me, In the Dark is much more a blues song than jazz, and Simone approaches it that way. The darkness in this song focuses senses other than sight, particularly hearing and touch. Simone took that idea, and created one of the most sensual pieces of music I have ever heard.

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