Feb 20, 2015

Nina Simone

I'm not The Loving Spoonful but I'll ask if you believe in magic. If not, do you believe in second chances? Where records on vinyl is concerned, they appear in the form of reissues. In the case of first pressings, they are cases of good luck incarnate on the day you find said record.

Last year, DJ Kobal was instrumental in placing an album on my want-list long before I would realize it.

While browsing among records, I came across a Nina Simone album called To Love Somebody. All of the winning conditions for me to have bought the record were there. Nina Simone singing Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Leonard Cohen and most importantly for me Bee Gees covers on what was sure to be the funky era of late 60s RCA Records. I didn't go there looking for Nina Simone, that Nina Simone album or to spend the money on the price tag for the album. On top of that, I hadn't heard one song! Kobal coyly suggested I should take it and I had an instinct he was right but maintained my blissful ignorance or, depending on who you ask, stubbornness.

Some man that was near smoothly slid towards us and asked if I would take it. I relinquished the record, he gratefully accepted it and stepped off to the counter. I remember Kobal's last words regarding the album being something like hard-to-find. That was the last time either of us spoke of the album.

We live in advanced, amazing times. I stated earlier that I hadn't heard one song from the album but not too long after that day, had the album to listen to. By the time I heard Suzanne, the album opener and Cohen cover, my ignorance was no longer blissful but blistering. The Bee Gees covers, I Can't See Nobody especially, drove the point home.

Naturally the hunt for the album began and I did everything from willing the album to be at the next store I walked into to talking about the album in the hopes it would speed up the process of me finding it again sooner than later.

Fast-forward to CMJ 2011 where I found a reissue of the album in a Manhattan record store. The reissue was more expansive than the first pressing Kobal nearly coaxed me to buy. I dediced to wait until the end of my trip to determine what I would do about it.

Days passed and many records were bought while I was in New York. The last days approached and I did a final sweep of the same stores just to make sure I wasn't going to leave behind any record of value.

While browsing in another Manhattan record store, a young lady walked in and asked the man behind the counter if they had any Nina Simone. If I ever needed a reminder about Nina Simone on the eve of my leaving New York, that was it. I discreetly followed them to the jazz section and discreetly viewed the female's fingers flip the Nina Simone vinyl records.

I saw what I needed to see and prayed the young lady did not enter the store for that album. My prayers were answered when she hoisted the album cover below from the racks and cleared the way for me to reunite with my record. Ironically and slightly painfully enough, the original pressing in my hands was now more expensive than the Kobal coerced copy and the reissue I saw at another Manhattan store prior.

I'm not familiar with the young lady's Nina Simone album of choice either but might have to address that sometime soon.

Prior to Kobal, To Love Somebody and CMJ 2011, the Verve collection below was my fill of Nina Simone's music. I was aware the RCA albums of the late 60s & early 70s had heat on them but was not prepared to spring for any of them. I've been somewhat forced to reconsider that stance now.

In retrospect, if I had dropped the needle on To Love Somebody right after Kobal showed me the record, I would have bought it and that man's search for the album would have continued that day. However, it would have not made as nearly an interesting blog post.

R.I.P. Nina Simone

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