I’m convinced: whatever Nina Simone touched turned to gold and melted to butter. The thickness and weight of her voice alongside her raw lyrics and musicality is unmatched. A classically trained pianist, a storyteller, and an eccentric social/cultural/political icon of the civil rights and black power movement (one of her first—and one of my favorite–political anthems: Mississippi Goddam), Simone is one of the most dynamic musicians of the 21st century.
I have to admit: there are times when Nina Simone leaves me feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes there’s too much piano, too much richness, bitterness or, I don’t know, just too much. But ‘The Other Woman’ feels perfect every time.
(By no means does this song represent the breadth of Simone’s politically charged or feminist-centric tunes. If you’re looking for her take on race, gender, (in)equality, independence, etc. etc. see: Four Women or her cover of Sinatra’s My Way.)
‘The Other Woman’ is slow and careful and seeped in delicate loneliness (I just want to wear a long silky dress and smoke cigarettes when I hear this song). The steadfast and strong image of womanhood presented in Simone’s own behavior and her other works feels absent in these verses. What’s left is a short, simple melody about a perfectly curled, manicured woman left lonely and waiting.
The lonesome queen.
And while this may not be the most empowering of positions, it taps into a feeling that I think is fully human.
This post is brought to you by Ellen, who would like some French perfume, but would not like to be the other woman.