Revolution – Nina Simone (1969)

Remember the Beatles’ reactionary song, ‘Revolution’? I liked them as a group, and still do, but, gee, it was disappointing to be a young revolutionist in the 1960s and  hear them come out with lyrics against revolutionary change. Of course, the Beatles’ song was written from the perspective of the Establishment – lyrics about “minds that hate” and against “Chairman Mao” would not have made much sense to people who were struggling for survival and freedom in the Third World, not to mention in the ghettoes of the US.

Someone who, at that time, stood with the oppressed people was the great African American piano player, composer and singer, Nina Simone.

Poor Nina, she was not consistent later in life and her decline and end was a very sad one indeed. Her version of the Beatles’ song subverts it into an actual revolutionary song.

I’m sure she was addressing the Beatles with the lyrics:

“Some folks are gonna get the notion
I know they’ll say im preachin hate
But if i have to swim the ocean
Well i would just to communicate
Its not as simple as talkin jive
The daily struggle just to stay alive”.

And, hey, greenies, “It’s more than just air pollution”.

She recorded the song in 1969: “We’re in the middle of a revolution, coz I see the face of things to come”.

Enjoy! (And swim that ocean!)

1 Response to “Revolution – Nina Simone (1969)”

  1. 1 Barry

    Another great one by Nina Simone was her song about the desegregation struggle, and struggle for racial equality, in the US, called ‘Mississippi Goddam’. It was inspired by the murder of four girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on 15 September 1963 by members of the Ku Klux Klan. The song was banned in some parts of the ‘Deep South’.

    Lyrics below. Youtube clip here:

    (1963) Nina Simone

    The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
    And I mean every word of it

    Alabama’s gotten me so upset
    Tennessee made me lose my rest
    And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

    Alabama’s gotten me so upset
    Tennessee made me lose my rest
    And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

    Can’t you see it
    Can’t you feel it
    It’s all in the air
    I can’t stand the pressure much longer
    Somebody say a prayer

    Alabama’s gotten me so upset
    Tennessee made me lose my rest
    And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

    This is a show tune
    But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet

    Hound dogs on my trail
    School children sitting in jail
    Black cat cross my path
    I think every day’s gonna be my last

    Lord have mercy on this land of mine
    We all gonna get it in due time
    I don’t belong here
    I don’t belong there
    I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

    Don’t tell me
    I tell you
    Me and my people just about due
    I’ve been there so I know
    They keep on saying “Go slow!”

    But that’s just the trouble
    “do it slow”
    Washing the windows
    “do it slow”
    Picking the cotton
    “do it slow”
    You’re just plain rotten
    “do it slow”
    You’re too damn lazy
    “do it slow”
    The thinking’s crazy
    “do it slow”
    Where am I going
    What am I doing
    I don’t know
    I don’t know

    Just try to do your very best
    Stand up be counted with all the rest
    For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

    I made you thought I was kiddin’ didn’t we

    Picket lines
    School boycotts
    They try to say it’s a communist plot
    All I want is equality
    for my sister my brother my people and me

    Yes you lied to me all these years
    You told me to wash and clean my ears
    And talk real fine just like a lady
    And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

    Oh but this whole country is full of lies
    You’re all gonna die and die like flies
    I don’t trust you any more
    You keep on saying “Go slow!”
    “Go slow!”

    But that’s just the trouble
    “do it slow”
    “do it slow”
    Mass participation
    “do it slow”
    “do it slow”
    Do things gradually
    “do it slow”
    But bring more tragedy
    “do it slow”
    Why don’t you see it
    Why don’t you feel it
    I don’t know
    I don’t know

    You don’t have to live next to me
    Just give me my equality
    Everybody knows about Mississippi
    Everybody knows about Alabama
    Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

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