MUSIC NERD MOMENT OF THE DAY: Nina Simone – Sinnerman

Easily one of the greatest piano players and music activists to walk the face of the earth, Nina Simone career is too vast, too diverse and to successful to even try putting into to words. She’s got a lot of standards, but “Sinnerman” is arguably her best known piece of work, at least to the Hip Hop generation. The reason being, of course, is because it is the song that was sampled by Kanye West on Talib Kweli’s 2002 conscious hit single “Get By”. Many people may not also be aware that the song was reinterpreted by one time member of The Wailers and Reggae legend in his own right, Peter Tosh, on the song “Downpressor Man”. A close listen to the lyrics on each song will prove that fact, and I suspect Tosh’s reinterpretation may have been inspired originally by his early days with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer when they were still a clean cut, struggling ska-inspired band out of Jamaica. But Nina Simone’s epic, nearly 10-minute piece is the stuff of legend too. Dramatic is too puny a word to use to describe the frantic piano chords, the spiritual-inspired soul claps toward the middle of the song, and Nina’s story of failed redemption by the subject seeking validation from a higher power, and receiving absolutely nothing. Special note: I’ve always thought it would be great if Alicia Keys did this song live. Just a thought.

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