Thursday, November 1, 2007

Nina Simone

November ’07 – Nearly two weeks ago, I played a show in Brisbane, supporting Pikelet and Darren Hanlon. I felt a bit like the one who had won a competition – “Be a muso for a week! Go on tour with a real band!” After the Brisbane show, the other members of the tour drove on to Tweed Heads, and I was billeted out to the hospitable Sue Ray (or Suray, as I called her until the next morning). Not only did she give me - a complete stranger - a comfy bed (next to her blue-tongue lizard enclosure), a cup of tea, a burn of a Pete Molinari CD, but she even gave me a lift to the airport in the morning. On the way, a Nina Simone tape [note: tape] was playing in Suray’s car…I recognised it as an album I’d had and loved then somehow lost about twelve years ago. When ‘PLAIN GOLD RING’ came on I realised that I had been subconsciously anticipating (for twelve years!) hearing it again – I almost shuddered, and asked Suray to rewind it and play it again. We sang along (two sing-alongers shamelessly outing themselves). Hearing ‘PLAIN GOLD RING’ wasn’t like being reunited with an old friend; it was like coming face-to-face with a truth that I thought I had successfully avoided. As soon as I was home again, I picked it out on the guitar – what I could remember of it - looping Nina’s ominous piano riff and singing over the top of it, disregarding (or relishing) the discordance of any ill-suited notes that clashed together. It is a reminder of a time when a whole life (and usually more than one life) could be ruined when someone married the wrong person - of course, I interpret this song to suit my anti-marriage agenda. But agendas aside, it is one of the darkest songs in existence: “In my heart, it will never be Spring/ Long as he wears that plain gold ring.”