'Here Comes the Sun'

February 7, 2018

Hey, I'm Savannah. I collect records, and they collect dust. Like my preferred media form, I strive to not become obsolete. I created Off the Record as a way to turn my mind inside out, into something visual and tangible. One is the loneliest number, so I asked my friends to join. 

Photos by Jennie McKeon

Video by Quinton Williams

 

Nina Simone’s rendition of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” is lovely on so many levels.

But, what song isn’t in Simone’s deep, soothing vocals?

I’m happy to feature Simone in my column for the second week of Black History Month, because she was influential to so many other incredible musicians and her listeners. She’s one of my favorite black female vocalists, along with others such as Gladys Knight, Roberta Flack, Billie Holiday, Sharon Jones, Beyonce and Aretha Franklin.

“Here Comes the Sun” is an eight-track album released in 1971 that features cover versions of songs by various artists. In my humble opinion, many are equally as amazing as the originals, if not better.

All the covers are arranged differently than the originals, giving this album a fresh sound with a touch of nostalgia. It’s an ideal compilation, because each song has a clear, optimistic message, which I can only assume was intentional based on the album’s title.

I should mention, however, that these are not my favorite songs sung by Simone. Among those are “My Baby Just Cares for Me” and “I Put a Spell on You.”

“Here Comes the Sun,” released on The Beatles’ 1969 album “Abbey Road,” is my favorite cover. It starts with only Simone’s vocals and piano and continues with a full orchestra, but keeps it minimalistic.

Simplicity is the key to this song’s allure.

 

Here comes the sun little darlin’

Here comes the sun

I say, “It’s all right, it’s all right”

— “Here Comes the Sun”

 

Simone gives Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman” an entirely new vibe with a slowed down melody, deeper, soulful vocals and emphasis on the piano.

In the final verse, Simone makes it her own (as if it weren’t already), changing the lyrics from third person to first person. This shift in perspective is a powerful moment.

Many artists have covered “Just Like a Woman,” including some of my favorite vocalists Stevie Nicks and Roberta Flack, who released hers just a year earlier. Admittedly, this version is my favorite.

Other covers on the record are Stan Vincent’s “O-o-h Child,” Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles,” Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “New World Coming,” Chip Taylor’s “Angel of the Morning,” Weldon Irvine’s “How Long Must I Wander” and “My Way,” a song Frank Sinatra popularized.

 

Yeah, regrets, I’ve had a few

But then again, who feel to me uncertain.

I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption

— “My Way”

 

The outfit:

Nina Simone is fire. Her soulful vocals and powerful influence over the music industry were the inspiration behind this photo shoot.

I wanted to channel Simone's heyday during the 1960s and first part of the 1970s. The photos were taken with my vintage record player, which, yes, also features a radio and an eight-track player.

I wear a mustard color, polka dot dress from Urban Outfitters with gold, heart-shaped earrings and chunky G by Guess heels. My boyfriend wears a dog-print button-down shirt from Target.

 

 

Hey, I'm Savannah. I collect records, and they collect dust. Like my preferred media form, I strive to not become obsolete. I created Off the Record as a way to turn my mind inside out, into something visual and tangible. One is the loneliest number, so I asked my friends to join. 

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