Eunice Kathleen Waymon aka. Nina Simone was the sixth of eight children, she grew up in poverty in Tryon, North Carolina. Her family wished for her was that she should be the world’s finest classical pianist. She did not get into the schools she wanted and always blamed racism.
Born the sixth child of a preacher’s family in North Carolina, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist. Her musical path changed direction after she was denied a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite a well-received audition. Simone was later told by someone working at Curtis that she was rejected because she was black. When she began playing in a small club in Philadelphia to fund her continuing musical education and become a classical pianist she was required to sing as well. She was approached for a recording by Bethlehem Records, and her rendering of “I Loves You, Porgy” was a hit in the United States in 1958. Over the length of her career Simone recorded more than 40 albums, mostly between 1958—when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue—and 1974.
Simone has dug deep into the american song tradition and it comes as no surprise that she has done several of Bob Dylan’s songs. She is an incredible interpreter of Dylan.
The first song is a contender for best Bob Dylan cover ever done (yes, I am aware of Hendrix’ Watchtower).
The Ballad of Hollis Brown(live,Mickery Theatre, The Netherlands in 1965, see coments…):
It is strange how well Dylan’s songs sound in these interpretations by African/American women. They are so different from the originals, yet they seem to convey the songs meaning in an even more direct way than Bob Dylan’s own versions. They might not be better, but they’re excitingly done and very good in a different kind of way.
The rats have got your flour Bad blood it got your mare If there’s anyone that knows Is there anyone that cares?
– Bob Dylan (Ballad of Hollis Brown)
The Best Dylan Covers: Nina Simone – Ballad of Hollis Brown
Ballad of Hollis Brown is a song written by Bob Dylan, released in 1964 on his third album The Times They Are A-Changin’. The song tells the story of a South Dakota farmer, who overwhelmed by the desperation of poverty, kills his wife, children and then himself.
Lyrically, this song consists of 11 verses which bring the listener to a bleak and destitute South Dakota farm, where a poor farmer (Hollis Brown), his wife and five children, already living in abject poverty, are subjected to even more hardships. In despair, the man kills his wife and children and himself with a shotgun.
“Just Like a Woman” is a song written by Bob Dylan and first released on his 1966 album, Blonde on Blonde. It was also released as a single in the U.S. during August 1966 and peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100. Dylan’s recording of “Just Like a Woman” was not issued as a single in the United Kingdom but the British group, Manfred Mann, did release a hit single version of the song in July 1966, which peaked at #10 on the UK Singles Chart. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Dylan’s version of the song at #232 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Today we are listening to some fantastic women doing their takes on this Dylan song.
Ellen Radka Toneff (25 June 1952 – 21 October 1982) was a Norwegian jazz singer, daughter of the Bulgarian folk singer, pilot and radio technician Toni Toneff, she was born in Oslo and grew up in Lambertseter and Kolbotn. She is still considered one of Norway’s most outstanding jazz singers. Her life flame burned short and intense, she left the world by her own hand at a young age, and was found dead in the woods of Bygdøy, with an overdose of sleeping pills in her blood, the autumn of 1982