The First Time I heard Nina Simone
Honey, you were singing a Bob Dylan song,
And it was called “Just like a Woman.”
And I burst into tears.
No one had ever interpreted my pain so well.
I was just 17 years old, listening to free music in
The Tower Record store.
Following one of my dad’s music recommendations.
I adjusted the volume, ALL the way loud,
And hit replay over and over.
Then “Mississippi Goddamn” came on and
You did a total hit and run in 4 minutes,
That song left tire tracks on my belly!
Then it was “work song” that’s a classic,
But you sing so hard like a man sometimes,
That voice…Oh, that tone, is a slap in the face
To every woman I heard before you, Nina.
You are an honor to Bessie Smith and all
The Baddd women! All the Black Women!!
An earthshaking vibrato, you hold notes
And shave them dry.
I love your wide nose, your chocolate skin,
Your travels to Africa, and your braids,
So, so, intricate.
A she-hero and a heroine.
When I hear you sing, I think
I feel stronger.
You are more suited for steel though,
Malleable emotions, solid, and firm foundations.
The lilt and twist of your voice
Tearing down the oaks of my loneliness.
Your voice enthralls me, and when your
Greatest Hits end, I run to spend
My last $20 on the CD.