Friday Jukebox: Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman”


Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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18 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris says:

    Definitely one of my favorites. I think “Feeling Good” is as good, though.Report

  2. Avatar Michelle says:

    Love, love, love this song. And Nina Simone. Horrifying remix or not, I first heard it on the soundtrack of The Thomas Crown Affair and felt compelled to seek out the artist and buy up some of her CDs. It is as amazing a song as you say it is.Report

  3. Avatar zic says:

    This is another of my favorites from Nina, Four Women.


  4. Avatar Glyph says:

    “-It commands two headphones because the song is so immersive.* There’s so much to enjoy. The thumping bassline? Those little guitar spots? The drummer’s work on the high-hat? The manic piano? The handclaps? ”

    That is a fantastic recording. I was also on a huge Big Star kick the other day, and those records *also* sound so much better than most of today’s. Don’t know how much you’ve read about “the loudness wars”/compression and how they have wrecked so many recordings, but this song is definitely evidence that we used to know how to do it right (we need quiet and space and “air” in our records too).

    When she gets close to the 1 min. mark (“I said, Rock, what’s the matter….”) her phrasing is to me very, very similar to Bob Marley and reggae. I looked at their respective timelines and she would have been pretty popular just as Marley was starting out, so while it could just be a case of them both reaching back to traditional African call-and-response type vocals, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that Bob was trying to sing like Nina; if so, she returned the favor when she later covered “No Woman, No Cry” and “Get Up, Stand Up”.

    And while I am not going to try to defend that particular Felix track (though it’s not bad for what it is IMO), Felix in general can be decent – in particular, Kittenz & Thee Glitz got lumped in with that “electroclash” nonsense, but it is a rare dance LP that works as an actual album for listening, an 80’s electro throwback full of delirious arpeggiators and silly/serious single-finger synth playing. And his parody of The Purple One in “We All Wanna Be Prince” (so true, so true) just cracks me up.

    Does that make me a Pitchfork d-bag? 😉Report

  5. Avatar James K says:

    Sinnerman is indeed an awesome song.Report

  6. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    I’d say a lot of people know of “Sinnerman” through it’s use in Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations”, his most famous piece of choreography, and he is one of the best and best known choreographers and hsi troupe is the best, and the troupe still performs Revelations.

    I like the overdone version on the Alvin Ailey Revelations CD better than the Simone version, but hers is clearly more subtle. There is a poor version (sung live by a man, and the Revelations Cd is sung by a woman and is much better) here.

    If you ever have a chance to see Alvin Ailey, doing Revelations or anything else, do it.Report

  7. Avatar Patton says:

    Sinnerman is the only song I can recall having been featured in more than one movie or TV episode (though I’m sure there are others). Having heard and liked it quite a lot in The Thomas Crown Affair remake, I later heard it in the excellent BBC series Sherlock, and finally just bought the compilation of her songs. Good music, indeed.Report

  8. Thank you so much for posting this. I have neither watched The Thomas Crown Affair, nor have I heard any of the remixes – if they are that bad, it makes me even more glad I pay little attention to modern/pop music. This is very powerful, and I confess that I haven’t listened much to Nina Simone either, but as a result, Pastel Blues is soon to be on my to-buy list!

    Thank you again.Report