I love this lady more than I had ever realized. A few years ago she was reintroduced to the forefront of my thinking by something and I for the life of me can’t remember what that something was. I do however remember going to see her when I was very young in the park in D.C. one summer, Rock Creek Park I think. Me perched on my father’s shoulders and I sea of Afros bouncing like cotton balls from the Planet Mo’ Better Makes It Mo Better. We were a family under one groove and though I really don’t remember much from that day, those Afros I remember and that movement and that feeling and those people. We all came to see our Sista Ms. Nina Simone.
Not a lot of people know this or at least I don’t think that they do. Ms. Simone suffered from mental illness and I might add the most beautiful overbite I have ever seen. She was a gorgeously handsome woman. You’ll forgive my scattered thoughts on her, but there’s so much I would like to say about her I’ll never get a clear thought.
Anyway, yes, she is said to have suffered from bipolar disorder and/or borderline personality disorder. I really don’t know what borderline personality disorder is, but I’m sure I got some. It comes with the all the other baggage of being wrapped in this dark skin of mine that I have come to love over the years. For this post I’ll just speak of the mental illness and let you discover the lady more deeply if you feel moved to.
I firmly believe that some of the most creative and genius people of ours have suffered from some form of outwardly evident mental illness. One would have to, if one ever saw clearly, our reality makes us crazy. I can see where some of her illness was evident in her personality and please, this is my own assessment as I see these same things in myself. She didn’t have much patience for foolishness and once in mid-chord she stopped and chastised talkative audience members. She didn’t mind speaking for her mind off stage either. The song Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood was written for her, but The Animals recorded it (I love both versions) and had hit with it. Ms. Nina confronted the front man and in Nina form said to him; So you the honky that stole my song and got a hit with it? I recognize these acts as something that would come from me.
She however (it is said) had been taken over by schizophrenia. With that came some delusions of being a reincarnation of an Egyptian queen. When a friend took Ms. Nina to a musical revue in Washington, she began speaking to the onstage performers from her seat. Now, let’s sit back and think for a second about these two incidences, don’t they sound really familiar? Black people are always talking about how we are kings and queens and have you been to a movie with a mostly Black audience? So we are all trapped by schizophrenia.
Serious, our Ms. Nina had gone far down the mental illness road and it ended our sisters mind from which that voice came. We have to take look at how mental illness has run roughshod through us and give ourselves a break ever now again. My heart remains broken for how this world has chewed on our very essence like doublemint and spit us out when the flavor was gone. I get murderous at the thought of the incredible people we are and how we are stepped on by us and them. We are in need of healing, we are in need of that sea of Afros bouncing together to the Ms. Nina beat.
Sadly Ms. Nina left us and this hell in 2003 from what was called a stroke, but to me it was exhaustion. This world makes one really tired, really early in life and the results of the fatigue can be seen all over Black faces and Black places.
Here comes the sun and we should heal.
Like I stated earlier, these are “reimagined” and may not appeal to the purest, but I really like them.