Nina Simone: What Free Feels Like

Everybody is half-dead. Everybody avoids everybody. All over the place, in most situations, all the time. I know; I'm one of those everybodies.

And to me, it is terrible. And so all I'm trying to do, all the time, is just to open people up, so they can feel themselves and let themselves be open to somebody else. That is all. That's it.


I always thought that I was shaking people up, but now I want to go at it more, and I want to go at it more deliberately, and I want to go at it coldly. I want—I want to shake people up so bad that when they leave a nightclub where I performed, I—I just want them to be to pieces.


I want to go in that den of those elegant people with their old ideas, smugness—and just drive them insane.


When I'm calm and cool and really got the antennae working, you know when to push and you know when to not. Nobody can tell ya, though—you have to feel it. In any situation between human beings. It's what makes a groove.

[edit; male interviewer asks her what freedom means]

What's free to me? Same thing it is to you. You tell me. ["No, you tell me." They both laugh.] Just a feeling. It's just a feeling. It's like how do you tell somebody how it feels to be in love. How are you going to tell anybody who has not been in love how it feels to be in love? You cannot do it to save your life. You can describe things, but you can't tell 'em. But you know it when it happens.

That's what I mean by free. I've had a couple of times onstage when I really felt free. And that's something else! That's really something else! Like all, all, like, like— I'll tell ya what freedom is to me: No fear! I mean, really—no fear. If I could have that half of my fear.

Lots of children have no fear. That's the closest way—that's the only way I can describe it. That's not all of it. But it is something to really...really feel. I— [looks thoughtful; shakes her head and maybe chokes up a little] Wow. Like a new way of seeing. Like a new way of seeing something!
There is an entire post to be written about the connection between what Nina Simone is expressing here and this. But I don't want to write that post. I just want to let Simone's words work on me, and consider in what ways and spaces I have the privilege of feeling free, and in which ways and spaces I don't.

[Via Schmutzie.]

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