Today one of my lads reacted to my Facebook post of Saturday’s blog entry on Nina Simone’s (1933-2003) “Lilac Wine,” from her 1966 album Wild Is the Wind. He commented that yesterday was the late singer’s birthday. I hadn’t noticed the date when looking up information about her.
My blog piece on “Lilac Wind” might have looked like it was heading in the direction of being about the title track from Wild Is the Wind, since I mentioned a fair bit about the album and title track. So today I thought, why not bookend the date with two songs she had sung? Also, I have been thinking about the song a bit, here and there, since then.
American singer-songwriter Johnny Mathis recorded the Tiomkin/Washington, Academy Award-nominated song for the 1957 film Wild Is the Wind. Simone first performed it in 1959, then recorded it in 1966. (The recording appeared in the Revolutionary Road movie trailer (2008, with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio).
I also mentioned in Saturday’s post that David Bowie had created a cover version of “Wild Is the Wind” for 1976’s Station to Station album, and that he had done it to honour Simone’s version. He was an admirer of hers and decided to do the cover after meeting Simone in 1975 in Los Angeles, California. His rendition is modern rock but carefully arranged to convey similar emotions to Simone’s: romantic, emotional and slowly melancholic.
I love this song, and to be honest, I had always thought it to be a Bowie original. It seems like one of those songs that should play during the ending credits of an epic film (I said the same about “Sultans of Swing” early on in this blog). Wikipedia tells me “Wild Is the Wind” was the only cover song Bowie recorded in that phase of his career (though I do know the album Pin Ups, from earlier, 1973, was made entirely of covers). The song is beautifully arranged and played, and I have to think Simone would have appreciated the tribute.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the official music video from the David Bowie YouTube channel. The British film director David Mallet oversaw it as a promotional piece for the compilation album, Changestwobowie (1981).
If you’re thinking the backing band doesn’t look like Bowie’s, you’re correct. The group that mimes (a past passion of his, I remember, from a brother talking about Bowie when first introducing his music to our family in the early 1970s ) the performance is musician and longtime Bowie producer Tony Visconti (double bass, though the sound is from an electric bass); Bowie personal assistant Corinne “Coco” Schwab (guitar); saxophonist Andy Hamilton (though no sax plays on the song); and Mel Gaynor (drummer for Simple Minds). I love how a contemplative and casual looking Bowie saunters in at the start, and then at the end has a slight smile as if satisfaction at accomplishing his goal of a thoughtful homage to Nina Simone.
Full, official lyrics are contained in the notes within the YouTube video posting.