'I can’t reach them unless I turn myself inside out': The Writings of Nina Simone

| 8/13/2010 1:01:11 PM

Nina Simone

Nina Simone struggled with her fame, both with wanting more of it and wanting to jump out of the spotlight when it was shined on her. In an alarming piece from the July/August issue of The Believer, Joe Hagan writes of Simone’s struggles in her professional, as well as her personal life.

Somehow Hagan, “after a year of cajoling,” convinced Simone’s ex-husband, Andrew Stroud, to talk about his nine-year marriage with the singer. Quite the feat, given that Stroud wouldn’t even talk to Simone’s biographer.

The striking portion of this access, though, comes not in Stroud’s discussion of his relationship with Simone, but through Simone’s own writing, which Hagan dives into to give a heartbreaking glimpse of the difficulties that at times stormed Simone.

“[W]hat is immediately striking,” Hagan writes,

“is how lucid and candid Nina Simone could be, how easily she would tap her emotions in writing, and how, occasionally, she seemed to take great solace in getting thoughts on paper, often in her most desperate hours…When she’s happy, her writing is in a lovely flowing cursive; when depressed, a sloppy chicken-scratch.  And when her mania has reached a critical mass, she defaults to large printed letters, virtual billboards that scream from the page.”

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8/14/2010 4:04:09 PM

Bi-polar disorder is a curse. In her case it was both a curse and a gift. We got more from the gift than she did. I am so glad I discovered her music before I got to old to enjoy it!

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