Since the bomb that was her 2016 album Hopelessness, ANOHNI has been releasing bits and pieces as EPs and singles. While there’s no news on a follow-up LP, she has today treated us to a couple of covers of classics: Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” and Nina Simone’s “Be My Husband”.
She tells the stories behind these covers, firstly “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”:
“I recorded It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue with Kevin Barker one afternoon a few years ago. I listened to it recently and it reminded me of Now, a nausea of nostalgia for the suffering of the present, or even the future. I did a couple of songs by Bob Dylan at that time, encouraged by Hal Willner, the producer who we lost to Covid 19 in April. I hope that this period, and this repugnant presidency, will be over soon, and that these bigots and apocalyptic capitalists and evangelicals will crawl back into their rotten little holes. But how can this happen unless the American media and social media are forced to tell the truth? I am glad to see the mobilization of Black Lives Matter and the re-emergence of the Occupy movement. When Biden said “Americans don’t want revolution, they want a return to decency,” he was wrong. We all know deep down that the continuation of our civilizations for much longer will require seismic change.”
And on “Be My Husband”:
“I saw Nina Simone perform at Carnegie Hall in 1991 while I was still in college. The concert was not properly publicized, and the theater was only half full. I think it may have been her first time back in NYC in many years. She was rumored to be volatile and unpredictable. That night she sang and played with such dignity, so incredibly, and she did 5 or 6 encores. For me, she was the greatest musician of the 20th Century. She didn’t write many songs, but the ones she wrote were among the most profound of the era. Be My Husband was one such song. The lyrics spin a paradox of romantic assertion and submission. This live version of the song was recorded at an Antony and the Johnsons concert at the Knitting Factory in NYC in 1999.”
As expected, Anohni’s version of “It’s All Over Now…” respects the original but addd her own modern impressions. While the Nina Simone cover is over 20 years old, performance is an early display of her extraordinary voice, while the song itself is timeless.