I listened to “The Essential Nina Simone’ on repeat when I started pulling all-nighters for high school art pracs. The working conditions were quite unpleasant. I would sleep surrounded by paint fumes and often had to work by candlelight because of the Eskom power cuts. But the upside of those all-nighters was discovering the symbiotic relationship between painting and listening. Because painting doesn’t involve analytic thinking, it allowed me to redirect those cognitive faculties to whatever I was listening to. Listening to things on repeat also gave the music room to ‘breathe’ and age. I hardly ever listen to music now the way I did in high school. My computer was less exciting back then, so when I was bored I would lie for hours on my bed, listening to Erik Satie, or Elliot Smith. But thanks to the current availability of the internet, I can’t do boredom anymore. I think the only way I will ever start listening to music properly again is if I started painting.
While going through this Nina Simone phase, I remember thinking, ‘I wonder who the heck her piano player is?’ I was sure that whoever ‘he’ was, ‘he’ must be classically trained because the piano solos would often involve these complex Baroque contrapuntal harmonies. After high school I finally learned that it was all her.