Nina Simone Video
Hi All -
Hope this finds you well. It's been a while.
Will try to keep longwinded rambling to a minimum. Promise. But, well, you know...
For starters, let's just say we're noticing a bit of "flow" and progress in some recent songwriting efforts. Where I hazarded to worry that "it's been a long, cold, and lonely winter" (nods to George) - a kind that had me altogether sapped of any significant creativity, much less new material - some recent traction and work suggest otherwise. I think a few of the current songs I'm playing with would work well together as an EP, but the jury's still out on that, & we'll keep you posted when we know more (if you'd like)...
In the meantime: We made a video.
You can watch it here. &/or down below, too.
Song/Video Bio: We did a Winter 2015 "Hope, Alaska" promo here in Anchorage some weeks ago, and in addition to meeting and engaging with a few new listeners, this promotional presented an opportunity to film a video with CA/AK filmmaker, Tom Trainor.
We decided to pitch the song to NPR's "Tiny Desk Concert" contest (deadline tomorrow), hence the occasional cuts to Clover Severin's dollhouse roll top desk at my feet.
The album version of 'Nina Simone' remains one of my personal favorites on the record, & so it feels/felt a little risky to present this alternate version of it. However, as a fan of alt. versions and b-side cuts of some of my favorite-ever tracks, I'm also delighted to have a different version of the song out there for listening/viewing. (See "The Weight," Wilco's "Hummingbird"...Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series Vol. 1 - infinitum...)
I continue to love how atmospheric & "wintry" Evan, James, Kat, Aaron, and the rest of us could make the album version of the tune. When Evan sent me the rough mix in 2013, I was seated in a coffee shop too early in the day, the pitch black winter morning outside the window. The rare occasion that I felt like, overly identified w/ that song's troubled, grieving narrator. Evan's production reached to the song's emotional core in such a way that I could practically hear the December frost coming off the breath, steel, and keys in my headphones. And I still love that.
Taking the song into a bar or live setting, however, is another animal altogether, and so I've also come to love how Aaron, Marty, and Cameron (& also Tom Bargelski, not present for this shoot) have helped shape it into a ghost story told on a long, dark, lonesome highway drive. I like to think of it as a weary "last call" in the saloon, or - as songwriter Bill Mallonee once said - "going out with a whimper."
Tiny Desk might be a long shot - god, the talent there is though the roof(!) - but watching/listening to this version of the song is not. Go check it out - share it, like it, pan it, or whatever else people do on YT now besides rant about politics and insult each other. Most of all: Enjoy. This was a song written specifically for an art exhibit wedding paintings with poetic riffs for titles a few years ago. Songwriters were challenged to write songs around specific paintings and titles in the exhibit & I was invited to take part. From a painting that looked like an Alaskan ghost story set at 5am in mid-November - and one line, "a dream that's not a dream" - 'Nina Simone' was born. I share that only to say, again: Enjoy. I enjoyed the process and opportunity of this song, after all, more than many other endeavors and undertakings. There's perhaps no more fulfilling joy than song work and listening, and it'd be the bee's knees if more Comments fields - YT and everywhere - affectionately testified to that, no?
Be well & stay tuned -
from the friendship fire,
Jonathan J Bower
Musician, writer, father, son, & seeker; sometime-professor, eternal student...