September 21, 2008

Dancing Nina

I promised Nina Simone's version of Mr Bojangles here a couple of weeks ago- listen this is beauty in words- she had the most amazing voice of almost any singer I have ever heard and I think this is her song as much as it is Jerry Jeff Walker's who wrote it or Sammy Davis Jr. who popularised it. The pity that she puts into her rendition, the sadness in her voice, the nostalgia- is the kind of thing that only the spoken word can capture. This is beauty captured for all time in a recording. The last movement- Mr Bojangles dance- captures the reason that I love this song as much as any other song I have ever heard. It captures that moment, the moment of performance, the moment of loss. Mr Bojangles really existed- he was a man that Jerry Jeff Walker saw dance in a cell- he wrote this song in his memory- but it exists as a testament to art and things of beauty wherever they live. A thing of beauty is a joy forever, said Keats- the lying poet, thanks to these words and Simone's beautiful delivery of them we get a sense of what we've lost.