Nina Simone was a bold and original artist. She drew on jazz, gospel and popular music influences, developing a distinctive style and singing voice. Beginning in the late 1950s, Simone released a series of successful albums, but stayed indifferent to the music industry. Her songs were often political, addressing civil rights and feminist issues.
Xiu Xiu founder Jamie Stewart pays tribute to Simone with the just released album, Nina, which includes 11 Simone covers. The artsy, avant garde record was recorded with some of New York City’s best free jazz musicians, including Tim Berne and Mary Halvorson.
“You’d Be So Nice” is actually a cover of a cover. Simone released “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” a Cole Porter song, on the Nina Simone at Newport album in 1960. Xiu Xiu’s version is as distinctive now as hers was then. Saxophone and drums kick off the song with little reference to the melody. A bass line and a second sax enter, contributing to a controlled frenzy. Quavering vocals enter for a verse after almost three minutes.
The minimalist video for the track features a well-dressed Jamie Stewart in front of of a colorful backdrop of coral. Somewhere, Cole Porter is watching and listening with a puzzled grin.