“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” – Nina Simone


Most people know this by the terrific pop cover the Animals did in 1965. However, this was originally composed for jazz vocalist Nina Simone by Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell and Sol Marcus and Simone’s version … which is slower, bluesier, and more tortured-sounding … is a marvel to behold if you’ve never heard it before. The accompanying video that someone made on YouTube showing pivotal scenes of the American Civil Rights struggle during the 1950s and 1960s is particularly powerful in the context of the lyrics.


“Dirt” – Neneh Cherry and the Thing


Here’s Neneh’s wonderfully sleazy, avant-garde, and punk-jazz cover of Iggy and the Stooges’ nihilistic S&M masterpiece. This sounds like an outtake from Sly and the Family Stone’s “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” … only with Iggy’s passion, anger, and brain full of God-knows-what. Neneh has evolved into a cross between Nina Simone and Diamanda Galas. This is some seriously deep and scary s–t. If that’s not a cool f–kin’ concept, I don’t know what is!

“I Put a Spell on You” – Nina Simone


It’s time to pour yourself a double (or triple) of whatever poison you prefer and listen to Ms. Simone. The only thing missing from this splendid cover of the original Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ meisterwork is the sound of ice clinking in your glass. There’s anger, bitterness, guilt, and extremely high sexual tension in the air. In other words, much more than a mortal man or woman can handle in under two minutes and 40 seconds. Your therapist, life coach, priest, rabbi, or Scientology auditor can wait until morning …