Blue Monday: ‘Don’t Explain’, by Nina Simone

I wrote it earlier, but now it’s official: today it is Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, according to the British psychologist Cliff Arnall (whether or not for a publicity campaign for Sky Travel).

Blue Monday is always on the third Monday of the new year. A new workweek begins, the holidays left you broke, no new holidays in sight, it’s dark and most of your good intentions for the new year failed already.

So, why not go all the way and listen to some heartbreaking Nina Simone?

Nina Simone - Let It All Out

The song ‘Don’t Explain' (from Simone's album 'Let It All Out’, 1966) was originally written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr. and it is said, that Billie wrote it after her husband Jimmy Monroe came home one night with lipstick traces on his collar.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on the third Monday that year.

Nina Simone - Vocals/Piano
Rudy Stevenson - Flute
Lisle Atkinson - Bass
Bobby Hamilton - Drums

'Manhattan', by Blossom Dearie

Blossom Dearie (1924-2009) was born in East Durham, New York, and after high school she moved to New York City to pursue a music career and began to sing in groups such as the Woody Herman Orchestra and the Alvino Rey's band before starting her solo career. She moved to Paris in 1952, where she later had a hit with the French version of ‘Lullaby Of Birdland’.

After returning from France, Dearie made her first six American albums as a solo singer and pianist for Verve Records in the late 50’s and early 60’s, mostly in a small trio or quartet setting, like today’s 1958 album, ‘Once Upon A Summertime’.

Blossom Dearie - Once Upon A Summertime

Aah, the voice of Blossom: I guess you love it or you hate it…
What’s most amazing is that while lacking both the drama of other jazz vocalists and the improvisational skills of the bebop singers, she has ‘something’, which is hard to pinpoint. Cuteness? Perhaps some, but then again she also has a way of phrasing, telling stories through the music and holding the listeners’ attention.
As a result, Blossom Dearie’s style proves itself to have a deepness that’s easy to miss with just a quick listen. In time one realizes beyond ‘cuteness’ better words are ‘honesty’ and ‘insight’ to describe her singing. And of course, her piano playing isn’t so bad either.

Blossom Dearie - Vocals/Piano
Mundell Lowe – Guitar
Ray Brown - Bass
Ed Thigpen – Drums