By no stretch of the imagination am I an expert on Nina Simone, but indulge me and let me present to you my three favorite Nina Simone songs. I mean, hasn't that pressing question crossed your mind before, while you were, say, driving your car or doing your laundry—"what are Prince's favorite Nina Simone songs?" Well, I'm glad you asked.
"Love Me or Leave Me" (1958). I first heard this song on the soundtrack of the fun and funny Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss, which features a pre-Will & Grace Sean Hayes in hot pursuit of gay unrequited love. Here's Ms. Simone performing the bouncy song live and in glorious black and white. (I'm not sure what TV show this is from or what year it is, but the studio version is from her 1958 debut album, Little Girl Blue.) Damn, watch her tickle those ivories! It's riveting! Watch:
"I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" (1967). I stumbled upon this track on a greatest hits collection, and I wanted to listen to it over and over again until I got tired of it. It hasn't happened yet. Here's Ms. Simone live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 1976. This soul-stirring performance is such a thing of beauty that it makes me tear up a little. Wow. Just: wow. Watch:
"Save Me" (1969). I loaded this funky song as one of the pre-show tracks for the world premiere production of The Fabulous Adventures of Captain Queer. Here's an audio recording: