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Nina Simone — Baltimore
Album: Baltimore
Avg rating:
7.3

Your rating:
Total ratings: 658









Released: 1978
Length: 4:29
Plays (last 30 days): 0
Beat-up little seagull
On a marble stair
Tryin' to find the ocean
Lookin' everywhere

Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain't nowhere to run to
There ain't nothin' here for free

Hooker on the corner
Waiting for a train
Drunk lying on the sidewalk
Sleeping in the rain

And the people hide their faces
And they hide their eyes
'Cause the city's dyin'
And they don't know why

Oh, Baltimore
Ain't it hard just to live?
Oh, Baltimore
Ain't it hard just to live?
Just to live

Get my sister Sandy
And my little brother Ray
Buy a big old wagon
To haul us all away

Live out in the country
Where the mountain's high
Never gonna come back here
Till the day I die

Oh, Baltimore
Ain't it hard just to live?
Oh, Baltimore
Ain't it hard just to live?
Just to live
Comments (95)add comment
 VH1 wrote:
I once saw her in an interview where she said "I am THE greatest singer who ever lived and the people who fail to regocnize this are not worthy to be alive".

Made me go off her completely! Such arrogance I cant stand! She is not bad, but there are better ones, too much to mention in fact! {#Iamwithstupid}
 

There's an excellent documentary about her. Have a look at it, you may understand a bit of the context of that declaration....
oh wow, never heard this song before. it has some serious bass and bongo vibes in the back. great song
 bitbanger wrote:
The fading of Baltimore is very sad. Once a great industrial and port city. Hopefully they will not end up in the same mess that Detroit finds itself in.

Questions is why did these union dominated and relatively socialist cities end up in the hopper? What went wrong?
 
That is easy - what you are seeing is the result of uncontrolled capitalism.  
 nutrod42 wrote:
This is kind of OK, but I'd much rather hear the original. If I wasn't familiar with the original version, I doubt this would have made any impression on me.
 
Yeah, I'm in the same boat. The original is fantastic, this one is pretty so-so. I love Nina Simone, but I'm not feeling this one.
 philinnz wrote:

detroit - produced for too long unreliable, expensive cars built on antiquated plants that simply could not compete with reliable, cheap cars produced in other countries. USA failed to realise it needed to build better and more market oriented products. That comes from the top, not from the bottom. All unions etc want (in general) a good deal for their members. Had USA built cars that the world wanted, it could have survived.

 
Agreed.  But would add that the auto unions were part of the decline.  It was sex, drugs and rock 'n roll (with lots of down time) not so long ago in North American auto plants.  Right about the same time that the Japanese plants with their boutique unions/associations established themselves and earned a reputation as good place to work.

No intent to union bash.  Shit, I have worked as a union organizer.  Unions, just like companies and entrepreneurs, do make mistakes.  The best ones -- the ones that understand the importance of productivity -- well, they don't make too many headlines do they?  

This is kind of OK, but I'd much rather hear the original. If I wasn't familiar with the original version, I doubt this would have made any impression on me.
Great music :)
 bitbanger wrote:


Can you tell me what it was, cause I sure don't know? Why couldn't Baltimore or Detroit (or a lot of other cities in the US) compete even with direct and relativly un-fettered access to the largest marketplace in the world?

 
In a word, deindustrialization. 

Here's a wiki on Detroit.

And here's a bunch of opinions from the internet on Baltimore.

Maybe you'll find some understanding in one of those. Be wary for nonsense though. Both sources are of the "open" variety.
 Bat wrote:


Which album can I find his version?  I'm a big fan but haven't heard it or find it.

 
Lofgren´s 1979 solo album "Nils"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nils_(album)
 palatin8 wrote:
 ojibwe wrote:
Strings kinda ruin in. I like Randy's version better anyway, more plaintive. Nothing against Nina, though, she rocks. 


I dig Nils Lofgren's version.

 

Which album can I find his version?  I'm a big fan but haven't heard it or find it.
ZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz
The only Reggae covers worth mentioning are from Toots and the Maytalls
I once saw her in an interview where she said "I am THE greatest singer who ever lived and the people who fail to regocnize this are not worthy to be alive".

Made me go off her completely! Such arrogance I cant stand! She is not bad, but there are better ones, too much to mention in fact! {#Iamwithstupid}
 palatin8 wrote:
 ojibwe wrote:
Strings kinda ruin in. I like Randy's version better anyway, more plaintive. Nothing against Nina, though, she rocks. 


I dig Nils Lofgren's version.

 
Yeah, I think my favorite is Nils version too.
 ojibwe wrote:
Strings kinda ruin in. I like Randy's version better anyway, more plaintive. Nothing against Nina, though, she rocks. 


I dig Nils Lofgren's version.


 Stingray wrote:
PRETTY LOVELY!!!!

 
Yes  ; )
 unclehud wrote:
Yeah, I could see this as a lament from a Barbudan living in Baltimore and remembering warm sunshine, beaches, and palm trees.  The reggae motif is spot on for that interpretation.  (She had a long-term affair with the Prime Minister of Barbados.  Lucky man. )

Easy to visualize that, and her voice captures the void that such a person would hold in their heart as they resigned themselves: "Baltimore is a hard place just to live. "

Don't think that's what Randy Newman had in mind when he wrote it, but that's what makes covers so interesting to me.

 
Spend a week in B-more.

Then report back.
70's had a way of dulling down great artists....
 
Strings kinda ruin in. I like Randy's version better anyway, more plaintive. Nothing against Nina, though, she rocks. 
 bitbanger wrote:


Can you tell me what it was, cause I sure don't know? Why couldn't Baltimore or Detroit (or a lot of other cities in the US) compete even with direct and relativly un-fettered access to the largest marketplace in the world?

 
detroit - produced for too long unreliable, expensive cars built on antiquated plants that simply could not compete with reliable, cheap cars produced in other countries. USA failed to realise it needed to build better and more market oriented products. That comes from the top, not from the bottom. All unions etc want (in general) a good deal for their members. Had USA built cars that the world wanted, it could have survived.
 ick wrote:

I can tell you it wasn't because of the unions or "socialism" as the right likes to call it.  

 

Can you tell me what it was, cause I sure don't know? Why couldn't Baltimore or Detroit (or a lot of other cities in the US) compete even with direct and relativly un-fettered access to the largest marketplace in the world?
 bitbanger wrote:
The fading of Baltimore is very sad. Once a great industrial and port city. Hopefully they will not end up in the same mess that Detroit finds itself in.

Questions is why did these union dominated and relatively socialist cities end up in the hopper? What went wrong?

 
I can tell you it wasn't because of the unions or "socialism" as the right likes to call it.  
I'm sure because all the union supporting and socialist cities worldwide have been utter failures. Like Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam. Or for that matter Vancouver and Victoria. /Snark
 bitbanger wrote:
The fading of Baltimore is very sad. Once a great industrial and port city. Hopefully they will not end up in the same mess that Detroit finds itself in.

Questions is why did these union dominated and relatively socialist cities end up in the hopper? What went wrong?

 
Pretty simple - the industrial jobs that supported the economy were either moved to Asia or made unnecessary by technology.  Sic transit gloria mundi.

... and I still prefer Randy Newman's version, Nina Simone's a great singer, but she just didn't make this song hers. 
The fading of Baltimore is very sad. Once a great industrial and port city. Hopefully they will not end up in the same mess that Detroit finds itself in.

Questions is why did these union dominated and relatively socialist cities end up in the hopper? What went wrong?
really nice.
nice
 unclehud wrote:
Yeah, I could see this as a lament from a Barbudan living in Baltimore and remembering warm sunshine, beaches, and palm trees.  The reggae motif is spot on for that interpretation.  (She had a long-term affair with the Prime Minister of Barbados.  Lucky man.)

Easy to visualize that, and her voice captures the void that such a person would hold in their heart as they resigned themselves: "Baltimore is a hard place just to live."

Don't think that's what Randy Newman had in mind when he wrote it, but that's what makes covers so interesting to me.

 
If you're from Barbados, it is "Barbadian", not Barbudan.  Or simply say "Bajan".  
Yeah, I could see this as a lament from a Barbudan living in Baltimore and remembering warm sunshine, beaches, and palm trees.  The reggae motif is spot on for that interpretation.  (She had a long-term affair with the Prime Minister of Barbados.  Lucky man.)

Easy to visualize that, and her voice captures the void that such a person would hold in their heart as they resigned themselves: "Baltimore is a hard place just to live."

Don't think that's what Randy Newman had in mind when he wrote it, but that's what makes covers so interesting to me.
ashamed to say I had no idea she did this ....{#Eek}
IF YOU CAN'T FEEL HER HEART BREAK, {#Moon} YOU DED. it ain't her best work , however it is the essence of what the song says. and she is obviously one  amy winehouses ' models.
 BikeCoachDave wrote:
Randy Newmans version brilliantly captures the imagery of these lyrics. Nina Simone sounds like she is just reading them off a page. What a poor remake.
 

YO, NO EAR, HEART OR SOUL......HOW CAN YOU LIVE THAT WAY? {#Beat}
never will be another {#Fire} NINA {#Fire}
 Shesdifferent wrote:

Oh....I was going to say I really liked this version of it. Oh well.....
 
This version's pretty good - kind of unusual.  To me, her phrasing is consistent with the reggae-style tempo of the music.  I don't necessarily like all of her work, but I wouldn't presume to tell Nina Simone how she should sing.
 BikeCoachDave wrote:
Randy Newmans version brilliantly captures the imagery of these lyrics. Nina Simone sounds like she is just reading them off a page. What a poor remake.
 



His version has no soul, her's does.
 BikeCoachDave wrote:
Randy Newmans version brilliantly captures the imagery of these lyrics. Nina Simone sounds like she is just reading them off a page. What a poor remake.
 
And it would be a boring music world if all artists interpreted the music exactly the same as each other....
 BikeCoachDave wrote:
Randy Newmans version brilliantly captures the imagery of these lyrics. Nina Simone sounds like she is just reading them off a page. What a poor remake.
 
Oh....I was going to say I really liked this version of it. Oh well.....
Randy Newmans version brilliantly captures the imagery of these lyrics. Nina Simone sounds like she is just reading them off a page. What a poor remake.
Has more meaning to me after watching the HBO. series, "the Wire"
I wonder if she intended to suck the life out of this song, or if that was accidental?

This version is a good reminder that just because you can do a cover of a great song, it doesn't follow that you should.


Now that's a lot of soul
He WROTE IT!!!!!

 
Sleepytyme wrote:

Didn't Randy Newman do this?


 


Didn't Randy Newman do this?


"Baltimore"  is one of her very best albums!  In the top 3. 
Not my cup of tea.  I love Nina Simone, but she's barely singing here, there's no discernible emotion in her voice, and it definitely isn't playing to her strengths!  It's not god-awful or anything, but certainly not good. A 4 in my book.
Nice transition from Amy Whine house. Groovy tune.
PRETTY LOVELY!!!!
Takes all the pain out of it. Clipped uninvolved delivery. No thanks.
Has she covered "Short People?" Now THAT would be awesome.
Helluva story. Wow.

 
robco1 wrote:

I've done that train ride many times. You get a very grim look into what were once nice working-class neighborhoods, now trash-ridden yards and crumbling tar-papered row houses. Tourists at Harborplace and party-goers heading to Fells Point usually miss that part of town.

When I was 19 I took my girlfriend to Harborplace and a strung-out woman approached me panhandling. With her eight year old son and four year old daughter. I said "well, if you need some food, let's get you some food," and took her son into the Subway across the street. I will never forget the shame, anger and hurt in his eyes when he said "You could've given me the money, man. I would have got the food." I didn't have to tell him why I didn't want to just give cash to his mom.

 


This is probably the most listenable regaee song I've ever heard. Solid 6.


 bokey wrote:
A hard town by the sea. Randy Newman wrote this as he was passing through on a train. Local boy Nils Lofgren does a great heart felt version.
 
I've done that train ride many times. You get a very grim look into what were once nice working-class neighborhoods, now trash-ridden yards and crumbling tar-papered row houses. Tourists at Harborplace and party-goers heading to Fells Point usually miss that part of town.

When I was 19 I took my girlfriend to Harborplace and a strung-out woman approached me panhandling. With her eight year old son and four year old daughter. I said "well, if you need some food, let's get you some food," and took her son into the Subway across the street. I will never forget the shame, anger and hurt in his eyes when he said "You could've given me the money, man. I would have got the food." I didn't have to tell him why I didn't want to just give cash to his mom.

 HarrO wrote:
Too cool. Nina doing a reggae cover of Randy Newman. Only Bill can come up with this stuff!!!!!!!!!
 
Yeah, ain't it great  {#Biggrin}

 tprimeau wrote:
This is unique, original and outstanding.
 
{#Exclaim}

Reggae + strings + Nina Simone + Randy Newman. Who'da thunk it?! Very cool cover.
This is unique, original and outstanding.
 big_gare wrote:
Goddess of cool...
 
Did she ever do a duet with Randy Newman? They'd bland nicely . . .
 aelfheld wrote:
A rendition that ill-serves both Nina Simone and the song.

 

Agreed...........
Godlike....
beautifully expressed and beautifully felt.
i love love love the sweet sassy & soulful Miss Simone. Mmmmmm....
 
jadewahoo wrote:
My feeling has always been that if an artist cannot bring something new and fresh to a cover, then leave it alone. Nina, however, takes the emotional rawness of Randy Newman's original and draws that emotion on down into the depths of pain seen from the eyes -and sung from the guts - of centuries of contending with suffering stirred with an impossible hope. Genius.

 


My feeling has always been that if an artist cannot bring something new and fresh to a cover, then leave it alone. Nina, however, takes the emotional rawness of Randy Newman's original and draws that emotion on down into the depths of pain seen from the eyes -and sung from the guts - of centuries of contending with suffering stirred with an impossible hope. Genius.

Wow!

I was feeling recognition but couldn't place it. And when I did figure it out I was really surprised. I love the Randy Newman version (don't know who did the original). But I think this is a very nice and creative version. I dig the slow, balmy groove of it. It doesn't have the nasty bite that the Newman version has - and I love that bite. This one has a little more subtle irony, I think.

Nice one, Bill. Got me to login :-)
hope the money is going where it belongs (Nina's) family,,not the record company's ,,,, love it,,,,,, roots,,,,,, the planet is spinning fast.... what are we going to do when it is so poisoned we can't live......
 copymonkey wrote:
Wow—Nina covering Randy Newman! How awesome is that?!!
 
Very awesome indeed! {#Bounce}
NOT feeling it.  A 2.
I'll bet Randy approves!
A rendition that ill-serves both Nina Simone and the song.

Goddess of cool...
Too cool. Nina doing a reggae cover of Randy Newman. Only Bill can come up with this stuff!!!!!!!!!
Without the slightly discordant piano bits in this, it sounds quite empty. Sounds more like a Balmore-porno shoot than a depressing synopsis of a city.
Very smooth to listen, a great moment ... but transgenic music hum, should play the original.
 Laptopdog wrote:


Absolutely agreed.
Why not just play the original Randy Newman version?! His stuff is never played on RP!
Cases in point....

(click here)

(click here)

(click here)

Not to mention all his other great stuff that's never made it onto RP.

 

I've heard Randy's version of this song 1000 times on RP, but never this one... I only barely got a glimmer of recognition when it got to the chorus, and I was still surprised to know there was another version on here...
Wow—Nina covering Randy Newman! How awesome is that?!!
Dig. What a bad ass laid back groove.

 

 Amy Winehouse - Back To Black       ==>      Nina Simone - Baltimore

** 10 **


{#Music} Love Randy, Nina and Nils' versions.  Great tune and shouts out to my fam in "Balmore".  Peace

TheLib wrote:
She's taken a great song and sucked all of the emotion out of it. Yuck!
Absolutely agreed. Why not just play the original Randy Newman version?! His stuff is never played on RP! Cases in point.... (click here) (click here) (click here) Not to mention all his other great stuff that's never made it onto RP.
A hard town by the sea. :yes: Randy Newman wrote this as he was passing through on a train. Local boy Nils Lofgren does a great heart felt version.
Me too. Nina always said if she couldn't bring something to a song she wouldn't cover it. She always made them her own... gotta love her!
Well..I like it.
She's taken a great song and sucked all of the emotion out of it. Yuck!
Ain't it hard just to live? Oh b-more. How I love and hate you.
sharkartist wrote:
I couldn't disagree more. Randy's singing and playing is so heartfelt and beautiful on the original version. This one just sounds lame to me by comparison. Just doesn't go anywhere for me.
Yup. Sounds like an intentionally awkward remake, just to force a different sound out of the song. Unnecessary.
Amy Winehouse and Nina Simone back to back? I hearts diss place, I does.
out_to_lunch wrote:
Nina ALWAYS gets a 10. No, 11.
...and nothing less. :clap: :pray: This song is new to me.
I wasn't really paying attention to the music... so when Bill said we'd just heard a cover of Randy Newman's Baltimore, I was thinking, "No, I just heard some reggae song..."
Nina ALWAYS gets a 10. No, 11.
cc_rider wrote:
Okay maybe, but comparing her version to Randy Newman's (original) version doesn't seem quite right. Not knocking Mr. Newman, but his true talent lies in writing, not singing. This has an interesting kind of reggae backbeat, with an 'Inner City Blues' sort of groove. And of course Nina. c.
I couldn't disagree more. Randy's singing and playing is so heartfelt and beautiful on the original version. This one just sounds lame to me by comparison. Just doesn't go anywhere for me.
keller1 wrote:
I like Nina Simone but this is nowhere near as good as the original.
Okay maybe, but comparing her version to Randy Newman's (original) version doesn't seem quite right. Not knocking Mr. Newman, but his true talent lies in writing, not singing. This has an interesting kind of reggae backbeat, with an 'Inner City Blues' sort of groove. And of course Nina. c.
Ummm, no. Sorry.
I wish I could hear this - I'm intrigued.
interesting. took me a long moment to realize which song this is...
maybe i am biased since i am in b-more right now, but i love this song.
I like Nina Simone but this is nowhere near as good as the original.
Nina gets at least a 9 whenever she sings... c.
Huh?