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ABOUT NOSTALGIA

Annie Lennox is an icon, not only because her voice is without peer, but because for four decades she has fearlessly surrendered herself to her music. It has taken her down dark roads and up joyous paths.

Throughout, she has resolutely defied categorization, diving into blues, soul, folk and pop— all with equal abandon— to create songs that captivate and bewitch, and, more than anything, make us feel less alone.

On “Nostalgia,” Lennox reveals another layer. Even though jazz is not the genre for which she is best known, how could she resist the siren call of some of the most memorable melodies and lyrics from the Great American Songbook: songs like George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward’s languid “Summertime”; Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell’s wistful “Georgia on My Mind”; Abel Meeropol’s shattering “Strange Fruit,” and Johnny Green and Edward Heyman’s yearning “I Cover The Waterfront.”

Many of the 12 songs here are rooted in the blues, which have always combined the beautiful and painful — crossroads Lennox knows all too well. These songs haunt as much as they enchant.  On “Nostalgia,” her sublime interpretations of these classics renders them both timeless and new, bringing an intoxicating intimacy to the material that makes us want to lean in closer to the speakers to breathe in her every nuance.

Some of the masterpieces on “Nostalgia” are more than 80 years old, yet they stand as relevant and poignant today as when first written. They are permanent fixtures in a transitory world, and, like artists such as Nina Simone, Ray Charles and Billie Holiday, who performed them before her, Lennox proves herself to be a more than worthy and faithful steward of these precious treasures for the short time they are under her watch.

As she did on “Medusa,” her lovingly curated 1995 collection of some of her favorite songs, Lennox doesn’t so much as sing on “Nostalgia,” as she shares her soul. She possesses the well-known melodies, filtering them through her life’s experience, and alchemizes them into something entirely new, transporting them beyond the realm of traditional covers. She consumes the songs so fully that is as if they have entered her bloodstream and she has opened her veins so all can absorb the songs as passionately and fully as she has.

Lennox created her own deep relationship to the notes and lyrics, deliberately ignoring the myriad renditions already available for each selection.  She approached each song as if she had never heard it before, with an undiluted purity that boiled the song down to its bare essence.

Co-Producer Mike Stevens started with keyboards and added instrumentation sparingly—a lacerating guitar solo in the middle of “Screaming” Jay Hawkins’ torrid “I Put A Spell on You,” or a lonesome accordion accompaniment on the pining “I Can Dream, Can’t I” but wisely left the focus squarely on Lennox’s incomparable voice. She cradles Carmichael’s genial Southern standard, “Memphis In June” and caresses the gentle slopes of “The Nearness of You,” one of the most tender, romantic songs of all time. She transforms “Summertime” into a lament, as well as a lullaby. With all extraneous orchestration stripped away, the songs return to their original power and, in some cases, an almost aching sweetness and innocence absent from much of today’s music.

The 12 songs here stand magnificently on their own individually, but, taken together, they form a mosaic of our humanity, linked together by our universal desire for love, acceptance, and connection, and united by Lennox’s raw and beguiling delivery.

We re-discover ourselves in every song, their familiarity rekindling an aspect of our own journey, whether it’s rejection, longing, cherishing, or  remembering. Even though these songs came from an era when the world was a very different place, the human condition hasn’t changed and neither has their ability to touch us in the deepest recesses of our hearts and reveal their — and our— unerring vulnerability once again. Especially in Lennox’s loving hands.

- Melinda Newman

Nostalgia Tracklisting:

MEMPHIS IN JUNE
GEORGIA ON MY MIND
I PUT A SPELL ON YOU
SUMMERTIME
I COVER THE WATERFRONT
STRANGE FRUIT
GOD BLESS THE CHILD
YOU BELONG TO ME
SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN
I CAN DREAM, CAN’T I?
THE NEARNESS OF YOU
MOOD INDIGO

‘I PUT A SPELL ON YOU’

"When I recorded this song it was kind of like, “I think I really get this from the perspective of a vengeful woman". There are so many ways to interpret it, but I've taken the infidelity line. This issue of infidelity between men and women is a common theme that a lot of people will identify with. I’m not saying that men are the only ones who "betray", it goes both ways, but it does seem that, broadly speaking, men are created with a somewhat different take on their sexual behaviour than women.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was the man saying he’d put a spell on the woman to own her “because you’re mine.”

To sing it from the women’s perspective gives it a different kind of twist."

- Annie Lennox

Written by Jalacy Hawkins

I put a spell on you
Because you’re mine
You better stop the things you do
I tell you I ain’t lyin’
I ain’t lyin’
You know I can’t stand it
Your runnin’ around
You know better, Daddy
I can’t stand it ‘cause you put me down
Oh no
I put a spell on you
Because you’re mine

You know I love you
I love you
I love you anyhow
And I don’t care if you don’t want me
I’m yours right now
I put a spell on you
Because you’re mine