Sunday, March 10, 2013

Definitive Guide to Music of Big Lebowski - LA Weekly

LA Weekly celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the Big Lebowski with a soundtrack breakdown...

Song: "I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good)" (1962)
Performer: Nina Simone
Where the song is heard: "Tell me about yourself, Jeffrey," says Maude Lebowski in a post-coital haze. As all four minutes of "I Got It Bad" play out, the two lie naked between the sheets, while the Dude puffs on a roach, tells his life story, uses the bathroom, makes a White Russian, calls Walter and learns Maude's reason for seducing him: She wants a baby.
Simone's sultry tune was written by Duke Ellington and included in his Jump for Joy musical revue, which premiered at the Mayan Theater in downtown Los Angeles in 1941. The project featured an all-black cast, and was an early statement by the jazz legend addressing civil rights. Vocalist Ivie Anderson performed "I Got It Bad" 101 times during the show's run, and the sensitive ballad became an instant classic, with everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Louis Prima to Thelonious Monk tackling it.
Twenty-one years after Anderson, Nina Simone recorded the track as part of Nina Simone Sings Ellington, a 1962 tribute album. Her label, Colpix, pulled out all the stops for the ambitious project, employing a full orchestra and the Malcolm Dodd Singers, who provided a soothing, gospel hush to the record. Simone's interpretation is a slow burn, with the glacial tempo pushed gently by the drummer's brushes while the orchestra quietly punctuates her husky vibrato. It's a masterful display of minimalism and control, which closes with a 10-second scat flourish, enough to secure Simone's place as the "High Priestess of Soul."
How does all of this tie in with the Dude and Maude? It doesn't, although their conversation shows that he, too, has undertaken a bit of activism in his day. ("I was one of the authors of the Port Huron Statement. The original Port Huron Statement. Not the compromised second draft.") Oh, and like Maude, by the time Simone shot the cover photo for Ellington, she, too, was pregnant. 

Big Lebowski @ LA Weekly

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