Perhaps Nina Simone's most famous song, and one of the landmark protest songs of the civil rights era, "Mississippi Goddam" is as brilliantly wicked a piece of social satire as one of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's knife-behind-the-back songs from The Threepenny Opera or The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The song's genius lies in the ironically cheerful way Simone presents it: in the best-known version, recorded live at Carnegie Hall on March 21, 1964, she wryly calls it a show tune for a show that hasn't been written yet, and about halfway through, she witheringly asks, "I bet you thought I was kidding, didn't ya?" (That date is significant: contrary to popular belief, Simone was already performing "Mississippi Goddam" before the June 21, 1964 triple murder of civil rights workers James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, so the song was not composed as a response to that tragedy.) Nonetheless, Simone sings her lyrics with bracing sarcasm that adds to the impact of the dead-serious lyrics in a way that a po-faced, sanctimonious reading would miss. Angry but not strident, with huge reserves of proud dignity, Nina Simone became one of the most important figures in '60s jazz with this song; unlike many protest songs from the same period, which have lost their relevance with the changing social scene, "Mississippi Goddam" remains startlingly fresh.