Nina Simone

Mississippi Goddam

Song Review by

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.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Best of Nina Simone [PolyGram] 1969 Verve / Polygram 4:52
Here Comes the Sun 1971 BMG / RCA 0:00
No Image 1986 NDB TV
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood 1989 Verve 4:52
The 60's, Vol.1 1993 Universal 4:52
Movin' on Up, Vol. 1: Songs from the Civil Rights Struggle 1994
Various Artists
The Right Stuff 0:00
Feeling Good: The Very Best of Nina Simone 1994 Universal Distribution / Universal International 4:47
Verve Jazz Masters 17 1994 Verve 4:55
Verve Jazz Masters 58: Nina Sings Nina 1996 Verve / PolyGram 4:58
Saga of the Good Life and Hard Times 1997 RCA 5:30
Lady Blue 1997 Charly Records 4:40
My Baby Just Cares for Me: The Best of Nina Simone 1998 Crimson Productions 4:35
The Very Best of Nina Simone: Sugar in My Bowl 1967-1972 1998 RCA 0:00
The Jazz Singers [Jazz World] 1999
Various Artists
Jazz World 4:49
The Gold Collection: Classic Performances 2000 Retro Music 4:37
My Baby Just Cares for Me [Import] 2000 Jazz Time Records 4:47
Nina: The Essential Nina Simone 2000 Metro 4:41
Best of Broadside 1962-1988 2000
Various Artists
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings 4:59
Misunderstood 2000 Recall (UK) 4:40
Beyond Mississippi: The Blues That Left Town 2002
Various Artists
Manteca 4:45
Four Women: The Nina Simone Philips Recordings 2003 Universal Distribution / Verve 4:57
The Diva Series 2003 Verve / Universal Distribution 4:56
My Baby Just Cares for Me [Jazz Time] 2003 Jazz Time Records
Anthology 2003 RCA 4:54
The Very Best of Nina Simone [Universal International] 2003 Universal International 4:54
Young, Gifted and Black 2003 Dynamic 4:32
The Nina Simone Story 2003 Snapper 4:41
The Essential Album 2003 Golden Stars 4:47
Black Swan 2005 Pazzazz 4:38
The Definitive Collection 2006 Hip-O 4:52
No Image 2006 Sony Music Distribution 5:34
To Go: Stick It in Your Ear 2006 Verve 4:55
Gold [Canada] 2007 Universal Distribution 4:56
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Nina Simone 2007 Verve 4:54
Gold [Verve] 2007 Verve 4:54
No Image 2008 Legacy
Legends: Nina Simone [Decca] 2009 Decca 4:47
The Essential Nina Simone 2011 Legacy / RCA 4:54
The Complete RCA Albums Collection 2011 RCA / Sony Music 6:55
Gold [Universal] Verve 4:52