Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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Nina Simone & Richie Havens Each Extol the Sun

I was sorry to learn of the passing of Richie Havens, whose legendary performance as the opening act of Woodstock was so riveting – in no small part due to the sheer physicality and novelty of Havens using his considerable thumb as a moving capo, holding down all six strings of his openly-tuned guitar as he chorded up and down the neck of the guitar.

My Richie Havens music library, unfortunately, consists of exactly one song, “Minstrel from Gault” – from Ronco’s aforementioned Do It Now “music collage” album.  However, a recent vinyl purchase – Nina Simone’s 1971 RCA album, Here Comes the Sun – led to the discovery that she and Richie Havens each did a great job of interpreting the classic Abbey Road track that George Harrison had famously written one day while “playing hooky” from an Apple Records business meeting:

“Here Comes the Sun”     Nina Simone     1971

Compare Nina’s version with Richie Havens’ which went to #16 in the pop charts in 1971 – his only charting single, interestingly:

“Here Comes the Sun”     Richie Havens     1971

Intrigued to learn that even though “Here Comes the Sun” was a radio staple, this song was never released as a single – instead, that distinction went to George’s other great Abbey Road contribution, “Something,”  his first ever A-side.

Thanks, EMI:

According to Wikipedia, “astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan had wanted [the original Beatles version of “Here Comes the Sun”] to be included on the Voyager Golden Record, copies of which were attached to both spacecraft of the Voyager program to provide any entity that recovered them a representative sample of human civilization. Although the Beatles favored the idea, EMI refused to release the rights and when the probes were launched in 1977 the song was not included.”

EMI was justifiably concerned about the possibility of aliens bootlegging and profiting from a song that had been a worldwide radio smash back on the home planet.

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