Annie Lennox has a new album out and as many famous musicians she had scheduled a signing at Amoeba on Friday night! I was traveling from San Francisco the same day and despite my plane being a bit late, as soon as I landed in LA, I drove to the famous store to be able to catch a glimpse of the iconic diva,… and when I say diva, I refer to her 1992 album of course as the term should not be taken seriously. From what I saw, Annie looks like one the most down-to-earth, genuine persons I have ever seen, accepting to take pictures with everyone (and this is not always the case), holding children, holding hands with people, even giving a very warm hug to a guy with a John Waters physic… no, it wasn’t the famous director but he looked a bit like him! Looking at all these people (mostly gay men) on line to get her new cover LP, ‘Nostalgia’, signed, I wondered, is Annie Lennox the new gay icon?
And why not? There is nothing new about this, she has had a significant following from the Gay and Lesbian community for a long time, but with an album of this type, she is turning into the next Barbara Streisand. ‘The record has been a labor of love’ declared the famous singer, as it is a collection of covers of some of her childhood favorite soul, jazz and blues songs, such as ‘Summertime’, ‘I Put a Spell on You’, ‘Georgia on My Mind’, ‘Strange Fruit’… The idea of the record came to her after watching videos from ‘The Great American Songbook’ on Youtube and looking back at the greatest singers and musicians of the 30s and 40s such as Billie Holliday, Nina Simone, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. She was at the time preparing for a concert in Washington, D.C. for the United Nations as part of the 2012 Global AIDS conference, where she performed with Herbie Hancock. She realized the music of the 30s was going well with her voice, ‘I started to wonder whether my voice might lend itself to going down that path,’ she says, ‘and sort of logged the notion in my mind.’… ‘These songs all come from the collective human experience, and I feel they’re as relevant today as when they were first written. They express an inner landscape of love, loss, beauty, and pain, from a tender romantic ballad, such as ‘The Nearness of You,’ to the somber epic of ‘Strange Fruit,’ which describes an act of unspeakable violence and cruelty; it’s very hallowed ground, and you have to be somewhat courageous in the attempt to honor it.’
The album is not released yet, so people who bought the vinyl at Amoeba got an advanced copy plus the privilege to spend some time with the famous Newwave singer. I was looking from afar, trying to get some pictures, not an easy task! At first I could hardly get anything good as she was surrounded by many people, but I managed to get a few pics….With her platinum blonde ultra short hairdo, an elegant large collar white blouse and a black jacket, she looked great, natural and seemed to truly enjoy her time meeting her fans. A nice guy offered her flowers (no, not the guy who received the warm hug), and I want to do this next time someone I like a lot comes to Amoeba!
With 83 million records sold worldwide, a 40-year career, she is a legend, there’s no other way to put it, and she still finds new ways to impress her fans: ‘When you first encounter a song, you’re just hearing it at the surface level,’ she declared to Amoeba, ‘but if you want to truly absorb it, you have to really listen to it over and over again. At first, you’re like strangers – and then once you’ve befriended a melody, you carry it around in your head for days and you can’t stop singing it. You become deeply connected through this process; it has to become a part of you.’ ‘Nostalgia’ will be released on October 21st in the US and October 27th internationally, so you know what to do if you want these old classics to be part of you again!
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