Nina Simone’s Chewing-gum, extracts – Magic RPM

Magic offers you the good sheets of the French translation of “Chewing-gum de Nina Simone”, bestseller in the United Kingdom, in which the musician partner of Nick Cave delivers a magnificent essay on memory, transmission, and value intimate with seemingly insignificant objects. The book will be published on October 6 by La Table Ronde editions.

10 September 2013. A kitchen in Bishopstone, England. Filming of 20,000 Days on Earththe documentary by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard devoted to Nick Cave.

Nick: Do you remember the Nina Simone concert?

Warren: Oh yes.

Nick: Damn, that was good, huh?

Warren: Yeah, what a crazy thing… I went to a bunch of concerts but this one was one of the best of my life.

Nick: Do you remember before playing she took her chewing gum out of her mouth?

Warren: Mmm.

Nick: She was sitting there, she took her chewing gum and she stuck it under the piano.

Warren: On the piano, yeah.

Nick: And there, bam! She started playing like a fury!

Warren: I have this chewing gum… it’s in my…

Nick: Wait, did you take it?

Warren: Yeah. I went on stage and picked it up at the end of the…

Nick: Are you serious?

Warren: Yes. Rolled up in the towel with which she was wiping her forehead.

Nick: Shit then, I’m jealous.

It was the first time I revealed the existence of chewing gum in public. Strangely, I have the feeling that he became real at that moment. I had often felt that in the studio, when ideas take shape, find their meaning and their raison d’être by escaping their creators. We see them inspire other people, reborn in their own way by meeting the public. When the documentary came out, people started asking me lots of questions. Of the kind :

“Do you really live in this house perched on a cliff? »

“How is the eel pasta prepared? »

“Is it true that you got that chewing gum back?” »

“Do you still have it?” »

“What color is he today?” »

“How big is he? »

“It’s a joke, isn’t it, this chewing-gum thing?” »

“What flavor is it? »

“Have you chewed it yet?” »

Book’s extract Nina Simone’s chewing gum

(…) Something changed when people became aware of the existence of chewing gum. I thought about the number of tiny secrets hanging in the universe, waiting to be revealed. To all those people who shelter intimate places, full of abandoned dreams and wonders. I went up to the attic and opened the drawer where the Tower Records bag containing the briefcase was. I unfolded it. The chewing gum was there. It had kept the same shape as I remembered. The Sacred Heart. A Buddha. This cute little rabbit that the Japanese see at the full moon crushing rice with a wooden pestle to make mochi 餅. Africa. The Welcome Nugget. Sometimes I saw a Christ on the cross, his knees bent. Nina’s teeth marks were still visible on one side. I was both surprised and relieved to find him. I thought about it when I was looking for advice. Alone in my daydreams. I imagined him quivering in the hollow of the towel. Small blood fountain.

Just knowing he was there, nestled in the hollow of his briefcase, gave me strength. Like Thomas Edison’s last breath

Warren Ellis

I hadn’t unfolded the towel since 2013. There were two long periods when I didn’t watch it. I picked it up in 1999, after the concert at the Royal Festival Hall. For five years, until 2004, I had peeked into it from time to time. Then not at all from 2005 to 2013. And from 2013 to 2019, I had gone through a new phase without touching the bag. I didn’t want to disturb him. When Nick told me about his exhibition project, I had to go and check that the chewing gum still existed. The last person to touch him was Nina Simone, her saliva and fingerprints still intact.

Just knowing he was there, nestled in the hollow of his briefcase, gave me strength. Like Thomas Edison’s last breath, preserved in a sealed test tube at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan: While Edison lay dying in bed, Ford asked his son for permission to breathe his father’s last breath. He had put a row of test tubes on his bedside table, and had closed them when Edison had passed away. The invisible, the intangible, the imagination activated by the nothing. This nothing capable of awakening the imagination. The collective imagination. This nothing that could be everything. A relic of one of the greatest concerts I have seen in my life. My connection to a woman touched by the hand of God. Dr. Nina Simone.

1664791308 175 Nina Simones Chewing gum extracts Magic RPM

At one point, I thought he must have disintegrated, but I didn’t have the heart to check. I preferred to imagine it still there rather than find it in a state of decomposition. A kind of Schrödinger’s chewing gum. I didn’t want to know if he was missing. I still remember those images of the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and the Cottingley Fairies that I watched in class when I was 7 years old. It gave me funny sensations every time. Why would I want to question their validity, or try to prove that they weren’t real? It reassured me to imagine the chewing gum rolled up in its napkin at the bottom of the bag, watching for a form of communion. I was convinced that a bit of Nina Simone’s spirit would evaporate every time I opened it. And, in many ways, that thought was more important than the gum itself.

He was still there.

Looking at it, I realized that one day, when I will no longer be of this world, this sacred object will end up in the trash. This exhibition project offered me an unexpected chance to extract Nina’s chewing gum from my eye socket, as if I had had her in my custody long enough and that I was now being asked to set her free to the common good. To pass it on. The time had come to give it back to the world. I had never asked myself the question of what it could mean or represent in the eyes of a third party. For me, it was a very personal object, placed next to other totems that gave me courage in difficult times. Invisible forces. Faith, hope. As for Nick, he seemed super happy to have it: “It’s essential, Waz!! »he exclaimed a month later over a teapot of Lady Gray at the Retreat studio in Ovingdean, where the soundtrack for his future exhibition was being prepared.

Warren Ellis
Nina Simone’s chewing gum
Translated from English by Nathalie Peronny
Publication on October 6 by Éditions La Table Ronde, 224 pages | €28.50
Size 135 x 220 | 100 pictures

Order the book on the La Table Ronde website

We would like to give thanks to the author of this short article for this awesome material

Nina Simone’s Chewing-gum, extracts – Magic RPM

We have our social media profiles here as well as other pages on related topics here.