ANOHNI hasn’t released a full-length album since 2016’s Hopelessness, but there’s been other music since then: The 2017 EP Paradise, the odd one-off single. And today, ANOHNI has announced and released a new 7″ single, which features covers of two different legends’ songs.
One of those covers is new. It’s a take on Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” a cryptic classic from Dylan’s 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. Dylan may or may not have written the song about a breakup with Joan Baez, but it’s the kind of track that can absorb whatever meaning anyone wants to put on it. ANOHNI explains in a press release that the song reminds her of the current moment. She recorded her lo-fi take on it with guitarist and longtime collaborator Kevin Barker, and its video is full of images from ANOHNI’s late-’90s work with Antony And The Johnsons.
The other cover on the 7″ actually dates back to that moment; it’s a live recording of ANOHNI singing Nina Simone’s “Be My Husband” at an Antony And The Johnsons show at New York’s Knitting Factory in 1999. “Be My Husband” comes from Simone’s 1965 album Pastel Blues. (Simone’s husband at the time, Andrew Stroud, is actually the song’s credited writer.) Below, stream both songs from the 7″ and read what ANOHNI has to say about the two covers.
In a press release, ANOHNI says:
I recorded “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” with Kevin Barker one afternoon a few years ago. I listened to it recently and it reminded me of Now, a nausea of nostalgia for the suffering of the present, or even the future. I did a couple of songs by Bob Dylan at that time, encouraged by Hal Willner, the producer who we lost to Covid 19 in April. I hope that this period, and this repugnant presidency, will be over soon, and that these bigots and apocalyptic capitalists and evangelicals will crawl back into their rotten little holes. But how can this happen unless the American media and social media are forced to tell the truth? I am glad to see the mobilization of Black Lives Matter and the re-emergence of the Occupy movement. When Biden said “Americans don’t want revolution, they want a return to decency,” he was wrong. We all know deep down that the continuation of our civilizations for much longer will require seismic change.
I saw Nina Simone perform at Carnegie Hall in 1991 while I was still in college. The concert was not properly publicized, and the theater was only half full. I think it may have been her first time back in NYC in many years. She was rumored to be volatile and unpredictable. That night she sang and played with such dignity, so incredibly, and she did 5 or 6 encores. For me, she was the greatest musician of the 20th Century. She didn’t write many songs, but the ones she wrote were among the most profound of the era. “Be My Husband” was one such song. The lyrics spin a paradox of romantic assertion and submission. This live version of the song was recorded at an Antony and the Johnsons concert at the Knitting Factory in NYC in 1999.
The “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” b/w “Be My Husband” 7″ is out 10/2 on Secretly Canadian, and it’s on the streaming platforms now.