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no fear! I mean really, no fear.

What’s freedom?

‘Just a feeling’, Nina Simone begins, ‘it’s just a feeling.’


’You can describe it, but you can’t tell ‘em. But you KNOW it, when it happens.’

‘I’ve had a couple of times on stage when I really felt FREE’ - and her eyes light up - ‘and that’s someting else,’ she shifts her position, more straight, more upright, towards the interviewer: ‘That’s. Really. Something. ELSE.’

And then, trying to find the words, ‘like all all, like like’ and then, BAM, she sees the answer, the epiphany is right there:

‘I’ll tell you wat freedom is to me:


I mean REALLY, NO fear’

And since there is no way of describing it, let’s feel it, witness that freedom on stage, brought to you by, who else than Nina Simone, singing ‘I wish I knew how it would feel to be free’:

It’s happening, RIGHT THERE. During the performance, breaking free. Her wish granted. But not immediately.

‘I wish I could break all the chains that are still binding me.

I wish I could say all the things that I can say when I’m relaxed’

- such a simple way of describing freedom, so relatable.

‘I wish I could be like a bird in the sky’, she then looks up and says ‘don’t leave me’.

- Who is she talking to? Might be someone in the audience, but I don’t think so. Maybe it’s freedom? Spirit? It’s almost as if freedom is opening up, but it’s still a very vulnerable balance. Fear and freedom dancing, or fighting, more like.

‘I wish I could share all the love that’s in my heart’

- Another beautiful way of understanding freedom. If we are free from fear, love will flow. It’s already there!

‘I wish I could break all the things that bind us apart’ - then, her face hardens, she hits the keys on the piano, hard, BAM BAM, ‘I wish you could KNOW, what it MEANS, to be me’ (meaning: imprisoned), BAM BAM, ‘then you’d see,’ BAM BAM ‘you’d agree’ BAM BAM


should be free, cause if we ain’t, we’re murderers.’

That line has always intrigued me. We murder ourselves, if we aren’t free, if we let ourselves be chained, by ourselves. That is another form of suicide: not living freely. It’s as if she is still wrestling fear, in that moment, trying to unchain herself, still feeling the chains, but no more! There is determination in her face now, breaking free from the chains, fighting for freedom, knowing that fear must and will relinquish.

Then, slowly, she softens, ‘I wish I could be like a bird in the sky’ and she becomes that bird in the sky before our eyes, her body, shoulders, wings, moving with the music, slowly taking flight ‘if I could find, that I could fly,’ and she spreads her wings, face now joyful, childlike, seemingly amazed at this sudden but hard-won feeling of freedom, ‘soar to the sun’ and she soars, free, to the sun, looks into the crow, almost elated, ‘the spirit’s moving now’ she says, and there’s no denying it, it is right there, in the singing, the music. The words of longing for this freedom have somehow, magically, on stage, opened up this new reality where the music and the words have become true.

Then, there, the smile, the openness of her face. Humming, entranced, singing:

‘I know, I got news for you, I already know,’ and she does know, ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull* ain’t got nothing on ME, FREE, FREE, FREE, FREE, I’M FREE, AND I KNOW IT’

and then the coda

‘(If you?) believe in me, it’s all right…’

Does melancholy creep in? Understanding, foreseeing, perhaps, that this freedom, this hard fought freedom, will always be something to fight for, grasped at but not to be held onto, especially now, nearing the end of the song, freedom slowly ebbing away… but not yet. NOT. QUITE. YET.

‘Cause I know’

I already know’

and she starts soaring, once more,

with determination, then,

head held higher and higher,

refusing to let this freedom go:

‘I found out

how it feels

not be chained

to anything

to any race…

to any





She breaks free in front of our eyes. A warrior, a gladiator fighting for her life, and urging us, daring us, the audience, to do the same. By any means necessary.

PS this here is Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The bird that soared higher than all the other birds (except for Nina Simone of course, Jonathan Livingston Seagull ain’t got nothing on her).

and why not, here are some more free feeling freedom feelings


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