'Don't explain' Nina Simone (The other woman, Philips, 1968)

Hush now, don't explain
There ain't nothin' to gain
I'm glad that you're back
Don't explain

Quickly, with a kind of urgency, Nina Simone begins, 'Hush now' ... and so does her masterful evocation of (internal) conflict in her version of the Billie Holiday standard.

Unlike Holiday's original version of the song that she wrote with Arthur Herzog after learning of her husband's infidelity that remains 'clear' and constant in its conviction, albeit held in Holiday's fractured voice, Simone's delivery is full of tension.

Simone speeds up, slows down - tells her lover to be silent, while expressing her undying devotion to him - all the while accompanied by the ironically sweet piano-line that oscillates between the lower notes and a kind of tinkly breeziness.

She then ends with a kind of confused statement of conviction as she allows her voice to become ugly, off-key. 

Perhaps closest to Simone is the remarkable arrangement by Mal Waldron - found on his 1957 record Mal/2 - that features John Coltrane.

I love the way it starts with the aggressive atonal repetition of a two notes in isolation to then move into a kind of elegant diversion to return to this key element, allowing the rest of the music to continue as if unawares.