Anohni has released a new single featuring a pair of covers: Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and an old live rendition of Nina Simone’s “Be My Husband.” Both songs are available digitally and will be released on vinyl October 2nd via Secretly Canadian.
In a press release, per Stereogum, Anohni said she recorded her version of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” a few years back with Kevin Barker. She’d been encouraged to try recording a few Dylan songs by producer Hal Willner, who’d helmed various tribute compilations over the years and died in April from complications from COVID-19. Anohni’s take is stark and stripped down, just like the original, but boasts a distinctly surreal edge as a woozy guitar twists beneath her tender but blown-out vocals.
Anohni said she returned to her cover of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” recently and was struck by how relevant the song felt, prompting “a nausea of nostalgia for the suffering of the present, or even the future.”
She continued: “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.”
As for the rendition of Simone’s “Be My Husband,” Anohni recorded it back in 1999 at the Knitting Factory in New York City with her old outfit, Antony and the Johnsons. In the statement, she recalled seeing Simone at Carnegie Hall in 1991, noting that the concert had not been properly promoted, and as such the theater was only half full.
“That night she sang and played with such dignity, so incredibly, and she did five or six encores,” she said. “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.”
Anohni released her most recent album, Hopelessness, in 2016, while in 2017 she followed it up with the Paradise EP.