In 1982, Nina Simone moved from her home in Geneva to Paris. She had mostly been living outside of the United States for some time—for one, she thought the music industry had it out for her because of her protest song “Mississippi Goddam.” Along with that, upon her return from her self-exile in Barbados, she learned of a warrant out for her arrest for tax evasion, which Simone did purposely in response to the Vietnam War. So she returned to Barbados, had dalliances with the then-Prime Minister Errol Barrow, got divorced from her abusive husband and manager Andrew Stroud over what may have been a complete misunderstanding, and struggled with her bipolar disorder. Her disorder, according to Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone in the 2015 Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, manifested as physical and mental abuse against her, which at times led her to suicidal ideation. “She went from being my comfort to the monster in my life,” Lisa says.
This was, for the most part, a time when Simone was not recording music. A tumultuous time in her life, she felt upended, wronged and unwell. She would record her first album in over seven years, Baltimore, in 1978, which was critically panned and received poor commercial success. Of her first studio album since leaving RCA Records, Simone recalled how little she cared for the music and process, saying, “The material was not my personal choice, and I had no say whatsoever in the selection of songs. It was all done before I could make any decisions.” She notably felt displeased with the heavy inclusion of reggae influences (which she called “corny”), a choice of producer Creed Taylor and guitarist Eric Gale. “I was forced to sing songs in order to get out of there,” she said of the Belgian barn in which the album was recorded.
Dejected and lacking in creative freedom, Simone sought out a small French label and recorded Fodder on My Wings in ‘82, which would become one of her favorite works. While her being on a small label meant she was able to seize a lot of creative freedom—she wrote every song on the album—the album mostly fell into obscurity, receiving poor distribution.
Nevertheless, Simone continued to perform these songs live, particularly opening track “I Sing Just To Know That I’m Alive.” Her weariness and despondence is plain to see on semi-title track “Fodder in Her Wings” (which, oddly, is two words different from the album’s title), now considered an essential in Simone’s catalogue.
Friday, Verve/Universal Music announced a full reissue of Fodder on My Wings, complete with three bonus tracks from an equally elusive French reissue from ‘88. This means Fodder on My Wings will be available on April 3 on vinyl, CD and streaming services in hi-res quality, complete with new cover art. You can check out a new lyric video for “I Sing Just To Know That I’m Alive” below and see the details of the Fodder on My Wings reissue further down. Also, check out where Simone fell on our list of the 50 Best Protest Songs of All Time.
Fodder on My Wings Reissue Cover Art:
Fodder on My Wings Reissue Tracklist:
1. I Sing Just To Know That I’m Alive
2. Fodder In Her Wings
3. Vous êtes seuls, mais je désire être avec vous
4. Il y a un baume à Gilhead
5. Liberian Calypso
6. Alone Again (Naturally)
1. I Was Just A Stupid Dog To Them
2. Color Is A Beautiful Thing
3. Le peuple en Suisse
4. Heaven Belongs To You
7. They Took My Hand
01. I Sing Just To Know That I’m Alive
02. Fodder In Her Wings
03. Vous êtes seuls, mais je désire être avec vous
04 Il y a un baume à Gilhead
05. Liberian Calypso
06. Alone Again (Naturally)
07. I Was Just A Stupid Dog To Them
08. Color Is A Beautiful Thing
09. Le Peuple en Suisse
10. Heaven Belongs To You
13. They Took My Hand