Faber have recently published a rare text by Warren Ellis, a book that considers the spiritualism that can exist within belongings that represent a moment, a pivotal point in someone’s career or even just a rare situation or privileged positions. Nina Simone’s Gum is a book precisely all about the preservation of a gum, which is actually a preservation of a moment and the legacy of this iconic and talented musician.
On Thursday 1 July, 1999, Dr Nina Simone gave a rare performance as part of Nick Cave’s Meltdown Festival, during which she was chewing a piece of gum. That gum ended up on the piano she had played during her performance, and that was by no means the end of the journey for that gum. Warren Ellis, known for being in both The Bad Seeds and The Dirty Three, has written Nina Simone’s Gum, a book that explores holding onto those rare moments through tangible mementos, and how the story of this gum travels to various places including an exhibition curated by Nick Cave.
After Nina’s grandiose but riveting show, in a state of awe, Warren crept onto the stage, took Dr Simone’s piece of chewed gum from the piano, wrapped it in her stage towel and put it in a Tower Records bag. The gum remained with him for twenty years; a sacred token and a catalyst for Ellis to venture back to his childhood and his relationship with found objects, and how this affects his general life perspective.
Nina Simone’s Gum also explores trust, relationships and connection as Ellis enlists the help of many to preserve the gum in various ways. A tale about clutching onto experiences, and how they become imbued with spirituality, Nina Simone’s Gum is a beguiling photo book with an introduction by Nick Cave that many music aficionados will hope to traverse. Fascinating and relative, this book perhaps connects with a reader more than most, as we contemplate our connection to our idols.
Nina Simone’s Gum is out now, published by Faber