Nina Simone – Montreux (1976) I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free

Nina Simone – Montreux 1976 – I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free

Nina Simone performing live “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” with piano improvisation.

One of her most popular and iconic songs, Nina openly aspires and wishes she knew what it was like to live in a world without racism and segregation.


When Nina Simone recorded it on her 1967 album Silk and Soul, almost instantly it became a freedom song, up there with “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Blowin’ in the Wind”.

Yet this irresistibly catchy 16-bar gospel-jazz tune began life an instrumental. Born in 1921 in North Carolina, composer Billy Taylor was a gifted pianist who had built an impressive jazz pedigree working in New York with bebop luminaries such as Dizzy Gillespie, Artie Shaw and Charlie Parker.

By the 1960s, he was also a broadcaster and civil rights campaigner, and had recorded many albums, mostly with his trio. Bucking that trend, the first recording of “I Wish I Knew” on Taylor’s 1963 album Right Here, Right Now had a big-band line-up of 19 musicians.

You can read more in the Financial Times article here.

Nina Simone – Montreux 1976 – I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free (Lyrics)

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
I wish I could say all the things that I should say
Say ’em loud, say ’em clear
For the whole round world to hear

I wish I could share all the love that’s in my heart
Remove all the bars that keep us apart
I wish you could know what it means to be me
Then you’d see and agree
That every man should be free

I wish I could give all I’m longing to give
I wish I could live like I’m longing to live
I wish that I could do all the things that I can do
Though I’m way overdue I’d be starting anew

Well I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly
Oh I’d soar to the sun and look down at the sea
And I’d sing cos I’d know that
And I’d sing cos I’d know that
And I’d sing cos I’d know that
I’d know how it feels to be free
I’d know how it feels to be free
I’d know how it feels to be free



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Comment (34)

  1. Я не знал её. Послушал случайно «Consummation», и сами собой родились слова "песня, как крылья летящей души, вырвавшейся из тюрьмы тела." И тут я нахожу эту песню. Мистика!

  2. I used to laugh at her music when I heard it as a child. To me she sounded like a man and her music was too unconventional. I'm 42 now and get enough! Especially with some weed. It takes my high to another level.

  3. You see..the comments I love most? 'she's on drugs'…man….if the place she is in…?

    ..the words, the delivery ?

    …them drugs ? ..should be mandatory…and people should respect 'real' enough to not have to judge. In this ladies case? …anybody dare judge?

    x love x

  4. 😍😍😍😍❤️❤️❤️❤️I love how she touched the piano and then boom!The note comes in🤣😂 Obvious that she's a master in playing this instrument!

  5. Imagine the following:
    You're listening this song. You're not one for skipping the intro, you enjoy a good buildup. After a minute of anticipating the lyrics, you're ready for it, but… there's no Nina.
    It's a different voice, and different lyrics too. It's Randy Newman singing "You've got a friend in me."

  6. I do not get tired of listening her. More than a thousand times. This song and her way of singing is divine. Spirits moving always for you Nina. You are really, really, really one of those GREAT persons that passed in this shit world!!. You are my example of someone must be. Love you

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