Where Keep On Pushin had a subtle political message, Nina Simone was not afraid to be as specific and political as possible in Mississippi Goddam. The chorus is actually very reminiscent to what Lead Belly did in Scottsboro Boys. Like Lead Belly Simone is responding to very specific events and expressing her anger for the States of Mississippi and Alabama. The events were the murder of a black civil rights activist by the name of Medgar Evers by a segregationist in Mississippi and a bombing of a black church in Alabama. She even names the Governor of Alabama in the song. She also speaks very generally about the injustices black people suffer in general. One lyric “We are all gonna die/ die like flies” denotes a passive coincidence. That she will always suffer injustice.
Aside from the political nature of the lyrics, I actually wasn’t sure what I thought of the song. It’s thoroughly composed and aside from the chorus was mostly in minor key. I think this is a song that is supposed to cause dissonance within the listener. She wants the listener to feel uncomfortable and upset because that’s only a little of how she feels about the situation.
In interviews Nina said that Mississippi Goddam actually hurt her career as the music industry then started to boycott her records and she would eventually leave the country to live in Barbados and would never live in the US again. I wish I could say I liked the song more but I can definitely see how important and influential it is.