Nina Cried Power
by Hozier (featuring Mavis Staples)

Album: Nina Cried Power (2018)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song was inspired by singers who made protest songs part of their repertoire. The iconic artists mentioned in the track's lyrics include (among others) the song's namesake Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, James Brown, and Mavis Staples. Hozier told Rolling Stone: "The fights that took place 100 years ago or 200 years ago for whatever - civil rights or workers' right etc. - don't stop. There is no final victory."
  • Hozier recruited R&B legend Mavis Staples to sing with him on the track. "We crossed paths at the Newport Folk Festival in the US and I'd always wanted to work with her," the Irish singer told the BBC. "We flew to Chicago and recorded this and it was super."
  • The song also features legendary musician Booker T Jones on organ.
  • The song has a compelling folky gospel vibe and is about cultivating hope when all seems lost by drawing from the legacy of the protest movement. Hozier told Billboard: "To me, 'Nina Cried Power,' it's looking at the great bonfire of the world and standing in a place of optimism and hope and solidarity."
  • When this rose to #1 on Billboard's Adult Alternative Songs airplay chart dated October 20, 2018, it marked Staples' first solo #1 song on any Billboard tally. (She'd previously led Billboard charts as part of The Staple Singers).

    As regards Hozier, this was his second #1 on Adult Alternative Songs following "Take Me to Church."
  • Barack Obama included "Nina Cried Power" in his favorite songs of 2018 playlist.
  • Hozier told NME that after flying to Chicago to work with Staples they spent the day together going over the song and talking about the lyrics then they recorded her parts there and then.

    "At one point we were JUST ad-libbing to get some flow going together," he added, "and that for me was just amazing."
  • "Nina Cried Power" was the most difficult song on the Wasteland, Baby! album to write. Hozier explained during a Guardian web chat:

    "That song was very nearly abandoned many times over. I always second-guessed that song. No one wants to be seen as being preachy or on a soapbox, so I had a lot of concerns about that song being taken the wrong way. As a result it took longer to write."

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