Clocking in at over ten minutes, Simone's version of this African-American traditional spiritual song is an outpouring of intense emotion, possibly tied to her own religious beliefs or her political fervor in the battle for civil rights (condemning her own sins or condemning society's). It is featured on her 1965 album Pastel Blues.
This song was inspired by the Book of Exodus, where Moses leads a group of people out of Egypt only to be punished by a series of plagues when they are not truly repentant for their sins. The story is also told in Psalm 78.
Simone learned this song way back when she was known as Eunice Waymon, a young girl known for her piano skills at her mother's church. This song was often used at revivals and prayer meetings to bring sinners to the altar. "Some of my most fantastic experiences - experiences that really shake me, now that I think of them - happened in the church when we'd have these revival meetings. I'd be playiNnNnNnNnNng, boy! I'd really be playing. I loved it! Folks would be shoutin' all over the place. Now that's my background!" she told Ebony in 1969.
In the UK, the instrumental middle of this song is used on a advert for Renaut cars. In 2005 the BBC used it on the trailers for the series Judge John Deed.
Suggestion credit: Kazryn - Potters Bar, England
Nina Simone's estate sued HTC after it used the Felix da Housecat remix of this song in a commercial, allegedly without permission. The singer's heirs claimed that the smartphone manufacturer failed to obtain the rights to use the track for their "You Are Different" advertising campaign.
This was sampled in Talib Kweli's 2003 single "Get By" and in Timbaland's "Oh Timbaland" from his 2007 album, Shock Value.
This has been featured on several TV shows, including Homicide: Life on the Street, Scrubs, Entourage, The Blacklist and Person of Interest. It also appears in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair, where it plays throughout a scene where Pierce Brosnan is stealing a painting from a museum.
Ri from WashingtonIt was also used in an episode of Sherlock.
Bmn from Hisuan, ArgentinaThis was also featured in Person Of Interest (TV Series), don't remember when.
Greg from Austin, TxI just re-watched the Thomas Crown Affair (1999 version), the instrumental portion (clapping mostly) and a tiny snippet (one word) of the vocals appear at the beginning, in the initial scene where he steals it. The majority of the song appears at the end, in the scene where he puts it back.
Tom from Dubuque, IaAlso was at the end of the movie called Nuovomondo, AKA USA (Golden Door)
Maarten from Bouwel, BelgiumThis song is a traditional. The first recording was by The Weavers (live @ Carnegy Hall)
John from Atlanta, GaDennis is wrong.
Sinnerman is played during the film's climax, but portions of the song are used throughout the film, including the first theft scene. You might not be familiar with the longer, 10 minute version of the song, but there is a large instrumental section with clapping in the middle.
Jukka Herttua from Helsinki, FinlandSinnerman was played at the end of the new David Lynch movie Inland Empire(2007). I think it was played fully
Sam from Torrance, CaThe Felix da Housecat remix of Sinnerman is also played toward the beginning of the 2007 Miami Vice movie with Colin Farrell and Jamie Fox.
Sam from Torrance, CaThis song plays at the end, during the credits of an Entourage episode, originally airred 7-23-2007.
A.j. from Chicago, IlThe Felix da Housecat remix is played in Cellular with Chris Evans (the guy from Not Another Teen Movie and Fantastic Four), Kim Bassinger and Jason Statham (from The Transporter).
Dennis from Chicagoland Burrows, IlThe song is played only once in the movie, at the END, the scene where he "puts the painting back". Never at the beginning when he steals it. The beginning scene is very short, which is one of the best parts of the movie, how he steals it so quickly. The end is a bit longer, but still compressed. There are so many events which happen in the short amount of time as the song is played. The song works perfectly in the film as it sounds quite climactic, even on its own.
Sam from North Vancouver, CanadaThis song also appears in the original version of The Thomas Crown Affair (With Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen)