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"See-Line Woman"

With Simone scheduled to release Broadway, Blues, Ballads in the fall of 1964 , Hughes is contacted to lend his Nov. 1960 Spotlight on Nina Simone review to the liner notes on the back cover of the album. One song on this album, “See-Line Woman,” was suggested directly by Hughes in a letter [See Below].

 

“See-Line Woman” was performed for the first time with Hughes in attendance at the March 21, 1964 concert, and this live version was included when the above album was released.  

Often spelled various ways, "Sea-Lion," "C-Line," and "She-Lyin'," the most likely understanding appears to be that the song speaks of prostitutes who greet sailors as they arrive in port.  The women's different colored dresses immediately communicated what services they were willing to provide.  As such, the original title (and perhaps best?) might be "Sea-Line Woman" to denote where these women worked (along the Sea line).

 

“See-Line Woman” became the only song Simone ever really liked from her album Broadway, Blues, Ballads.    

“See-Line Woman” was released in mid-July of 1964 as the B Side to “Mississippi Goddam” [See bottom left]. In this visually stunning single (where “Goddam” appears as a handwritten approximation of something like “ *@!!*!! ”, the tune Hughes suggested is named “Sea-Lion Woman.” 

 

The song was performed on TV by Nina on the Steve Allen Show in 1964. The song would continue to appear on set lists in 1989, and Simone was still singing it as late as November of 1999 when she performed in Miami. 

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