Nelson George - Author, Director, President of Urban Romances
Nelson George: City Kid "Voices Inside My Head" (excerpt)
By Nelson | march 15, 2009 | Post a comment
City Kid: A Writer's Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success

When Baker made her New York concert debut at Avery Fisher Hall on the heels of Rapture, I was in the fourth row. That night she certainly fulfilled my need for the transcendental. Many in the crowd must have shared my eagerness to hear her, because Baker was rewarded with standing ovations after her third song, seventh song, and tenth song. Somewhere buried in my archives are my notes on that show. I don’t remember what songs inspired that response, but I do know I’ve never attended a show for what was in essence, a debuting singer where the audience was so passionately in love. On that particular night Baker and the audience were in absolute sync. It was on that night two decades ago that I decided that, if I ever got married (something still in doubt all these years later), Baker (or a recording of her) signing “Angel” or “Sweet Love” would be played as my bride and I walked down the aisle.

I remember thinking as I left Avery Fisher Hall that it was nights like this that made all the bad gigs, uninspired professionalism, and formulaic performances I endured worth it. It was why I waded through the piles of vinyl that surrounded my desk at Billboard. I was always looking for that music and performer who, however briefly, touched the divine and shared that feeling with me. During my prime years as a music critic there were others who did it for me (Tracy Chapman, Babyface, Bruce Springsteen, Luther Vandross, Fela, Aretha, Paul Simon, John Coltrane, and Miles), but something about Anita Baker made me feel it so profoundly.

Looking back to my late twenties, I think now that I was seeking something in art that was lacking in my life. While I gloried in these transporting musical moments, I couldn’t connect emotionally with people in a n equally satisfying way. I was in love at least twice during these years, and had strong romantic connections to a series of amazing girlfriends. But I never married, and rarely totally committed. I can chalk some of that up to just being a horny young man. I think that’s understandable.

However, I know there was more to it. This feeling I’d had when I was a teenager, of being outside of my own emotions, and of being dispassionate about my life, affected my love affairs. I could feel a cold, distant part of myself take over. That part of me could find fault with my love for any woman. It wasn’t that I attacked them, but I criticized myself out of the relationship. I wasn’t listening enough. I wasn’t sympathetic enough. I was too busy. I was married to my writing.

Whatever I said to them (and told myself), it was just a justification for not truly committing. It felt like something inside was blocking me, and I cried about this inability quite a bit during this period. I’d play Otis Redding and John Coltrane alone in my high-ceilinged living room, drowning in my melancholy for several spins of the record, and then I’d vow to do better and be more open the next time. It was sad and funny that I could be so damn emotional about a record but not the women who loved me.


City Kid: A Writer's Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success will be available April 2nd, 2009.

Stay tuned for more info on Nelson George's upcoming City Kid appearances:
April 2nd, 2009 – Vertigo Books (College Park, MD - /
April 6th, 2009 – Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe (Harlem)
April 7th, 2009 – Barnes & Noble (Brooklyn Heights)
April 15th, 2009 – Marcus Books (Oakland, CA)
April 16th, 2009 – Book Soup (West Hollywood, CA)
April 17th, 2009 – Eso Won Books & The Root Down (LA, CA)
May 13th, 2009 - Brooklyn Historical Society

Pre-Order Now:
note: for instore appearances most stores require books be purchased onsite.
< Back to blog list
2 comments for 'Nelson George: City Kid "Voices Inside My Head" (excerpt)'

Air Jordan 10 on may 10, 2010 at 02:19:45 AM says:

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!I wish you good luck!

Retro Jordan on may 9, 2010 at 07:16:24 PM says:

Excellent post. It was very helpful for me. thank you! Wish you make a further progress in the future, I will always look through your website.

Post a comment:

name     required
email     valid email required

site by sunsetfaktory
Urban Romances