Nina Gordon is an American alternative pop/rock singer from Chicago, IL. She is best known as the co-founder, along with her friend Louise Post, of the ’90s alternative rock band Veruca Salt who scored minor alt-rock hits with the songs “Seether” and “Volcano Girls.” Gordon and Post had a falling out in 1998. Post continued on with Veruca Salt, while Gordon started kicking it solo, pop/rock style. Her two releases, to date, Tonight and the Rest of Your Life (2000) and Bleeding Heart Graffiti (2006), are more adult contemporary than Veruca Salt‘s grungy alternative. Her solo music is kind of like Sheryl Crow, or maybe like mainstream Liz Phair. Nina Gordon, like former ’90s alt-rocker Kay Hanley, is in her mid-’40s (she was born on November 14, 1967) but, unlike Hanley’s post-Letters To Cleo work, Gordon’s post-Veruca Salt output has been limited. However, Gordon’s two solo releases are excellent and should have, at least, dominated the adult alternative charts.
Nina Gordon‘s solo debut, Tonight and the Rest of My Life, opens with “Now I Can Die,” the second single, whose pop/rock sound lets us know that her former band is left, mostly, in the past. The first single, “Tonight and the Rest of My Life,” did relatively well and was later featured in the trailer for the film The Notebook (2006). The third single, “2003,” has a killer hook that’s a little dated: “I wanna meet in two thousand and three / I want to see what the future can bring to me.” “Horses In The City,” “Hold On To Me” and “Hate Your Way” are other cool tracks in the same vein, while “Number One Camera” is pure power pop, “Too Slow to Ride” veers into country, and grungy rocker “Badway” reminds us that Veruca Salt is not completely forgotten. Nina closes the album with a cover of Skeeter Davis‘ 1962 hit “The End of the World.”
Bleeding Heart Graffiti is a concept album of sorts which details a relationship from its beginning to its, inevitable, end, but each song stands on its own, and this album is one of my favorites. After the brief title track, the cycle begins with “Christmas Lights,” which is about falling into a new relationship and the hopes that something more will come of it: “I’m building my life on the dreams we string together / Like Christmas lights.” In “Kiss Me ‘Til It Bleeds,” the first single, Nina convinces herself that a bad boy is worth being with: “If bitter is sweet then he’s just what I need / So kiss me till it bleeds.” Then, in “Don’t Let Me Down,” which opens with earthy acoustic guitar chords, she’s afraid of jumping into this new relationship after bouncing back from a previous bad relationship: “But I’m so bitter / What if I poison him?” Of course, she gives in, and falls in love. But, love is for losers. Stupid love. So, let’s skip down to when the relationship goes sour…
In the sadly beautiful “Superstar,” the relationship has become strained and Nina feels she might be to blame: “Cause you are a Superstar / And I have pushed you way too far / I don’t know if I can get to where you are / But, baby, I’m on my way.” But, in the end, she can’t narrow the distance between them. In “Turn on Your Radio,” she sings, regretfully: “Turn on your radio / And listen to these words till you believe ’em / You have lost me / Yeah, you have lost me, this time.” And, in “When You Don’t Want Me Anymore,” she accepts being alone, again, and, in the bridge, she admits defeat: “Love dies, everyone lies / You did your best and so did I / But everybody has to give up sometime.” This album should have ended with “Bones And A Name” and its final refrain: “We’re just bones and a name / We all go out the way we came / So don’t you try to tell me that love is all we need.” But, she’s not bitter, and in “The Time Comes,” whose melody is hauntingly similar to Bob Dylan‘s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” she sings, with less regret, after more time has passed: “I wait for the day to break me /I look up to the sky / I look back on the life that graced me / When you were mine.” An amazing journey.
Watch the video for “Tonight and the Rest of My Life” here:
Nina Gordon Discography
2000.06.27 – Tonight and the Rest of My Life (Warner Bros.) [Album]
2004.00.00 – Even the Sunbeams (Unreleased) [Album]
2006.08.08 – Bleeding Heart Graffiti (Warner Bros.) [Album]