onsdag, februari 15, 2006

A few notes on Billie Holiday's "Lady in Satin"

You'll hear folks chatter: "Holiday's voice was essentially gone by 1958, and although not yet 43, she could have passed for 73. Ellis' arrangements do not help, veering close to Muzak; most of this record is very difficult to listen to. Late in life, Holiday expressed the pain of life so effectively that her croaking voice had become almost unbearable to hear."

And it sure is quite difficult to hear Billie sing songs like "You Don't Know What Love Is". In the Jimmy Scott biography "Faith in time: The life of Jimmy Scott", Jimmy speaks about the death of his friend Billie and about "Lady in Satin"; "I listened to her last great record, "Lady in Satin", where she finally had the full orchestra and strings she'd been longing for. Her voice had a different quality. For me, it's a deeper quality. Truer. Wiser. She knew she was dying, and these were her last gifts to us."

In my mind "Lady in Satin" is a truly extraordinary record and while I wouldn't recommend it as her strongest album, it is a must-hear for anyone who has ever flipped their heart and lost.

You don't know what love is
Until you've learned the meaning of the blues
Until you've loved a love you've had to lose
You don't know what love is

You don't know how lips hurt
Until you've kissed and had to pay the cost
Until you've flipped your heart and you have lost
You don't know what love is