section is dedicated to the great songwriters Billie
served as interpreter. All the songs BH recorded from each particular composer
are listed after his name.
The numbers in blue between brackets
to the recordings' original order in "STUDIO
(Master Takes) while
the ones in green(egLR 59)refer
sequence. The stars
ÅÅ representtheir evaluation in the respective
Gershwin was the composer
with the largest number of tunes sung by Billie Holiday in this collection. All
the commented songs below have their lyrics by his brother Ira Gershwin.
ÅThe Man I
Love (1924) a
wonderful love song: Maybe I shall meet
him Sunday / Maybe Monday, maybe not / Still I'm sure to meet him one day /
Maybe Tuesday will be my good news day. From the famous play“Lady Be Good” is one of the most popular songs ever. Billie do not
honor the song, though, this being her sole recorded track.
ÅÅÅA Foggy Day (1937) And
suddenly, I saw you standing right there / And in foggy London town, the sun was shining everywhere. Beautiful.
297)ÅÅÅBut Not For Me
ÅÅÅOur Love Is Here To Stay
ÅÅÅ1/2They Can't Take That
Away From Me
ÅÅÅ1/2Embraceable You (1930)
listen: Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you! Embrace me, you
irreplaceable you! From the play “Girl Crazy” and sung by Gene Kelly
in the film “An American in Paris” (1951). A jewel, one of
the best songs ever written; also a memorable tune by Billie.
Call The Whole Thing Off
Cole Porter is probably my
favorite composer. However, there seems to be no good match between Porter and
Billie – a clear example is Night and Day. Probably, two different styles.
Porter is famous by his lyrics, worked to perfection – a characteristic of
those composers that made both music and lyrics.
Night And Day (1932)
this song is probably one of the best ever written, look at the lyrics in the
first verse: Like the beat beat beat of
the tom-tom/ When the jungle shadows fall/ Like the tick tick tock of the
stately clock/ As it stands against the wall/ Like the drip drip drip of the
raindrops/ When the summer shower is through/ So a voice within me keeps
repeating you… you… you… Night and day, you are the one/ From the
musical “Gay Divorce” in the same year.
ÅLet’s Do It
183) ÅÅÅWhat Is This Thing Called Love?
ÅÅÅEasy To Love (1936) this is a wonderful love song, listen: You'd be so easy to love/ So easy to idolize/… The song is
from the film “Born To Dance” where there was also another gem, I’ve
got you under my skin, that Billie never recorded.
ÅÅLove For Sale
ÅI Get A Kick Out Of You
ÅÅÅJust One Of Those Things (1935)
From the musical “Jubilee”. What
an elaborate lyrics in the final verse: So
good-bye, dear, and amen/ Here's hoping we meet now and then/ It was great
fun/ But it was just one of those things.
ÅAll Of You
Berlin, unlike Cole Porter, seems
to be a perfect match for Billie. Almost all the songs she recorded got high
evaluation, as you can see below. He is probably the most known name in the
American popular music. Berlin is also known to write
complete songs, music and words. Berlin is also one of the most
prolific composers, having written almost 900 songs; however, the three I
selected are from the early thirties.
41)He Ain’t Got Rhythm
ÅÅThis Year Kisses
ÅÅHow Deep Is The Ocean (1932)
listen to Billie’s lament: And if I
ever lost you/ How much would I cry?/How
deep is the ocean? / How high is the sky?
ÅÅI’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
ÅÅÅIsn’t This A Lovely Day?
ÅÅÅCheek To Cheek (1935)
the song first appeared in the film “Top Hat”. A wonderful happy song: Heaven,
I'm in Heaven/ And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak/ And I seem to
find the happiness I seek/ When we're out together dancing, cheek to cheek.
300) ÅÅÅSay It Isn’t So (1932)
Billie for sure meant that when she sung this wonderful song: Everywhere
I go, everyone I know, whispers that you're growing tired of me/ Say it
How to select any of these
wonderful songs? All of them got high standards. I decided to included the two
that have lyrics by Johnny Mercer. I also want to point out that the
unforgettable “Over the Rainbow” from the film The Wizard of Oz (1939) with Judy Garland is another masterpiece
from Arlen (lyrics from Harburg).
Come Rain Or Come Shine (1946)
I'm gonna love you like nobody's loved
you, / Come rain or come shine. / High as a mountain and deep as a river, /
Come rain or come shine. And so Mercer goes, and Billie follows with
266) ÅÅÅI Gotta Right ToSing The Blues
283) ÅÅÅ1/2Ill Wind
302) ÅÅÅÅ One For My Baby (1943) one of my favorite songs, the honor goes to the lyrics, look
how it starts: It's quarter to three,
there's no one in the place/ Except you and me/ … / We're drinking my
friend, to the end/ Of a brief episode/ Make it one for my baby/ And one more
for the road. Billie wouldn’t do any better.
Kern was one of the
greatest, having influence in a generation of composers.
Way You Look Tonight
ÅÅWhy Was I Born
Help Lovin’ Dat Man (1927)
from the famous musical “Show Boat”, has lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II: Tell
me he's lazy/ Tell me he's slow/ Tell me I'm crazy, maybe, I know/ Can't help
lovin' that man of mine.
from the musical “Roberta”, it has very elaborated lyrics by Otto Harbach:
Yesterdays, yesterdays / Days I knew as
happy, sweet sequestered days… Billie said it was one of her favorite
tunes and recorded it three times, but still owe us a memorable performance.
ÅÅA Fine Romance (1936)
from the film “Swing Time” featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers,
lyrics by Dorothy Fields. A pleasant song, with plenty of movement and swing.
Three wonderful songs by
Duke, born in Russia as Vladimir Dukelsky.
ÅI Can’t Get Started (1936)
not only mine, but one of the jazz groups favorites, lyrics by Ira Gershwin: Iv'e
been around the world in a plane/ Settled revolutions in Spain/ The North Pole I have charted / But can't get
started with you.
ÅÅÅAutumn In New York(1934)
its particularity is to have both words and music by Duke.
ÅÅÅApril in Paris
here with Lorenz Hart
Rodgers was one of the
most prolific American composers but his partnership with Billie did not render
that many tracks. All of the songs listed below have lyrics by Lorenz Hart.
Didn’t Know What Time It Was (1939)
wow, this was Billie sole recording of this song, in LA, 1957. An
unforgettable performance that deserved an extra half-star. Listen: … /Grand
to be alive, to be young, to be mad, to be yours alone! /…
It’s Easy To Remember
Glad To Be Unhappy
You Took Advantage Of Me
Ellington was a musician
in the broad sense of the word. Through his orchestra passed some of the biggest
names in jazz. He was also a composer, despite the fact they were not actually
composed as songs, but as instrumental pieces. A legend.
Ellington was the closest
contact Billie had with the greatest composers. To focus in the recorded tracks,
she made a short film with his band, “Symphony in Black” in 1935 (s. 3a).
Then, in 1945, she had a radio broadcast with Duke’s Orchestra in the
California Philarmonic Auditorium during the Esquire Magazine Second Annual Jazz
Concert. In 1952 she took part in the Duke’s 25th Anniversary Concert in
1)Saddest Talethis song, by Ellington, has the merit to be one
of the first recorded by Billie, in the early thirties.
ÅÅ1/2Prelude To A Kiss
Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me (1943)
lyrics by Bob Russell: Do nothin’ till you hear from me / Pay no attention
to what’s said, / Why people tear the seams of anyone’s dream / Is over my
head. Wow, I still can hear Ben Webster’s sax behind me.
originally instrumental, the lyrics are by Mitchell Parish: Diamonds
shining, dancing, dining with some man in a restaurant / Is that all you
really want? / No, sophisticated lady, / I know, you miss the love you lost
long ago / And when nobody is nigh, you cry. It sounds quite Billie,
right? One of my favorites.
Rube Bloom was a very good
pianist and also a bandleader. Billie selected a couple of his best works.
59)ÅÅÅMaybe You’ll Be There(1947)
what was the reason I liked this song that much? A minor tune from Bloom, a
bad sound quality live recording in 1949, what was it? I don´t know, but so I
did. Lyrics by Sammy Gallop: Each time I
see a crowd of people, / Just like a fool I stop and stare, / It's really not
the proper thing to do, / But maybe you'll be there. / I
go out walking after , Along the lonely thoroughfare, / It's not the time or place to
look for you, / But maybe you'll be there.
239)ÅÅI Can’t Face The Music
Day Out (1939)
probably, his greatest hit, a song full of passion. One of my favorites. It is
a great partnership, the lyrics are by Johnny Mercer: Day in, day out/ That same old voodoo follows me about / That same
old pounding in my heart,/ whenever I think of you / And baby I think of you /
Day in and day out. There is something that makes me remember Cole Porter
(the voodoo, perhaps?); it is to regret Billie never recorded You
Do Something To Me… (do, do, that
voodoo that you do so well).
Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me
Green was a musical
director and wrote not that many songs, but he has four tunes included in
Billie’s repertoire. And among them is Body and Soul, an all-time jazz
ÅYou Showed Me The Way
ÅI Cover The
And Soul (1930)
an unforgettable performance. Lyrics by Heyman: My
heart is sad and lonely/ For you I sigh, for you dear only/ Why haven't you
seen it/ I'm all for you body and soul.
5)ÅMiss Brown To You
Sentimental And Melancholy
Funny That Way
For Words (1937)
with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, it is probably his best effort.
88)Å Says My Heart
ÅI Hear Music
I Have Is Yours (1933)
for the film “Dancing Lady” has lyrics by Harold Adamson: Everything
I have is yours/ You are part of me/ Everything I have is yours/ My destiny.
No wonder Billie selected this tune and made it a superb recording.
A famous songwriter,
Donaldson lived long time in Hollywood and composed and arranged
music for many motion pictures.
44) You’re Driving Me Crazy
ÅÅ1/2Love Me Or Leave Me
this is a wonderful song, lyrics by Gus Kahn: This
affair is killin' me/ I can't stand uncertainly / Tell me now I've got to
know/ Whether you want me to stay or to go/ Very Billie, isn’t it? I
selected this track with Teddy Wilson to represent the tune.
Dorothy Fields was one of
the great lyricists ever. In here, we found three wonderful McHugh works with
36)ÅI Can’t Give Anything But Love lyrics by Dorothy Fields
77)ÅI Can’t Believe That
You’re In Love
ÅOn The Sunny Side Of The Street (1930)
an all-time jazz favorite, has lyrics by Dorothy Fields: Grab your coat and get your hat/ Leave your worry on the doorstep/
Just direct your feet/ To the sunny side of the street. Billie rendering
was unfortunately less inspirated.
Must Have That Man (1928)
also lyrics by Dorothy Fields
His real name was
Salvatore Guaragna, a son of Italian immigrants.
15)ÅYou Let Me Down
How Could You
Say It With A Kiss
6) Jeepers Creepers
225)ÅI Only Have Eyes For
a lovely melody, lyrics by Al Dubin.
Jimmy Van Heusen
Thought About You
That Dream (1939)
a nice and sophisticated melody, lyrics by Eddie De Lange. Billie recorded it
in her last years, those beautiful moments in Los
ÅAll The way a
beautiful song, unforgettable in Sinatra voice, that Billie recorded in her
last year, under Ray Ellis violins.
Doodle Never Went To Town
20) ÅI Cried For You -
this record was Billie’s sales champion in Brunswick. That’s the first
"standard" she recorded, a song from 1923 by Arthur Freed & Gus
Arnheim & Abe Lyman. Beautiful melody
(MT 56) ÅÅ
Sun Showers - a
nice melody, in a swung tempo
57) ÅYours And Mine
Many people don’t
realize Billie was also a composer, or sometimes a lyricist with other composers
as partners (their names in between brackets). These songs represent her style
and are generally included in records in her homage. Billie frequently sang
‘em in her live presentations.
Happens For The Best (Smith)
134)ÅTell Me More, And More And Then Some More
116)ÅÅLong Gone Blues
178)ÅDon’t Explain (Arthur
Herzog, Jr) Hush now, don't explain/
Just say you'll remain/ Unless you're mad, don't explain/ My love, don't
explain/ What is there to gain/ Skip that lipstick/ Don't explain// You know
that I love you/ And what loving does/ All my thoughts are real/ For I'm so
ÅNow Or Never (Lewis)
212)ÅSomebody’s On My Mind (Arthur Herzog, Jr)
71)You Gotta Show Me
ÅÅÅBillie’s Blues (akaI Love My Man)I love my man/ I'm a liar if I say I don't/ I love my man/ I'm a
liar if I say I don't/ But I'll quit my man/ I'm a liar if I say I won't/ I've
been your slave, baby/ Ever since I've been your babe/ I've been your slave/
Ever since I've been your babe/ But before I'll be your dog/ I'll see you in
was Billie’s tour the force, there
are almost 20 different recordings along her career; the one that I pointed
out here being a live session with the longest known version of it. Delicious.
Sings The Blues (Alberta Nichols)
278)ÅÅGod Bless The Child (Arthur Herzog, Jr)
192) ÅÅÅÅFine And MellowMy man don't love me/ Treats me oh so mean/ My man he don't love me/
Treats me awfully/ He's the lowest man/ That I've ever seen/ .../ But
when he starts in to love me/ He's so fine and mellow.
forced to mention here another Billie favorite, just to compare the lyrics.
Those four songs are a tribute to love and to be loved. A recurrent theme for
My Man (Mon Homme)originally
a French tune, it was also one of the public favorites in her live
presentations. Here’s how the lyrics goes: It
cost me a lot/ But there's one thing that I've got/ It's my man/ It's my man/
Cold or wet/ Tired, you bet/ All of this I'll soon forget/ With my man/ He's not
much on looks/ He's no hero out of books/ But I love him/ Yes, I love him.