Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Lady Day

If you're are more than a casual fan of Billie Holiday then you know the clip below very well and you probably know the story behind it too.  If not.....

...this clip is from the 1957 ABC television special, "The Sound Of Jazz".  Billie is singing "Billies Blues" and collaborating with her are the best of the best; you'll hear the roll call at the top of the clip.

Billie and Lester Young (who takes the second solo) had a relationship that endured a quarter century.  Some think they were lovers, others say, that while they may have had physical relations in the beginning, theirs was more of a best friend-sole mate-brother-sister thing.  He's the one who first came up with the name "Lady Day" (for her mother and Billie, being Billie, quickly co-opted it).  She is the one who coined his nickname "The Prez".  The had a spiritual and psychic connection that produced some of the finest jazz recordings ever made.  And like all sensitive, artistic and addicted geniuses, they had had a bombastic falling out.  This show was the first time they had seen or spoken to each other in years.

They were both sick (she, heroin and he, alcohol) and would both be dead within two years.  It is almost embarrassing, and most certainly humbling to be privy to the intimate secrets, regrets, apologies and pledges that are exchanged between them over the course of his short solo. 
Everyone in the control room (who of course knew their story) was in tears by the end of it.


normadesmond said...

just marvelous.

MJ said...

She gets a lot of air time chez Mistress MJ.

Along with Dinah Washington, of course.

Stephen said...

We have the same taste... we have different taste. You point of view always gets my full attention.

My verification word is seedajiz. Really.

FelixInHollywood said...

If you don't, I will.