A Malian's Musings about Music and Mali…

“I’m a fool to want you” by Billie Holiday

I heard this song in a “Chanel N 5” commercial a little while ago.  Being a fan of Billie Holiday, I’m very surprised that this didn’t catch my attention a lot sooner. 

That being said, “Lady Day” has so many great songs in her catalogue, a few of them are bound to “go over your head”.  Another reason could be that the visuals from the commercial brought the song to life and made me appreciate the story being told.  The “Chanel” commercial was not the first time I listened to this song, it was the first time I truly “heard” it.

The “Lady in Satin” album was originally released in 1958 about a year before her death.  By that time she was suffering from poor health, mainly due to her heroin addiction, and the years of both physical and emotional scars had taken their toll on her voice.  She had lost a lot of that youthful spark in her vocals and all that was left was the pain.  Ironically, from strictly artistic point of view, the beauty of this record can be attributed to the fact that she was able to tap into the pain she was experiencing in her life.  Sadly, this is often the case with art in general, we indirectly benefit from the artist’s personal misfortunes, because let’s face it: no emotion inspires like pain, and therefore, we have to cherish anyone who’s willing to share theirs. 

Besides the heart-breaking vocal performance, I’m completely blown away by the string arrangements which are courtesy of the legendary Ray Ellis and the horn section provides that vintage feel to the overall composition.

Lady Day forever.

Title: I’m a fool to want you

Artist: Billie Holliday

Album: The Lady in Satin, 1958

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