Songs for Distingué Lovers, Billie Holiday
Verve Records, November 27, 1957
Track Listing: 1. Day In Day Out, 2. A Foggy Day, 3. Stars Fell on Alabama, 4. One for My Baby (And One More for the Road), 5. Just One of Those Things. 6. I Didn’t Know What Time it Was, 7. Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, 8. I Wished on the Moon, 9. They Can’t Take That Away from Me, 10. Love is Here to Stay
Note: Track listing is from the Verve Records October 28, 1997 reissue of album where six additional tracks from the original recording sessions were added.
“You like potatoes
And I like potatoes
You like tomatoes
And I like tomatoes
Potatoes, potatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes
Lets call the whole thing off”
-from “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”
Opinions are nothing if not thorny, representing little more than gaps in personal taste. They can even become jaded, weighted down by agenda or expectation or any number of other factors. Some said Billie Holiday’s voice was shot or a fading shadow by this time. Whether this is true seems irrelative to the task at hand: assessing or better yet enjoying something on its own merits, looking into what something is, rather than tossing it aside for what it is not. If Billie Holiday’s voice was fading due to a heavy toll that hard living and drugs had taken, is it not also true that life experience has a way of translating into new emotions? In some regards, is it not a stretch to suggest that an awareness of the finish line actually elevated, not strained, the recorded results?
“We’re drinking my friend, to the end
Of a brief episode
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road”
-from “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)”
But the justification game is a tedious trip, and besides, the real story here is about love. And not just the love of a soul-cutting voice. This is a story about what it means to be inflicted by the magic curse of love.
“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”
-from “Day In, Day Out”
So where better to explore this abyss than with that prize of prizes: young love? What an extraordinary energy, with all the forces of nature locked in its grip.
Concentration wanes. The world closes in a thousand times over during days that are no longer days at all but seconds saturated with unwavering thoughts of a one and only. They become nothing more than a countdown to launch, waiting to rocket to the moon. The young lovers orbit solar systems of obsession, lost in an almost unbearable and painful yearning, lost inside a dream.
“I never planned in my imagination
A situation so heavenly
A fairy land where no one else could enter
And in the center just you and me”
-from “Stars Fell on Alabama”
“Grand to be alive, to be young
To be mad, to be yours alone!”
-from “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was”
The only thing left to fear here is that unavoidable trap of inevitability: the torturous passing of time. Oh, to hold on to now forever, for the day to never end! To be young and in love for eternity! If not for that damned crooked clock!
Somewhere along the shores of planet bliss, a wave rolls in, breaking fast. An unthinkable notion returns, previously hidden behind pain too strong to consider but now too obvious to ignore. But fret not young Romeo. Is there not always a silver lining? And so, without further ado: nothing can ever change what was because what was remains locked in place forever. And as we’ve learned a thousand times over, forever is where it’s at.
“The memory of all that
No, no they can’t take that away from me”
-from “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”
The world giveth and the world taketh away. Let them say the voice was shot or that the story ended far too soon. The truth prevails. The vault of history remains immune to the epidemic of humanity passing. Proof remains as secure as the sacred recordings themselves.
“We may never, never meet again
On that bumpy road to love
Still I’ll always, always keep the memory of
The way you hold your knife
The way we danced till three
The way you change my life
No, no they can’t take that away from me
No, they can’t take that away from”
-from “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”