Billie Holiday is a true-blue goddess. This is not debatable opinion; it is straight fact. Her interpretations and originals are some of the most enduring recordings in modern popular music. Her voice lacerates soul and body alike and has been known, on occasion, to reduce grown men to tears. Her spirit is defiantly eternal.
Her final recorded work is Lady in Satin.
It stands as Billie’s last official recording. This is one of those albums that, if given time to prepare for nuclear war or asteroid strike, would be hermetically preserved in an armored bunker for posterity. It would be used as a template for emotional artistic expression in the future.
This is both a certifiable classic and a contemporary, cutting document of heartbreak the likes of which have not been rivaled in our time (as far as I know).
Each song on here is a definitive statement of love and the pain tied inextricably to it. Each track is a journey though a dark night with the faintest candle providing light at the end. Each moment is stamped with the hard-earned wisdom of failure and regret and unshakeable longing.
A listen though this 1958 LP reveals how precious little anyone has added to the book of love in popular music in the intervening years. In many ways, it’s a more nuanced, mature statement on the subject than 50 years of accumulated love songs have provided. Of course, I’m biased. Anyone intimately familiar with this album has a right to be.
Amazon has a reissued cd version with bonus material, but if you can acquire a vinyl copy, by all means follow through. A recording like this rewards turntable listening.