Night Lights Classic Jazz

The Day Lady Died: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday died in New York City at 3 a.m. on Friday, July 17, 1959–45 years to the day of this broadcast. In addition to Holiday’s music–”Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me,” from her little-known last album BILLIE HOLIDAY (recorded after LADY IN SATIN), “This Year’s Kisses” (with Lester Young), the vibrant early side “Life Begins When You’re in Love,” a moodier & spookier alternate take of her Decca recording “No More,” and other tracks–we’ll hear Lester Young and Mal Waldron talking about Billie, along with Waldron and Holiday’s composition “Left Alone.” The program also includes a 1966 recording of Frank O’Hara reading his poetic tribute, “The Day Lady Died.”

Music Heard On This Episode

Miss D.D.
Mary Lou Williams — Black Christ of the Andes (Smithsonian/Folkways, 1964)
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Miss D.D.
Mary Lou Williams — Black Christ of the Andes (Smithsonian/Folkways, 1964)

Notes: Program theme

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Left Alone
Mal Waldron/Jackie McLean — Left Alone

Notes: Song co-written by Mal Waldron & Billie Holiday (who never recorded it).

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Lady Sings the Blues
Billie Holiday — Carnegie Hall Concert (Verve, 1956)
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Life Begins When You're In Love
Billie Holiday — Quintessential V. 2 (Columbia, 1936)
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This Year's Kisses
Billie Holiday/Lester Young — A Musical Romance (Columbia/Legacy, 1937)
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Long Gone Blues
Billie Holiday — Quintessential V. 7 (Columbia/Legacy, 1939)
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Lover, Come Back to Me
Billie Holiday — Commodore Master Takes (GRP, 1944)
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No More
Billie Holiday — Complete Decca Recordings (Decca, 1944)

Notes: Rare alternate take, even moodier & spookier & slower than the original.

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I Cover the Waterfront
Billie Holiday/Bobby Tucker — Jazz at the Philharmonic (Verve, 1947)
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Detour Ahead
Billie Holiday — Summer of 1949 (Bandstand, 1949)
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I Wished On the Moon
Billie Holiday — Lady in Autumn (Verve, 1957)
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Don't Worry 'Bout Me
Billie Holiday — Last Recording (MGM/Verve, 1959)

Notes: Her last album (which was not LADY IN SATIN, as many believe; LADY IN SATIN was recorded in 1958)

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The Day Lady Died (poem)
Frank O'Hara — Voice of the Poet (Random House, 1966)

Notes: O'Hara reading his 1959 tribute to Holiday in 1966, just a few months before his own death at the age of 40.

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I Thought About You
Billie Holiday — Billie Holiday Story V. 3 (Polygram, 1954)

Notes: With Bobby Tucker on piano

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Night Lights
Gerry Mulligan — Night Lights (Verve, 1963)

Notes: Program's closing theme

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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • http://www.ericcomstock.net Eric Comstock

    David –

    So happy to hear your superb work! This show on Lady Day is enough, really, but to see below a salute to Jackie Paris is also thrilling!

    I look forward to much more. Congratulations and thank you.

    All best –

    Eric Comstock
    New York

  • David Brent Johnson

    Eric, thanks so much. I haven’t done as many shows on vocalists as I’d like to, but I have one coming up at the beginning of September–”Impulse: the Vocal Sides,” that focuses on Johnny Hartman, Jackie Paris, Lorez Alexandria, and the other artists that did jazz-vocal records for the label.

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Afterglow is WFIU's weekly program of jazz and American popular song hosted by David Brent Johnson.

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