1001 Albums #16

I think I do not like the beginning of rock and roll. It was too simplistic for me. At first I thought I do not like old music, but I realised from listening to Billie Holiday and remembering that I love classical music that is not the case. I actually prefer Holiday’s 50s voice over her 30s voice.

Before I listened to Lady in Satin i listened to some of Holiday’s earlier recordings. She has a unique style of phrasing which reminded of Macy Gray a little. It also reminded me of a play I work on set in the 30s and the background music might have been Holiday’s.

 As I listen to the 1001 Albums from the past I read a lot about each artist and almost all of them have one thing in common. Tragic lives. Holiday’s life from the beginning was terrible so I quickly bonded with her. She spun like an out of control top until her early death at 44 of cirrhosis. The year after she released Lady in Satin.

As I listened to her older stuff and progressed to Lady in Satin I heard the deterioration of her voice. She sounds like someone at the end of her life. You can hear the drugs, alcohol, love lost, prison sentence, financial troubles, longing for love, rape, racism and many other things in her strained vocals. There is life in her voice. It is a life barely breathing, but it is there.

It is an album to listen to when you are feeling bad about your life and you need a little perspective. Most people will never go through the things I have or feel the things Holiday suffered through, but we all have gone through something painful that will connect us to the sorrow in Holiday’s voice.

I wish there was a check and balance in Hollywood or Nashville or wherever they keep all the people who rise to stardom, then eventually crash to the earth while we look on in disgust and mock them for their weaknesses as we toss them into the rubbish bin of old news. I wish they would force them to be clean and healthy before they allow them to record or star in a film. I wish I lived in a world where people actually cared enough for those who have mental health issues and have trouble finding their way. All we need is to feel loved, but I guess nobody can actually make us feel loved. I thought I was loved once, but it was a lie. The longer I live the more I realise that most people only care about themselves. I know that world I imagine will never exist. There will never be another Billie Holiday, but there are plenty more people on the road to destruction.

I think there should be a foundation that receives the money that the record companies are making off of dead singers. That money should go towards helping people with drug problems and mental health issues. I would definitely buy Lady in Satin and quite a few other Holiday albums.

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