The song of the day for Sunday, November 29, 2015 is “Lush Life.”
About This Song
Billy Strayhorn wrote both music and lyrics for “Lush Life” as young man between 1936 and 1938. However, it was not performed publicly until 1948, when Strayhorn and vocalist Kay Davis performed it with the Duke Ellington Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 1948. It’s rather amazing to realize that Strayhorn was only a teenager when he started writing this song. It has had several notable recordings, including those by Nat “King” Cole, Billy Ekstine and Johnny Hartman.
About This Version
In our remembering of Billy Strayhorn, I feel that I have to feature “Lush Life” from Cheek To Cheek. Even though this is a Lady Gaga solo, I don’t think Mr. Bennett will mind just this once. She did such a wonderful job on this song, a song more closely identified than any other.
“Lush Life,” as well as Cheek To Cheek, is available from iTunes.
With “Lush Life,” we close our weekend tribute to Billy Strayhorn. If you are a fan of both Ellington and/or Strayhorn, I’d like to point you to one of my favorite albums: And His Mother Called Him Bill. A grieving Duke Ellington headed into the studio after Strayhorn’s death from cancer in 1967 and recorded this album of Strayhorn’s compositions. I cannot listen to Ellington playing “Lotus Blossom” without crying.
I also call your attention to “Blood Count,” Strayhorn’s last composition, finished while he was in his final hospitalization before his death on May 31, 1967. I find it almost unspeakably beautiful. He was only 51 years old when he died.