1001 Albums #16

Billie Holiday – Lady in Satin – 1958
Billie Holiday – Lady In Satin

First Listen
Yes

Prior knowledge of this album
None

Standout Tracks
I’m a Fool To Want You

Afterthoughts
This is where I show my musical ignorance. I’ve heard of Billie Holiday of course but if pressed, I probably couldn’t name any songs, at least not with any confidence.

My first impressions were of her voice, it sounds like an old persons voice, you know when you watch/listen to a singer whose been around for 40 years and they’re still trying to sing the songs from their heyday? Well this is what it sounds like.

And then you find out that the singer was just 43 when it was recorded. Let’s give that some context; here’s a bunch of singers who are still singing and their ages:

Billy Joe Armstrong (Green Day) 40
Damon Albarn (Blur) 44
Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) 47
Thom Yorke (Radiohead) 43
Anthony Kiedis (RHCP) 49

Now to me none of those, and yes I know they are all guys, don’t sound old when they sing. It can’t just be the songs, they are the from the great American songbook they’ve been sung for years and not everyone who sings them sounds old, do they?

And then I Googled her to see what was happening to her around the time of the recording, and wow was stuff happening! She had been addicted to hard drugs including Heroin for over 10 years, had a series of abusive boyfriends, was mixed up with the mafia and had dabbled unsuccessfully in the movies.

This album was released in June 1958 and she was dead by July 1959.

This is an album of great songs and she sings them very well (you don’t need me to tell you that) but knowing her backstory kinda makes it really sad too; this woman with an amazing voice when she started singing ends up on a record where he voice has lost its lustre and is essentially singing to feed her habit.

Hear again
No

Album Entertainment Rating
3 out of 5