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Billie Holiday was Lady Day

Billie Holiday would have been 97 on Saturday. Wikipedia has a particularly good bio of her sad life and its even sadder ending–broke, broken, addicted and about to be arrested. She was all of 44 years old. The particulars are different, but reading about Holiday led me to think of Amy Winehouse.

Here are the American Masters bio and both authorized and unauthorized Holiday sites.

God Bless the Child is one of Holiday’s signatures. Other important Holiday songs are Ain’t Nobody’s Business, Fine and Mellow (here featuring Lester Young) and Strange Fruit, which is about lynching. A tune called The Blues are Brewin’ was less successful, but used in a nice video with Holiday alongside a young looking Louis Armstrong.

Here are two fun facts about Holiday: Her real name was Eleanora Fagan and she sometimes babysat Billy Crystal, whose father was in the music business.

Above is “God Bless the Child” and  “Now Baby or Never.”

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.