Lady Sings The Blues


Lady sings the blues
She’s got them bad
She feels so sad
Wants the world to know
Just what the blues is all about

Lady sings the blues
She tells her side
nothing to hide
Now the world will now
Just what the blues is all about

The blues ain’t nothing but a pain in your heart
when you get a bad start
When you and your man have to part
I ain’t gonna just sit around and cry
And now I won’t die
Because I love him

Lady sings the blues
she’s got ’em bad
She feels so sad
The world will know
She’s never gonna sing them no more

No more

Song Notes

Written with young jazz pianist Herbie Nichols, the song was purely autobiographical, finally answering the question long argued by jazz writers and fans alike whether Billie was truly a blues singer or not. The question is academic, as she, like this song, would go on to define what pop stardom was made of: telling your story, straight up.

There’s some evidence that the song was written after “Lady Sings The Blues” was chosen as the title of her genre-defining tell-all autobiography. But we may never know. Certainly when the album of the same name was released in late 1956 on Clef/Verve Records (MGC 721/Verve MV 2047), Lady Day was more in demand than ever; on a de facto book tour, doing radio interviews, TV performances and arranging for her triumphant return to Carnegie Hall.

This era was a reinvention for Billie, blending the understated vocal textures from her 1950s Verve sides, with her finest material. The title track, one of her most biographical, only served to more deeply indicate a new chapter of strength and gravitas was unfolding for Last Day. Many fans have come to prefer this period of stoicism to the more upbeat singer featured on those classic Columbia Records 78’s from the 1930s. But again, the preference is academic, both of equal genius.

The song is also the title of the 1972 movie starring Diana Ross as Holiday.