Billie Holiday Jazz Blues

Billie Holiday, 23 March 1949
Billie Holiday, 23 March 1949 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lady sings the blues.  Her haunting voice and heart-breaking rendition of love-songs (and abuse songs) have marked me for life.  This is for that marvellous combination of jazz and poetry proposed by us tonight at dVerse Poets Pub.

Come in, sit down,

Your head just so

In weary pose.

Abstract yourself –

If you can –

From war-mongering news.

Turn your eyes away,

Shutter your mind.

And see me only

For I only have eyes for you.

May your questions fall shallow.

Pebbles barely breaking

The surface of our contentment.

Love we dare not probe

Nor look too far ahead.

For tonight is all we are given

and twinkly eyes all that are left.

We cannot search

To understand

Why I am yours and yours alone.

44 thoughts on “Billie Holiday Jazz Blues”

  1. i love the not searching..just taking it as it is… sometimes it’s good if we don’t have too many questions but rather sing the blues as it comes… jazz is much of being in the moment with its impro parts… think this is what i like most..

    1. There is so much that jazz and poetry have in common – playing around with familiar themes, being brave, going down a path when you are not quite sure you can return to the main road again, improvising, discarding and trying again.

  2. I like this a lot. I am not one who knows a LOT about jazz, but when you write about not looking too far ahead, for tonight is all we are given….this seems to me to be the spirit of much jazz. I picture it as being the escaping reality a bit kind of music, dealing only with today and enjoying it to the fullest with the love that one is with.

    1. Jazz is really like poetry – you don’t need to know a lot about it to enjoy it. And you don’t necessarily enjoy all of it (also like poetry) – some of it sounds like a migraine about to happen!

    1. I was thinking of her song ‘My Man’:
      He’s not much on looks
      He’s no hero out of books
      But I love him
      Yes, I love him

      And it ends with that absolutely gut-wrenching moan:
      For whatever my man is
      I’m his forevermore

  3. Marina Sofia – I am so glad you featured Billie Holiday’s phenomenal work. What a haunting and unforgettable voice she had. Just like your poetry is…

    1. I was well imbibed in her music and words at an early age. I still know the words to nearly all of her songs – I just tested myself with ‘You go to my head’.

  4. Lady Billie got devoured while still some of the blue sweetness was in her; really like your poem, and gratitude for commenting on both my jazz poems. I am not a musician, but jazz & blues speak to me on a genetic & spiritual level–it’s like I am not a soldier, but I understand war; still working on peace.

    1. Lovely to connect. Yes, Lady Day’s story is so sad, especially when she started losing her wonderful voice towards the end of her life. But I like those ‘lived-in’ voices best – they tell you so much about life and its disappointments.

    1. My absolute favourite (although I like Ella, Sarah Vaughan, Josephine Baker and all those other brave jazz ladies too) – there is just something so fragile about her.

  5. for tonight is all we are given…ah i would love to take that invitation and just sit down in that music and be content…just to breathe it in for a moment you know…smiles.

  6. “Turn your eyes away,

    Shutter your mind.

    And see me only

    For I only have eyes for you.

    May your questions fall shallow.

    Pebbles barely breaking

    The surface of our contentment.”

    My favourite part of your work …. Love the whole piece!

    1. She is utterly unique – I can pick out her voice from hundreds of others. Thank you, Polly! I’m pleased to see she has so many admirers still – wonder what she would think of that.

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