Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lush Life

Lush Life is a jazz standard with both lyrics and music written by Billy Strayhorn in the 1930s. However, the song was only performed privately by Strayhorn until he and vocalist Kay Davis performed it on November 13, 1948 with the Duke Ellington Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. The song's lyrics describe the author's weariness of the night life after a failed romance, wasting time with "jazz and cocktails" at "come-what-may places" and in the company of girls with "sad and sullen gray faces/with distingué traces". Strayhorn was only 16 years old when he wrote the majority of the song, which was to become his signature composition, along with Take the A Train.

Performance by Queen Latifah (from the 1998 film Living Out Loud).

This Marvyn Warren arrangement was subsequently included on The Dana Owens Album in 2004 (Dana Owens is the real name of artist Queen Latifah). This is an interesting title sequence, in that it begins with Queen Latifah and at the end switches to Holly Hunter finishing the song dressed in only a bra (I would not lie to you).

If you have any recollection of that movie at all, it’s likely the scene in which Eddie Cibrian massages Holly Hunter (and introduces a whole new generation to “At Last” as sung by Etta James – at the 3 minute mark). Warning – it’s erotic as all get out, so you might not want to watch this with your grandmother.

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