Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra

April 7, 2015

Tags: Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Michael Lally

Check out Lally's terrific riff on Frank Sinatra: "I've always been impressed with humans who can extend the natural talents of our species beyond what anyone previously thought was possible. The great artists and scientists and athletes and thinkers and leaders etc. Sinatra was one of those." [Click on photo caption to read the whole piece.]

Billie Holiday, born 100 years ago today, may not have been as tenaciously devoted to craft & technique, but she can blow your head off. It's the old dilemma: technique or passion—but great artists, like great lovers, have both.

Sinatra's mean attitude toward women is what comes out to me in his singing. Johnny says all singers learned from him—if you can understand Johnny Cash's words, it's because he understood Sinatra's phrasing.

Billie Holiday just seems beyond understanding.

Not so much comparing, just thinking about why I hands down prefer Holiday.

Also see: Frank O'Hara's fantastic poem "The Day Lady Died." Is there a great, moving poem about Sinatra?


  1. April 13, 2015 5:07 PM EDT
    hey elinor, left a comment but forgot to do it right or something so now see it never made it onto this post...can't remember how i said it but I'm sure defending Sinatra while agreeing about Lady Day...they were about the same age I believe and admired each other and felt influenced by each other the way I heard it, and Billie was pretty tough on a few women herself as I also heard it in the jazz world back in the day...Sinatra's exes mostly praised many of his qualities as a lover and a friend long after they'd been together so the idea that he was mean to women might be not much more than normal human stuff, though maybe you know sumpin I don't... (Miles Davis actually hit women and admitted it almost proudly but he's still a genius musical creator and innovator like Sinatra and Holiday...
    - lally
  2. April 13, 2015 6:41 PM EDT
    I'm glad to hear that—I guess because I never much responded to Sinatra's music I took the backdoor out of personality. I wouldn't care if I liked him, y'know?
    - Elinor Nauen