A little Billie for the holidays

I’ve posted this song before, but only its simply sophisticated Edgar Leslie lyrics. Here’s the definitive performance (music by Joe Burke). The easy swing behind Billie is from superb Count Basie players. Drummer Jo Jones, guitarist Freddie Green and bass player Walter Page were, with the Count himself on piano, the great rhythm section of the swing era. (Here, the very hip Claude Thornhill, who had a great band of his own, is on piano.) The sax is the nonpareil Lester Young. Trumpeter Buck Clayton (at first muted behind the singer, then on an open horn in his breaks and between her phrases) and clarinetist Buster Bailey were pre-eminent Basie standouts. Together, they all catch exactly the right mood.

The song isn’t really about a holiday—Billie, after all, sings, “When we want to work, we work”—but about a state of being, an attitude.

Maybe we do the right things
Maybe we do the wrong
Spending each day
Just wending our way along

For me, uptight New Englander, it’s aspirational.

Happy New Year! And hopes that, in a happy setting, you’re getting, some fun out of life.

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