Monday, 11 May 2015

"Love Me or Leave Me"- 2 renditions

Billie Holiday:

Nina Simone:

Other versions:

The coolest thing about jazz is that it's a performer's art more/rather than a composer's art, and each singer performs a song in a different way. Completely different, unrecognisable. Over the past few days I've listened several times to Nina Simone's version, which is very good. Then I listened to Billie Holiday. And it sounds like a Billie Holiday song. Like her other sad songs, this one feels personal and uniquely her own, as she brings into the performance her own pain and insecurities and doubts, and sings like she's moaning and crying and lamenting. Whose voice can go as far as Billie's in conveying, expressing such agony. And it feels just right. Just perfect. As though that's exactly the way to sing it. As though there's no other way to render it.

Not that I turn my back on Nina. Those thoughts appear only whilst I'm listening to Billie Holiday. These 2 singers have different approaches to the song, in terms of tone, tempo... Besides, though it's hard to say why, I feel like in Billie Holiday's performance the most important part is:
"Love me or leave me
Or let me be lonely
You won't believe me 
I love you only
I'd rather be lonely
Then happy with somebody else
You might find the night time
The right time for kissing
But night time is my time
For just reminiscing
Instead of forgetting with somebody else"
In Nina Simone's performance, on the other hand, it is: 
"There'll be no one
Unless that someone is you
I intend to be independently blue

I want your love but I don't want to borrow
To have it today and give back tomorrow
Your love is my love, there's no love for nobody else"
That is, I think they ultimately don't say the same thing. May even be opposing. And strangely, both renditions work. Beautifully.

PS: Besides Peggy Lee's and Doris Day's, I've also listened to Ella Fitzgerald's take on this song. She may be the Queen of Jazz, but in my opinion she loses here. That equanimity of her singing is wonderful in many other songs, but Billie Holiday beats her in this case (as Nina Simone beats her when it comes to "My Man's Gone Now"). 

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