30 Sad Songs no. 16. Lush Life – Nancy Wilson

0724383274550_600My new novel Interlude is partly about the fatal lure of alcohol, so I have to have a couple of drinking songs in here. Lush Life (by Billy Strayhorn) is one of the greatest, and this is my preferred version. Nancy Wilson has such a world-weary voice, and just enough technique to keep it interesting without venturing into hellish Sarah Vaughan territory. I don’t know whether Ms Wilson had booze problems but she certainly puts the song over with conviction, and sometimes actually sounds pissed when she’s singing it. A couple of autobiographical notes: I became familiar with this recording because I found the album in a skip some time in the early 80s, alongside Sophie Tucker, Della Reese and Blossom Dearie, so I’m forever grateful to whoever chucked those LPs out. And in my rather over-refreshed 20s and 30s Lush Life was always on the turntable when I was feeling sorry for myself. The neighbours must have been over-familiar with me singing along ‘I’ll rot with the rest of those whose lives are lonely too’.

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