To mark the strange (but fitting) conjunction of Hal Willner and Lady Day we thought to spotlight this – his production of the classic Billie Holiday song “(In My) Solitude”, (originally recorded by Duke Ellington, with lyrics by Eddie DeLange & Irving Mills)
Circa 1995, Hal recorded a version of this all-time American standard for the Robert Altman film Kansas City.
Steven Bernstein’s arrangement here is adapted from the earlier ones he created for the Altman soundtrack but it sounds custom-made for Marianne, whose idea it was to include the song on her 2008 album, Easy Come, Easy Go.
Marianne (on her recording of the song) : “It’s always a big challenge to record a famous number like this, because it’s been done so well – what can you bring to it? But in a way, it’s very personal for me and I knew I could put it across…I remember I was a bit late getting to the studio that day but I had a coffee, walked into the vocal booth, and we did it in one take. Sometimes that really works with me, before I know the song too well…I think it’s beautiful. It makes me want to cry.”
Marianne and Hal – read more about Hal and Marianne’s connection on her website
More Hal and Billie Holiday conjunctions can be found (fleetingly) on this obscure corner – (from the extraordinary 1980’s late-night tv series Night Music (for which Hal, pre SNL, was the inspired music director). Night Music #108 features the smorgasbord of Jack Bruce, Joe Walsh, Al Green, and a segment (spotlighted here) with Jools Holland and jazz critic Nat Hentoff introducing rare footage of Billie Holiday.