Billie Holiday

Fine and Mellow

“Fine and Mellow” is a jazz standard written by Billie Holiday, who first recorded it on April 20, 1939 on the Commodore label. It’s more famous B-side was “Strange Fruit,” making this an historical release. It is a blues lamenting the bad treatment of a woman at the hands of “my man”. The song was famously performed by Billie Holiday in 1957 in a television special, The Sound of Jazz (watch embedded video).

The one-hour program aired on Sunday, December 8, 1957, at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, live from CBS Studio 58, the Town Theater at 851 Ninth Avenue in New York City.

The show’s performance of “Fine and Mellow” reunited Billie Holiday with her estranged long-time friend and stirring collaborator Lester Young for the final time. Jazz critic Nat Hentoff, who was involved in the show, recalled that during rehearsals, they kept to opposite sides of the room. Young was very weak, and Hentoff told him to skip the big band section of the show and that he could sit while performing in the group with Holiday.

During the performance of “Fine and Mellow”, Webster played the first solo. “Then”, Hentoff remembered:

Lester got up, and he played the purest blues I have ever heard, and [he and Holiday] were looking at each other, their eyes were sort of interlocked, and she was sort of nodding and half–smiling. It was as if they were both remembering what had been—whatever that was. And in the control room we were all crying. When the show was over, they went their separate ways.

Within two years, both Young and Holiday had died.

Noting that the cameras were employed as “straight reportorial tools”, Jack Gould observed in a New York Times review: “It was the art of video improvisation wedded to the art of musical improvisation; the effect was an hour of enormously creative and fresh TV.”

The televised lineup included several jazz legends (the first six are listed in the order of their solos) Ben Webster – tenor saxophone, Lester Young – tenor saxophone, Vic Dickenson – trombone, Gerry Mulligan – baritone saxophone, Coleman Hawkins – tenor saxophone, Roy Eldridge – trumpet, Doc Cheatham – trumpet, Danny Barker – guitar, Milt Hinton – double bass, Mal Waldron – piano, Osie Johnson – drums.

– Wikipedia

CommodoreRecord

Spotify_IconListen To The 1956 Carnegie Hall Version on Spotify

LYRICS ::

My man don’t love me
Treats me oh so mean
My man he don’t love me
Treats me awfully
Hes the, lowest man
That Ive ever see

He wears high trimmed pan
Stripes are really yellow
He wears high trimmed pan
Stripes are really yellow

But when he starts in to love me
Hes so fine and mellow

Love will make you drink and gamble
Make you stay out all night long repeat
Love will make you drink and gamble
Make you stay out all night long repeat

Love will make you do things
That you know is wrong

But if you treat me right baby
Ill stay home everyday
But if you treat me right baby
Ill stay home everyday

But you’re so mean to me baby
I know you’re gonna drive me away

Love is just like the faucet
It turns off and on
Love is just like the faucet
It turns off and on

Sometimes when you think it’s on baby
It has turned off and gone