Having spent yesterday slaving away, ripping rotten fenceposts out of the ground and installing spankingly new ones (the joys of homeownership!) (and in the process displacing a veritable diaspora of scurrying wood beetles, who infested the crumbling timber in their hundreds (along with the occasional mighty centipede)) and today painting and then cutting dozens of strips of paper as part of my strange art projects, I am seriously in the mood for some old-style music to soothe my soul. (It is also to assuage the depression I feel after reading this.) So I've chosen a few different versions of one of my all-time favourite songs, "Lush Life", a piece that, when heard in an extended instrumental version by John Coltrane on one of the first jazz records I ever bought, embodied everything that was extraordinary about this new music I was discovering. I know it's theatrical and somewhat self-pitying (but then again, so am I) but I love the eloquence of its lyrics and the breathtaking beauty of its music, written by longtime Duke Ellington collaborator Billy Strayhorn. (Before the various versions of "Lush Life", I've included the last track of Ellington's And His Mother Called Him Bill (the album he made after Strayhorn's death), a deeply moving, poignant piece recorded after the session had ended (you can hear the musicians chatting in the background) with Ellington playing solo. The rest of the album is damn good too, and worth buying if you're so inclined). There's lots of versions of "Lush Life" out there, so if you like it they're worth tracking down (especially the Coltrane version on the album of the same name).
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