God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday song)

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"God Bless the Child"
Single by Billie Holiday
B-side "Solitude"
Released 1942
Format 78 rpm
Recorded Friday, May 9, 1941
Genre Jazz
Length 2:57
Label Okeh
Writer(s) Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog, Jr.
Producer(s) Edward B. Marks Music Corporation

"God Bless the Child" is a song written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr. in 1939. It was first recorded on May 9, 1941 under the Okeh label.

Holiday's version of the song was honored with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1976.[1] It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Recording session[edit]

Session #44: 799 Seventh Avenue, New York City, May 9, 1941, Eddie Heywood and his Orchestra with Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Jimmy Powell and Lester Boone (alto saxophone), Ernie Powell (trumpet), Eddie Heywood (piano), Johan Robins (guitar), Paul Chapman (guitar), Grachan Moncur II (bass), Herbert Cowans (drums), Billie Holiday (vocal)[2]

Origin and interpretation[edit]

In her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues[3] Holiday indicated an argument with her mother over money led to the song. She indicated that during the argument her mother said the line "God bless the child that's got his own." The anger over the incident led her to turn that line into a starting point for a song, which she worked out in conjunction with Herzog. In his 1990 book Jazz Singing, Will Friedwald[4] indicates it as "sacred and profane" as it references the Bible while indicating that religion seems to have no effect in making people treat each other better.[5] The lyrics refer to an unspecified Biblical verse: "Them that's got shall get, them that don't shall lose, so the Bible says, and it still is news. . . . " This likely refers to Matthew 25:29 or Luke 8:18.

Notable cover versions[edit]

"God Bless the Child"
Single by The Simpsons
from the album The Simpsons Sing the Blues
Released 1991
Format CD single
Recorded 1990
Genre Jazz
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog, Jr.
Producer(s) John Boylan, Bryan Loren, DJ Jazzy Jeff
The Simpsons singles chronology
"Deep, Deep Trouble"
(1991)
"God Bless the Child"
(1991)
"Spider Pig"
(2007)

It also inspired a children's picture book.[7] It was included on the album The Simpsons Sing the Blues, performed by Lisa Simpson (Yeardley Smith); this version was released as a single, the third from the album. Tony Bennett recorded the song as an overdubbed "duet" with Holiday for his 1997 album Tony Bennett on Holiday. Tricky released a version of the song on Angels with Dirty Faces (1998), retitled as "Carriage for Two". Referenced in the bible in Matthew 25:29 KJV {For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.} In 1999, House producer Alex Gopher sampled parts of the first verse for his track "the Child".

In popular culture[edit]

Film[edit]

Television[edit]

Music[edit]

  • J. Cole alludes to "God Bless the Child" on his track "In the Morning" from his 2010 mixtape, "Friday Night Lights" and his debuh studio album "Cole World: The Sideline Story".
  • 2Pac references Billie Holiday and "God Bless the Child" on the song "Hold On, Be Strong" as well as "Hold Ya Head".

Literature[edit]

  • Biyi Bandele references the song in his novel The Street.
  • Kristin Hunter took the title of the song for her first novel God Bless the Child.

Video Games[edit]

  • BioShock soundtrack: The three remixed tracks on the CD include "Beyond the Sea", "God Bless the Child" and "Wild Little Sisters"; the original recordings of these songs are in the game.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Grammy Hall of Fame Award list
  2. ^ Billie Holiday's God Bless the Child
  3. ^ Holiday, Billie. Lady Sings the Blues, Hal Leonard Corporation, (1985) – ISBN 0-7935-2445-8
  4. ^ Friedwald, Will. Jazz Singing: America's Great Voices from Bessie Smith to Bebop and Beyond, Da Capo, (1996) – ISBN 0-306-80712-2
  5. ^ Liner notes pages 6 and 7 in Billie Holiday's Greatest Hits
  6. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 52 – The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 8] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  7. ^ Holiday, Billie. God Bless the Child, Harper Collins, (2004) – ISBN 0-06-028797-7
  8. ^ Judy Henske performing God Bless the Child, on The Judy Garland Show, 1963 on YouTube
  9. ^ Music on Grey's Anatomy: God Bless the Child

External links[edit]