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
Billie Holiday singles chronology
Strange Fruit
"God Bless the Child"
"Good Morning Heartache"

"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 states that during the argument her mother said "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 have, them that's not shall lose, so the Bible says, and it still is news. . . . " This likely refers to Matthew 25:29 or Matthew 13:12, or Luke 8:18 or Luke 19:26, or Mark 4:25.

Notable cover versions[edit]

In other media[edit]

The song was featured in the 2007 video game BioShock. It also inspired a children's picture book.[8]

In popular culture[edit]



  • J. Cole alludes to "God Bless the Child" on his track "In the Morning" from his 2010 mixtape, "Friday Night Lights" and his debut 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".


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.


  1. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". GRAMMY.org. Archived from the original on July 7, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  2. ^ "A site dedicated to Billie Holiday's Songs and Discography". Billie Holiday Songs. Archived from the original on November 24, 2007. Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  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. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ted Gioia (2012-09-27). "The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire". Books.google.com. p. 131. Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Holiday, Billie. God Bless the Child, Harper Collins, (2004) – ISBN 0-06-028797-7
  9. ^ Judy Henske performing God Bless the Child, on The Judy Garland Show, 1963 on YouTube
  10. ^ "Movies News - MTV". Film.com. Retrieved 2016-07-26. 

External links[edit]