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 record
Recorded May 9, 1941
Genre Jazz
Length 2:57
Label Okeh
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Edward B. Marks Music
Billie Holiday singles chronology
"Strange Fruit"
(1939)
"God Bless the Child"
(1942)
"Good Morning Heartache"
(1946)

"Strange Fruit"
(1939)
"God Bless the Child"
(1942)
"Good Morning Heartache"
(1946)

"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 and released by the Okeh Records in 1942.

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]

Notes[edit]

  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