Samstag, 29. Januar 2011

Julia Blackburn: With Billie

WITH BILLIE by Julia Blackburn (2005) is an arrangement of interviews which Linda Kuehl did in the early 1970ies – shortly before she committed suicide. These interviews are from several persons who knew Billie Holiday, the fantastic jazz singer also known as Lady Day who died at the age of 44. These interviews were used several times since then when anyone started to work on anything about Lady – as her friends called her.

I believe that you can’t know a person thoroughly – and I do believe that there is nothing existing like "the one and only truth" when it comes to people and their life. It is like looking trough a kaleidoscope: Everyone has another angle on looking on another one. No one sees exactly the same thing another does.

So this book is partly contradictory. It is like an arrangement of mini biographies about this people with anecdotes of Billie in it – but it is a great read about the jazz scene and of course Billie Holiday!

When I am reading (auto-) biographies I am immediately becoming the friend of the person, who is the certain character. This makes my circle of friends very glamorous. ;”)

Back to the book: I would not recommend this book to you if you are a complete Billie Holiday beginner: Because of these several persons who are all telling their story, it is not always in chronological order. So in the end, you could have trouble to remember how often Billie Holiday was arrested and when she was where. This is really a confusing book if you do not know anything about Billie Holiday or the "jazz people" from that era.

Another thing that is not like I hoped for: There is only one picture of Lady in it. (At least in the German edition -which has the same cover as seen here - with the chihuahua in it. - She had several - and a boxer named Mister.) and with this entire people in the book I think that some pictures would have helped to get the dramatis personae clear. Besides that: I love pictures.. :")

Even if you have never heard before of Billie Holiday or simply dislike her and her music and intend to stay uninterested: You should know this song – so please: Spare a little time with this amazing piece of music and social criticism:

  • Living literally: Wear a white gardenia, red nail polish and use Maybelline cosmetics if you like to. And of course: Listen to one of the greatest voices of Jazz: Billie Holiday!!

I am a huge fan of Billie Holiday and I am going to read several other books about her - so, if you are interested: Please visited this blog now and then.. To everyone who can’t stand her: There will be some time between the Billie posts.. ;”)

WITH BILLIE fits in one of my challenges: The LGBT challenge – because there are several indications of Billie’s lesbian affaires.


  1. Danke for this review! I will read other books about her first and then read this one. Strange Fruit is such a sad song, I think.

  2. You are welcome, Anja! I hope you're going to review your "Billie-reads" then. ;")

    Yes, I think that this song is sad, too. I had a hart time to pick just one song - but this is it. - because I also think this is the song which tells very much about Miss Holiday - her style and her feelings - and it is the song which should be heard. So if anyone decides to hear only one song of her - this one should be it. ;")

  3. We recently listened to Strange Fruit during English, because it's a cover from a poem about the lynchings! EVEryone was so quite afterwards!
    I love Billie Holiday, so maybe I should start reading some stuff about her!! XD
    Hope you had a great week!!

  4. Yes, I think Abel Meeropol wrote it - and the music too.

  5. Oh - I hope your week will be great too! ;")


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