Love Lena, But Can’t Leave Lady Day
I felt in love with Lena Horne’s rendition of “Love Me or Leave Me” the first time I heard it. Like her figure, Lena’s voice is quite voluptuous, and she knows how to give the ballad a sultry vibe with her lithe flow and effortless delivery. Didn’t think anyone could surpass her until I came across Billie Holiday’s version. Not that Lady Day could outshine Lena, but she has her own unique approach to the standard. Lady Day sounds anything but fresh, playful, and invigorating like songbird Lena. She phrases it in a conversational style instead. With her unmatchable technique of singing behind the beat, she flips Lena’s cute, sexy groove into a dark, bittersweet feeling. Her throaty, Brandy-saturated voice combined with her brooding way of expressing the lyrics turns the romantic ballad into a despair classic.