Kathleen Hagen's Reviews > Billie Holiday: Wishing On The Moon

Billie Holiday by Donald Clarke
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Mar 21, 12

Read in March, 2012

Wishing on the Moon: The Life and Times of Billie Holiday,by Donald Clark, Narrated by Anna Fields, produced by Blackstone Audio, downloaded from audible.com.

This book was written in 1994 and recorded by Anna Fields in 1996, who is no longer alive, and whose narrations I still miss. It is very clear that this biography was written by a jazz buff and someone who knew Billie Holiday’s music intimately. In fact, if I had to say anything negative about this book, it is that we discussed and analyzed every song recorded by Billie, who was the band, where it was recorded, etc. In spite of that, there is so much to know that has never been satisfactorily covered. Billie supplemented her own legend by writing her own autobiography, “Lady Sings the Blues” full of inaccuracies and exaggerations. Clark got access in the 1970’s to her entire discography, and to interviews done by others concerning Billie. The book is totally one of stories about her life from the people who were her closest friends and confidantes. Billie’s life was tragic in many ways. She gave love and money to people who didn’t deserve it, got hooked on drugs and supplied by her agent, and mostly didn’t have someone just looking out for her interests. She got into fights if she got angry, fights in which she gave as good as she got much of the time. Her last days are unbelievable. She was 44 and in the hospital due to total malnutrition. She managed to get herself fixed up on heroin even in the hospital, so a nurse turned her in. She was arrested in the hospital and no one was allowed to come in to see her for fear she would get more drugs. This all happened while she was in fact dying. She never got the fame she deserved in life, although her audiences loved her even on a bad day, but Clark says all of her songs are still available on records 50 years later.
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