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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Good Morning Heartache - Billie Holiday



Good morning heartache, you old gloomy sight
Good morning heartache
Thought we said goodbye last night
I turned and tossed until it seems you had gone
But here you are with the dawn
Wish I’d forget you, but you're here to stay
It seems I met you, when my love went away
Now everyday I start by saying to you
Good morning heartache… what's new
Stop haunting me now
Can't shake you no how
Just leave me alone
I've got those Monday blues
Straight through Sunday blues
Good morning heartache, here we go again
Good morning heartache, you're the one who knew me when
Might as well get used to you hanging around
Good morning heartache, sit down

Good Morning Heartache by Irene Higgenbotham, Ervin Drake, and Dan Fisher
*Originally recorded by Billie Holiday (1946)

This song has gotten me through several heartbreaks already, and once again it has come to my rescue this week. I find such comfort and advice simply in Billie Holiday's intonation. The lyrics are excellent: I love how heartache is personified as an old acquaintance. However, even if there were no lyrics, this song would still have something to teach me.

Holiday sings with great sadness, which many covers of this song have also achieved, but she adds a touch of humor and exasperation that cannot be duplicated. In a way that only the great Lady Day can do, she infuses a sort of worn sweetness into the sadness of heartache until every line evokes a bittersweet complex of emotions. She is sad, because she has heartache, but she is also so much more.

She's a little exasperated, because she's had heartache plenty of times before, and each time thought it would be for the last. Heartache isn't a friend, but an old acquaintance: not someone you necessarily want to see, but at least someone familiar. Since she's well experienced with heartache, she knows the best way to deal with heartache is to make your peace with it as an old acquaintance, and wait for it to move on.

Yet, she can still see a slight lighter side. She's so used to heartache, she knows exactly how to handle it, and there's something slightly humorous and comforting about that. It is a rather perverse trick of the universe that you learn the useful skill of deal with shit by dealing with tons and tons of shit. And though it might not be the sort of skill you brag about, it's better than not being able to handle adversity at all.

If this song had been given to a lesser singer, it would have ended up as either a sappy or trite little ditty. Thankfully, it was given to Billie Holiday, who could more than understand and relate to the many complexities of repeated heartache, and had the talent to sing them.

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