One of the best things about First Draft is interacting with our readers. Sometimes we take requests. Longtime reader Carroll A suggested Lush Life for this feature. It’s a helluva idea so I’m making it so or some such Trekky shit.
Long before Billy Strayhorn joined forces with Duke Ellington, he wrote Lush Life. It came slowly and was written between 1933 and 1936. It was not recorded until 1948 but that opened the floodgates: it has been recorded 450+ times since then.
We begin out of order with the version suggested by Carroll. You can’t go wrong with John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman:
Here’s one by the composer himself:
Nat King Cole had the first radio hit with Strayhorn’s tune.
We begin a run of lush and lively recordings by chick singers. First up, Sarah Vaughan.
Duke Ellington cut multiple versions of Lush Life. This one with Ella Fitzgerald.
Linda Ronstadt and Nelson Riddle. Say no more.
Finally, what would the Friday Cocktail Hour be without a jazz instrumental version of the week’s song? This time around it’s the piano stylings of McCoy Tyner who died in March of 2020.
That’s it for this week. Mix yourself a lush cocktail and toast life in the After Times. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.
One thought on “Lush Life”
Late to the game on this one, but after listening to your Lush Life selections, It has replaced–in my little pantheon–All The Things You Are as the best pop tune ever written. Brian Wilson’s God Only Knows is distant but notable third.
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