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God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday song)

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"God Bless the Child" is a song written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr. in 1939. It was first recorded on May 9, 1941 under the Okeh label.

Holiday's version of the song was honored with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1976. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Recording sessionEdit

Session #44: 799 Seventh Avenue, New York City, May 9, 1941, Eddie Heywood and his Orchestra with Roy Eldridge (trumpet) Jimmy Powell, Lester Boone (alto saxophone), Ernie Powell (trumpet), Eddie Heywood (piano), Johan Robins (guitar), Paul Chapman (guitar), Grachan Moncur II (bass), Herbert Cowans (drums), Billie Holiday (vocal)


Origin and interpretationEdit

In her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues Holiday indicated an argument with her mother over money led to the song. She indicated that during the argument she said the line "God bless the child that's got his own." The anger over the incident led her to turn that line into a starting point for a song, which she worked out in conjunction with Herzog. In his 1990 book Jazz SingingWill Friedwald indicates it as "sacred and profane" as it references the Bible while indicating that religion seems to have no effect in making people treat each other better. The lyrics refer to an unspecified Biblical verse: "Them that's got shall get, them that don't shall lose, so the Bible says, and it still is news. . . . " This likely refers to Matthew 25:29 or Luke 8:18.

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