Songs You May Have Thought Were Written by Duke Ellington but Were Really Written by Billy Strayhorn
Born in 1915, he grew up in a poor Pittsburgh family. He was black and gay in a time when that was a very difficult identity. He is mostly known as Duke Ellington's arranger for some 30 years. But he was the composer of the Ellington orchestra's theme and the co-composer with Ellington of many jazz standards. He died in 1967.
- •Lush LifeIncluded in many anthologies of the "music of Duke Ellington," Strayhorn wrote this when he was 19, long before he met Ellington. Of the many recordings, I'll take the one with Johnny Hartman and Coltrane.
- •Take the "A" TrainBefore he was hired by Ellington, Strayhorn decided to write a composition for their second meeting by using the directions given by Ellington to Strayhorn to get to his place in Harlem. Written in 1939. It became the Ellington band's signature.
- •Satin DollCo-written with Ellington. Strayhorn wrote original lyrics later replaced by those of Johnny Mercer.
- •Something to Live ForThis may be the most beautiful song ever written. Billy Strayhorn wrote these lyrics when he was 18. I love the Lena Horne version. Lena and Billy were best friends.
- •Chelsea BridgeAll Strayhorn. Written in the very early days with Ellington.
- •Passion FlowerSame as Chelsea Bridge.
- •A Flower is a Lovesome ThingSame