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.
  1. Lush Life
    Included 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.
  2. Take the "A" Train
    Before 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.
  3. Satin Doll
    Co-written with Ellington. Strayhorn wrote original lyrics later replaced by those of Johnny Mercer.
  4. Something to Live For
    This 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.
  5. Chelsea Bridge
    All Strayhorn. Written in the very early days with Ellington.
  6. Passion Flower
    Same as Chelsea Bridge.
  7. A Flower is a Lovesome Thing