Billie Holiday, 1958. Photographer: Dennis Stock (via)
“I’ve been told that nobody sings the word ‘hunger’ like I do. Or the word ‘love.’ Maybe I remember what those words are all about. Maybe I’m proud enough to want to remember Baltimore and Welfare Island, the Catholic institution and the Jefferson Market Court, the sheriff in front of our place in Harlem and the towns from coast to coast where I got my lumps and scars, Philly and Alderson, Hollywood and San Francisco, every damn bit of it.
All the Cadillacs and minks in the world – and I’ve had a few – can’t make it up or make me forget it. All I’ve learned in all those places from all those people is wrapped up in those two words. You’ve got to have something to eat and a little love in your life before you can hold still for any damn body’s sermon on how to behave. Everything I am and everything I want out of life goes smack back to that.”
-Holiday, quoted in Lady Sings the Blues (1956)