With March here, I listened as I do every year to "These Foolish Things Remind Me of You."
The song, with its line "the winds of March that make my heart a dancer," evokes the changing season, romantic feelings of World War II black-and-white movies, lost love and regret.
Billie Holiday's version, recorded in 1936 with Teddy Wilson on piano and Lester Young on sax, undercuts its sadness with an uptempo, early bebop mood reminiscent of Manhattan in racy 1930s movies. "Lady Day's" voice possesses a range of emotional shadings, a film noir knowingness mixed with fragility.
Ella Fitzgerald also made signature recordings of the song, including versions with Oscar Peterson and Louis Armstrong. In one version on YouTube, Ella gives a mournful intro that sets the tone for the main verses and chorus, backed by more ornate orchestration than Holiday's.
Fitzgerald's slower, more introspective interpretations of the song display her virtuosity in using her voice as an instrument, bending notes and adding somber colors to the lyrics.
"Lady Day" and Ella use the same words to tell different stories. It's as if they're speaking different languages. You'd listen forever to each of them.