Today we celebrate the music of Billy Strayhorn because after yesterday's tragedy we need to celebrate something. Strayhorn was Duke Ellington's "better half" in more ways than one, although "Sweet Pea" only got belated and inadequate credit for it from the famed band leader, who kept the introverted Strayhorn in his tall, glamorous shadow. And to top it all off, Strayhorn was gay at time when homosexuality was kept hush-hush. For example, Strayhorn wrote Ellington's famous theme Take The A Train, and that is not all, as you will soon find out. Regarding Satin Doll, we learn this—
Although Ellington originally wrote the melody for “Satin Doll,” in his biography of Billy Strayhorn, Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn, David Hajdu says, “Strayhorn fleshed out an Ellington riff sketch with harmony and lyrics ...” and titled it “Satin Doll,” Strayhorn’s pet name for his mother. Strayhorn’s lyrics were not considered commercially viable, and five years later, lyricist and cofounder of Capitol Records, Johnny Mercer wrote new lyrics, resulting in the song we know today.
- Lush Life — Johnny Hartman's definitive version, with John Coltrane
- Lotus Blossom — Duke Ellington, trio version
- Satan Doll — McCoy Tyner Trio
- Raincheck — Duke Ellington (big band version)
- Chelsea Bridge — Ben Webster, live (sublime version)